Throughout this past week I heard how difficult the week was. We had all gone through a year milestone, but there would be no celebrating. How do we celebrate one year of a pandemic? We don’t. We hunker down, as we had for over 52 weeks, and trudge on. It has been recommended that when we feel particularly vulnerable that is the best time to incorporate a self-care and self-love practice. And, though I share self-care tips, all of which I either try or do on a regular basis, self-love and self-care can feel like ephemeral notions.
Self-love and Self-care are phrases bandied about as if being able to understand the phrases gives us magical powers in living a life full of love and care towards ourselves. I, however, think these ideas often stay conceptual because we are told to just do this or that and it will all be okay. It is my belief that we have to rethink self-love and self-care.
I used to imagine love meant 100% acceptance of the loved. More often than not I pushed down feeling of sadness, anger, frustration, and bewilderment. My thinking was, ‘How can I truly love them if I feel this or that? I better learn to be more accepting.’ So I moved forward with shame and self-rage so that I could be a “loving” person. I attended to their requirements, or at least I thought I was, while I eschewed my own needs. Not only was this the opposite of self-love, but it was a misattunement of all love.
When we deny ourselves the space to feel all our feelings then we block kindness and care towards ourselves and others. Love more often than not is imperfect. We’ve all seen this as we distance in place. Cohabitating for long stretches without diversions means we witness the best and worst in each other day in and day out. If we live alone, then we are grateful for any contact, sometimes even when it leaves us wanting.
When I say how important it is to give ourselves the space to feel our feelings, I do not mean that we are free to rage or dump those feelings on others. Sometimes I share my love by not sharing my thoughts. I silently acknowledge this act of generosity. In this way I have the room to experience my feelings but I am not compelled to hurt some else, even at those times I want them to hurt like I hurt.
The great thing about love and care is that it is an evolving practice. When we are hard on ourselves, perhaps for not being as caring as we think we should be, like when we want someone to hurt like we’re hurting, then we can double down on patience and kindness for attempting the difficult. Perfection and the determination to reach perfection get in the way of living and loving fully. Now that we have passed the one-year mark of living in the Covid-19 pandemic, let’s applaud our grit. Let’s celebrate our imperfect love. Let’s appreciate whatever self-care we’ve been able to incorporate. Let’s acknowledge how hard this has been. Let’s commend all we’ve learned about love, care, kindness, and patience. Yay, us!
- Daydream. Let your mind go. These breaks are essential, not only for creativity, but for survival at difficult times.
- Savor breakfast. Sometimes we want our day to start so we have whatever we can in the morning. Truly enjoying our first meal is a lovely foundation for the day.
- Chew slowly. We can really relish our food by slowing down, chewing slowly. It lowers our stress and supports us being in the moment.
- Find a new source of humor. Laughter remains invaluable. Ask those who share a similar sense of humor if they can recommend a show, a comedian, a video, or anything else that will make you laugh.
- Take a picture. Whether you want to document a moment, beauty, or something meaningful, a photograph allows you to revisit it again and again.