In this new year of 2017 we are already facing challenges of love that many never thought possible. To spread our love into this world that desperately needs it at this time, we must first start with truly believing in the love of our Self. I invite you to join me in a challenge.
I challenge myself to dedicate 2 weeks to speaking each love language to myself to find out which I resonate most with. At the end of these 10 weeks, I will write another blog to discern my thoughts and feelings of this experience. Will you join me in this challenge?
Our mind loves to negate itself. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our mind is often telling us what we can’t do, or how stupid an idea is before we speak of it, or how bad we look in the mirror. Next time a negative thought comes through your mind, I challenge you to stop, recognize it, and repeat it outloud. Then consider whether you would say that same thought to the person you loved the most in your life. Would you want to? Then why would you say it to yourself? Recognize that is a thought and it is not you. Then, here comes the next part of the challenge - write that thought down. After, make a list of all the truths of yourself that prove that the thought is a false judgement, that it is unnecessary self deprecation. The act of making this list is important - write anything that comes to you. If you can’t think of something to write, repeat the last words you wrote. Do this for 5 minutes without stopping. Then take this list and read it out loud to yourself, somewhere where you feel comfortable to do so.
So for the next two weeks, here is my challenge to myself and I hope you join me:
- Notice a negative thought when I think it about myself
- Say it outloud and consider whether I would say this to the person I love most
- Write down that thought
- Make a list without stopping my pen for 5 minutes about all the truths of myself that prove the thought to be silly.
When I first moved to Guatemala from Washington DC eight years ago, I was completely shocked by the complete opposite pace of life. In DC I would take the Metro for 30 minutes sometimes, but there were always plenty of distractions to keep me busy: the newspaper, my ipod of music, reading articles for work. When I arrived in Guatemala, I would take hour long boat trips to nearby villages for work. These trips could be agonizing, especially because there is no real schedule for the boats and they often run out of gas in the middle of the lake or stop at multiple private docks adding precious time to the journey. On these boat rides, I only thought about all the things to do when I arrived, rather than enjoying the precious gift of time with my Self. Now, this was before the widespread use of smartphones and so today on the Lake, I have a smartphone. It is easy for me to work on my phone during this long trip across the Lake, and still miss out on this quality time.
So, my challenge to myself for two weeks, which I hope you join me, is to NOT distract myself or use my smartphone while in transit. I challenge myself to be with myself in clarity and calmness of thought during these times. To take time to reflect, meditate, or even just focus on your breathing. These exercises can be incredibly energizing, clarifying and calming. Even if you drive to work, take this time for yourself without music or talking on the phone. Let’s enjoy the journey!
On the 5th week of this challenge (after spending the four previous weeks on the first two challenges), I challenge myself to write a list of all the things I love to do for myself. What’s my guilty pleasure? My preliminary thoughts go to give myself a pedicure date, get a new dress, or enroll in that class on herbal medicine that I’ve really wanted to take. Then, I challenge myself to give those to myself over the following two weeks. Don’t worry about the money, just give and receive, and all will be in balance. Notice if you have resistance to spending on yourself. Notice if you have resistance to making the time to give yourself these gifts. Write about that, and then try to do it anyway and see how it feels. Make yourself things. Find beauty in nature and create an altar. Take a class to learn something new. Take that Kula training or retreat that’s been on your mind! Take the time, it’s the biggest gift we can give our Self.
One way is to do these things for your Self. Clean your room to feel clean and organized in your mind. Finish that project that’s been hanging over your head, like giving away old clothes or organizing the bookshelf. Make your favorite dinner for your Self. I challenge myself to try this for a week.
The second week of this part of the challenge, I challenge myself to ask for what I need. Ouch. For the strong, stubborn, and independent out there, this can be hard. When I was younger, part of my young strong-woman mind was that I didn’t need anyone. Since then, I’ve learned that part of servicing myself is expressing my needs. I challenge you to speak them too. Do you need help around the house? Ask. Do you need a tender massage for your tense shoulders? Ask. If the thought of asking for help makes you uncomfortable like it used to make me, then I challenge you to do it!
The first way is asking for and engaging in physical touch, like we worked on in the previous section. Challenge yourself to ask for and receive a hug. Challenge yourself to be vulnerable in expressing your need for touch and to opening up your personal physical space.
Another way to give yourself this love language is by taking special care of your physical body. Take a long bubble bath. Get a pumice stone and cleanse yourself of the old and stagnant energy that lingers on your skin. Practice self-massage. Challenge yourself during your morning yoga practice and notice how asana is it’s own form of massage and tension release! Drink water - drink LOTS of water - cleanse yourself from the inside and you will be amazed at the results. I challenge myself to drink 10 full bottles of water a day for two weeks! Experiment with me during these two weeks of our final Love Language and find which suits you best.
Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.
Today I call it RESPECT.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it MATURITY.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm.
Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today I call it SIMPLICITY.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is MODESTY.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know THAT IS LIFE!
About the Author
Jessi is founder of JUSTA, a non-profit organization in Guatemala that supports local artisans. She also owns and runs Seven Springs Holistic Retreat Center in East Tennessee. Join Jessi for a YTT or holistic retreat and share in one of her many passions: yoga, creativity, permaculture, natural foods... and so many more.