Loving your Self
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Valentine’s Day is a little strange. Modern culture already puts more value on romantic relationships than any other kind of relationship, so having one day focused on romance puts a lot of pressure on people in relationship as much as making single people feel left out. And then this is probably the strangest time for a Valentine’s day since Word War 2.
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, this is the perfect time to learn to love yourself more. Have you really given yourself loving time and attention like you would a partner? Doing this will bring more love into your life, help you grow as a person, and make you feel good all at the same time.
We’ve all heard that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, which can be really frustrating advice. Here’s the trick – before you can love yourself you have to know yourself. Not that we’ll ever fully know ourselves, but the path to learning and then accepting ourselves is the path to loving more. And there’s no time like a lockdown to practice this.
Really – here we are spending more time at home than ever, with no parties or concerts or events to attend, so there’s less than ever to distract us. Which is probably why it’s been so tempting to find in-home distractions like watching more shows, drinking more, eating more (the “Quarantine Fifteen”), indulging in our comforts.
And there is absolutely no shame in any of that. This time period is a huge change and comfort is a real thing. Sometimes these things keep us sane. And it’s been a year now, so try to find a balance between distraction and inner work. Most of us have extra time on our hands, and we can use that time to turn inward and go deep, to do that healing we’ve been meaning to do. It is in catastrophes that we can find the deep piece of ourselves that is stable in the midst of instability, that is unchanging in the midst of change. This is a great time to evaluate what you truly value in your life.
You are Never Alone
And remember that even when you feel alone, you are never truly alone. Despite the American myth of self-sufficiency, we are all connected by a web of interdependence. Now more than ever.
You had ancestors who brought you here. Even if your relationship with your living family is troubled, somewhere in your timeline there were healed and healthy ancestors. You had 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents, and so on. You go back a few hundred years and there were hundreds of people who gave birth and then nourished and raised their children to adulthood just so you could be alive here today. Their blood runs through your veins, their DNA is a part of you.
You are the descendant of so many, and in 100 years you will be the ancestor. Maybe you have your own kids, or help parent someone else’s kids, but even if you don’t there are still ways that you are influencing this world that you probably don’t even recognize.
What are you teaching others? What are you sharing? What are you doing to make the world a better place for other people? What are you doing to nourish and protect the earth so future generations have a safe home? It might be something so small you don’t even think about it as teaching, but think about how many people influenced you in ways small and great to get you where you are today, and probably most of those folks don’t even know how much influence they had on you.
None of us is completely self-sufficient, despite the American myth of “bootstraps.” Even our food comes from somewhere else. Even if we grow it all in our own garden, then we still depend on healthy seeds, on sunshine and rain, on microbes and nutrients in the soil. If we buy something then it has gone through so many hands – from farmers and manufacturers to distributors to stores. We are all part of a huge web and we all depend on each other – something that has never been more apparent than now.
So remember, you are not alone in all this. And we are all doing our part to keep the wheel spinning
Loving and Nurturing Ourselves
Loving yourself is selfish, but in the best way. Taking time and nourishing our bodies and minds means we teach others to be healthy by example. It means we have more to give to our community because we’re not coming from a place of deficiency. We are more able to give the gift we came to this world to give.
So find ways to actually nurture yourself so you feel better in the future. What do you do every day to nourish yourself? Pay attention, it’s a good time to do more of that.
Here are some ideas:
- Start a daily practice like yoga, tai chi, or working out
- Journal daily or weekly
- When you feel tired, rehydrate with lemon water instead of drinking a second cup of coffee
- Call a friend just to say hi, check in to see how they’re doing and do more listening than talking
- Write a letter to someone you know, or someone you don’t know
- If there’s something you do that you know makes you feel worse, instead of fretting about it, go without it for a week and see how you feel (you already know what this is for you)
- Stop everything you’re doing and have a 5 minute dance party in your living room
- I keep a list of inspiring activities for those lonely nights when I have nothing to do and can’t think myself out of a box
And of course since this is an herbal blog, here are some herbs to enhance self-love. Not surprisingly these are some of the same herbs I talked about in my last blog about balancing the nervous system.
- Tulsi is said to enhance feelings of devotion. This might sound religious, but it can also mean devotion to your self, to your family, or to your community. It helps us relax our attachments so we can be more fully present
- Reishi is my favorite medicinal mushroom. It nourishes the heart and helps encourage peaceful sleep, especially after emotional trauma. But it creates peace and heart healing for anyone.
- Rose is one of the most classic heart medicines. It is so common that it’s easy to forget what big medicine it is for healing the heart. It can help when someone feels closed off to love and loving to be open to connecting again, to soften the inner armor.
- Damiana is the most sensual herb that I know. Sometimes it is considered an aphrodisiac, but that’s because it helps get us back in our bodies. It seems to enhance sensory experience while both relaxing and stimulating our mind. This herb is the basis of many love potions, including our sibling company Pine’s Herbals Sweet Love Potion (which blends Damiana with Rose and Lavender) and Hot Love Potion (more stimulating with Ashwagandha, Muira Puama, and Cinnamon). Click if you want to learn more about those magical potions.
So take the time to love and appreciate yourself, even the dark parts of yourself (because Valentine’s Day takes place during the dark part of the year). Do something this week that deeply nurtures yourself, and remember that you have people around you who are ready to love and support you even when you don’t see it right away.