Paying attention to our personal well-being sometimes creates conflict within for those who have grown up in a culture steeped in the moral grounding of service and sacrifice. For many, childhood training emphasized the practice of ignoring our personal feelings and putting the needs of others in front of our own. Unfortunately, this well intentioned training was often out of balance causing individuals to neglect their own needs. In the end, numerous adults live their life feeling like their vitality has been drained out of them. They become overstressed and sick without anything left to give. When we keep pouring ourselves into others without paying attention to our own feelings and needs our vitality eventually runs thin and dry.
When I am in session with my clients I frequently remind them of the second part of the greatest commandment found in the Bible; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mat 22:39) Usually what we miss in this phrase is the last two words, ‘as yourself.” Many times this part is even dropped from commentary. The truth is; we truly cannot know how to love our neighbor if we do not love our self.
So, here’s the question. Do you love yourself? Are you as nurturing, kind and patient to yourself as you are to your spouse, children, friends or even your dog? What would it be like for you to say no every once in a while and do something nice for yourself? Think about this…the root cause of many things we don’t like about ourselves is due to harmful actions we take when we are drained and need to take care of ourselves. You have permission you know… Jesus didn’t just say love your neighbor. He made the assumption you would love yourself.