Weekend Coffee Share | Self-Love

Weekend Coffee ShareIf we were having coffee this weekend I’d ask you what your thoughts on self-love are.

Because love, like charity, begins at home and I’m curious as to whether you agree with this idea.

I don’t feel it’s possible to love others if we don’t love ourselves first. 

And it took a long time for me to learn this important lesson. I always believed that a good person puts the needs of others first. To do otherwise was just plain selfish

So, I focused on doing for others and often neglected myself. Who doesn’t love a martyr, right?

That’s not to say that we should shirk our obligations and always put ourselves first; that really would be selfish! But, we have a responsibility to take care of our own needs, as well. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t understand this and wasn’t able to strike a healthy balance. Occasionally I’d become resentful of the people I sacrificed for when they didn’t seem “grateful enough.”

Eventually, I learned about codependence. This is a relationship where both parties are over dependent on each other. A codependent individual needs to be needed in order to feel okay about themselves. 

Once I realized that I was engaging in this type of behavior I began the hard work to change. 


Wants vs Needs

An important first step was to learn the difference between wants and needs. We tend to use these words interchangeably when they actually refer to very different things.

Wants are the things we wish for like tickets to a concert or a new car. They vary from person to person and change over time. These are the “extras” that make us happy but aren’t necessary to live a meaningful life.

Maslow-HierarchyREVThe excitement we feel in attaining them is somewhat short-lived. As time goes by that initial thrill wanes and they’re replaced with a yearning for the next desire.

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow devised the Hierarchy of Needs. This five level pyramid begins at the bottom with the most basic needs and moves upward toward the final level that he calls self-actualization. It is here that honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity, creativity, and originality reside. 

Maslow’s theory is that only a minority of people are able to self-actualize because it requires these more uncommon qualities.

Needs are those things we must have to live healthy, functional lives. Food, water, and shelter are the obvious physical ones. They remain constant over time. Emotional needs refer to those necessary for good mental health: self-esteem, approval, and a sense of security. 

The ability to differentiate between the two is important in how we prioritize and make choices in everyday life. We’re also better equipped to recognize this ability, or a lack thereof, in other people.  


Self-love

 Self-love is the act of valuing your own happiness and well-being. When we see ourselves as worthy of kindness and compassion, we more easily view others in the same way. 

Love Yourself REVAs an important component of self-esteem, it enables us to have confidence and a positive self-image.

Without it, we feel the need to constantly “measure up” to self-imposed and societal standards. If that doesn’t happen then we feel like failures, unworthy of respect for ourselves and others. 

This challenge is based on the work of  Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. She tells us that self-love is our birthright, that we aren’t required to earn it, but we must believe in it in order to achieve our best selves.

That can be a tall task in today’s world. The race to be smarter, younger-looking, healthier, richer, thinner, etc. is overwhelming. We’re barraged with products and services that can “improve” and make us more successful. 

To overcome this, I remind myself of this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

Tell me who admires and loves you, and I will tell you who you are. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Changing negative behaviors requires diligence and strength, but we must first be aware of the behavior. Once we identify these unfavorable attitudes towards ourselves we must remember that only through growth can we change.

We always have the opportunity for self-improvement; growth is ongoing as long as we want it and are willing to do the necessary work to achieve it.

Cultivating self-love requires attention and practice. This should be our focus and hopefully, the moments of negativity will dissipate. The goal is to replace it with a spirit of kindness and caring, not only for ourselves, but others as well!


Revised & reposted from 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering the Sabbath

A row of ornate brown wooden church pews

Ahh…Sundays; who doesn’t love them?

Well, probably all the folks who have to punch a clock. This means anyone employed in a service industry, such as retail, restaurants, or the medical field. I spent many years in the retail sector and don’t miss working evenings, weekends, and those frantic holidays.

Some of you may remember when stores were closed on Sundays, or had reduced hours. The idea was to keep the day open for church and family. My first job at 16 was at a grocery store, which was open from 9am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday. We were closed on Sundays. A few years after I started they began Sunday hours from 10am to 2pm.


For Christians, Sunday is a day of worship. I have fond memories attending church with my grandma where the members were called “born again.” As a small child I didn’t understand; I thought being born was something you only did once. Later, after listening to enough sermons, I understood the concept. Whenever someone asked if I went to church I said that I went to the Born Again one on Cedar Avenue.

The building was small with a center aisle leading to the altar, which consisted of a raised platform with a rail around it. In the center was the podium that held a large Bible. All the women sat on the left side and wore dresses and what appeared to be doilies on their heads. Pants were not allowed. They also weren’t permitted to wear jewelry other than wedding rings. The men sat on the right in dark suits and shoes. It had a simple design; minimalist with no ornate architecture or stained glass windows. The church was plain like its members.

I enjoyed the hymns and listening to my great-aunt’s voice quiver as she tried to hit the high notes, but failed. The organ was played by the pastor’s daughter, an awkward teenager who managed a few notes off key each week, but I still thought it was lovely. She wore a doily and I was jealous. Neither she nor I were old enough; you had to be 18. But, they made an exception because she played the organ. 

A child's praying hands

After the gathering prayers there was a Bible study for the adults, while the kids had Sunday school in one of the back rooms of the church. I loved Sunday school and hearing the stories from the Bible. We did fun crafts with cool things like pipe cleaners and pasta noodles. There were songs and Bible verses. If we minded the teacher we usually got a cookie. After that the children joined the adults for the main service.

I tried desperately to pay attention, but it was hard. The pastor was a nice man who gave long-winded exhortations and heavily punctuated them with the word “Lord.” What I remember most were his stories of hell; that fiery pit of damnation, where all sinners went after death. Sinning involved things like gambling, dancing, and going to the movies. Spending time in beer gardens would earn you a one-way ticket to the devil’s house, as well. Then there was the sin of coveting. You could covet your neighbor’s goods, including their wife, but it wasn’t advisable. Interestingly, I never heard him talk about coveting your neighbor’s husband.

I was still young and had no interest in gambling or beer, but I did like dancing and movies. And jewelry. I was guilty of wanting some things the other kids had, so that meant I was a coveter.

He went into great detail about the horrors these evil-doers could expect and described their “grinding and gnashing of teeth” when they were thrown into the fiery pit. I didn’t ever want to go there, but worried constantly about whether I could tow the line.

Sometimes people from other Born Again churches came for something called Fellowship. I liked Fellowship Sundays because they involved a luncheon and yummy desserts like Grandma’s pineapple squares. In a room off the kitchen they would set up a long table filled with mismatched dishes for a potluck feast. These delicious foods were put in the oven on low temperatures until the end of the morning services. The kitchen was right next to the church where the congregation sat and the tantalizing aromas made it especially hard to focus on the pastor’s lengthy sermon.

It was fun playing with the kids from the visiting churches, whom we only saw once in awhile. The downside was the extra long homilies. Our pastor and the visiting one both took a turn at the pulpit and it cut into the fun parts of Fellowship.

Holy Bible on a stand

There’s also nice memories from our Sunday school holiday programs. Prior to Christmas and Easter each year, we would receive a typed out Bible verse on a scrap of paper, which had to be memorized. If I received one longer than two sentences I panicked. I was terrified of forgetting my lines and believed anything over two sentences was tempting fate.

Ater our Christmas program we received a small box of candy wrapped and tied with a pretty bow. For Easter we received a small chocolate bunny, but these gifts came with a stern reminder of the true “reason of the season.” We were never to forget that it was Christ’s birth and resurrection. I always thanked Jesus before enjoying the Christmas candy or biting the ears off the rabbit.

Christmas caroling is another wonderful memory I have of those days. It was always snowy in December and we crunched over the icy sidewalks singing in our best voices. People would open their doors or come onto their porches smiling broadly and nodding. Sometimes they joined in with our singing. After we finished they would clap and thank us for bringing them good tidings of great joy. It made me feel quite important and happy inside. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to bring good tidings of great joy. Usually, you have to be at school or work, if you’re a grown up.

Caroling at the nursing home was another story. As a little kid I didn’t understand why some of the old people didn’t smile and nod. Or clap when we finished. A few of them would stare at us, expressionless. They suffered from awful bedhead and their eyes appeared to see things I couldn’t, and it scared me. It also felt far too warm for the weird smells that circulated. I thought a few cracked windows might do the trick. There was a mixture of sadness and fear in my heart every year that we visited. Once we were back outside in the fresh air there was relief. I never outgrew these feelings and they remained as I visited my own parents in their respective nursing homes. For different reasons, of course.


Our memories are selective and we tend to recall happy times, while letting the somber ones slip away. Reminiscing about those early years at the Born Again church makes me happy. It’s a strong connection to my elders who are now all gone. My grandma, great-aunts and great-uncles. The friends I made back then are also gone from my life.

I left the church around the age of 15. I wanted to wear makeup and jewelry and go to the movies and dances. I wanted to play card games and do a lot ot the things that were frowned upon. I believed you could be a good person with or without the doily.

But, I learned the stories of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and that we’re supposed to love our neighbors. I learned about forgiveness and being forgiven. Despite rejecting some of their practices, I kept the truly valuable lessons.

I’m grateful to my grandma for helping instill the tenets of what it takes to be a good and decent person, with or without the church. She gave me many gifts throughout my life, but that was the most precious of all.

Every time I do the right thing or make the right choice I think of her. And that’s a legacy that I know she would be proud of.


Photo credits: Pixabay