It shocks me that a quick Google search of “self-love” synonyms yields only negative results. Pomposity. Conceitedness. Vanity. Even narcissism. These terms actually mean the opposite of self-love and reflect an absence of true regard for self. It is a sad state of affairs when so many of us of the human persuasion lack the simple ability to love and respect the most important person in our lives—ourselves—and in fact are taught to believe that such self-love is grandiose, vainglorious, and just plain bad.
And yet we know, and research shows, that the key to having a successful love relationship is to love yourself first—something many, many people find incredibly difficult. My wish for everyone in the world is this: may you learn to love yourself for the wondrous, unique, magical individual that you are!
So, how will you learn to love yourself? What possible model of behavior might you use to go about at least trying…?
I have an idea. Think about your pet for a minute. One you have now or had at one time. Think about how easy it is (or was) to unconditionally love that creature—dog, cat, ferret, horse, rabbit, whatever.
Our new year’s blog addressed the key elements of what it means to love yourself. It covers the basic requirements of honoring, respecting, and valuing you. (Start with Loving You: New Year’s Love Intentions) But here are some basic pointers to help you simply do for yourself what you do—every day without thinking about it—for your pet! If you make a list of these basic and simple self-love tasks and try to do them every day, I promise that you will feel the love!
♥ When you rise in the morning and are greeted by your dog’s wagging tail or your kitty’s rumbling purr, what happens? You smile. Action plan: When you wake up in the morning look at yourself in the mirror, bed head, creased cheeks and all, and smile at yourself. A big, loving, happy smile.
♥ You would never dream of depriving your pet of healthy food and plenty of clean water. You know feeding and hydrating your animal is part of ensuring that she feels good, has energy, and lives a long, healthy life. Action plan: Make damned sure you eat a healthy diet, hydrate fully, and… take a clue from them—get plenty of sleep!
♥ You make sure your pet gets daily exercise. You ride your horse, go for a run or play fetch with your dog, get your cat to run in circles chasing a water bottle cap tied to a string (whatever floats kitty’s boat). What about you? Action plan: Don’t miss a day. Get the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy, your mood elevated, and your brain clear. You’ll sleep great too!
♥ When your pet gets sick, you waste no time taking him to the vet. You take special care of him and ensure that whatever is needed for full recovery is in place. You don’t miss annual check-ups, rabies boosters, or heart worm meds, do you? Didn’t think so. Action plan: Do as much for yourself. Get an annual physical, take care of yourself when you are sick, and don’t wait to call a doctor. You do not need to go to work if you are running a fever and can’t think or see straight. Would you make your dog play fetch if he was sick? Would you make a colicky horse jump a course?
♥ If you have a pet who is a social creature, you make sure he or she gets the social interaction needed for a happy life. You know all the dog parks within a 20 mile radius of your house. Action plan: Get out there and socialize! Have dinner with friends. Go to the movies or take a hike with your buddies. A conversation, shared meal, or the chance to laugh together—these things heal the soul.
♥ Forgiveness. People forgive their pets just about anything. That chewed up running shoe? Forgotten. The puddle on the kitchen floor? You cleaned it up, expressed your disappointment, and moved on. Action plan: Forgive that person you see in the mirror. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you break your diet, lose your keys, sleep through your alarm, forget that 8 a.m. meeting. Inside your head where the negative self-talk is looping? Shut it down and say: “I am worthy and good. I made a mistake and that’s all.”
♥ You hold your cat on your lap, petting him for hours. You take your dog for walks, brush your horse, sit and talk to your animal, whatever kind it is, and play and sleep in comradeship. That pet-time is good for you and studies show it lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress. Action plan: Take it a step further and be sure you set aside you time—time just for yourself when you read, meditate, nap, relax, whatever it is that soothes and pleases you.
♥ Your pet has a floppy ear, a missing tail, an extra toe. Do you reject or scorn your animal for being flawed, or less than? I’d be willing to bet you love her even more for her imperfections. So why are you so hard on yourself? Action plan: Your imperfections, quirks, and peccadilloes make you YOU. Own them. Love them. Love you!
♥ You love your pet unconditionally. We all do. It’s easy to look at that fur covered face and melt. Action plan: Love yourself just as deeply, just as unconditionally. You may not be covered with fur, but you are just as worthy, just as lovely, just as loveable as Mr. Fuzzy/Tiger/Charlie Chaplin/Lollipop or whoever steals your heart every single day, day after day, when you get home from work.
Why is it we find it so easy to love others—especially our pets, it seems, but not ourselves? The simple guideline of treating yourself with the same tenderness and love that you give to your pets may help turn that around! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.