I remember sitting in my family’s Aerostar minivan, circa 1987, passionately singing along with Whitney with all my 10 year gusto…
“Because the great-t-test, love of all, is happ-pppening to meeeeeee…. I found the great–t–test love all, inside of meeee..”
Sadly, even at this young age, I was well practiced at condemning my body, doubting my instincts, shaming my desires, suppressing my needs and being hyper focused on my perception of everyone else’s needs. The words of this song felt like an anthem of liberation – permission to throw off the shackles of self-hatred, stretch the confines of the theology of sin, and break free from the prison of relying on external validation I had learned from the culture around me. I could proudly declare that I had (we all had!) the key to the deepest, most satisfying love of all within ourselves.
And not only that, but Ms. Houston believed I (and all the other children) were the future who would usher in and lead this revolution of self love. Something in my awoke with that song, and hasn’t gone back to sleep.
The problem with self-love is that it’s usually only self-“ish” — most of us define self-care as something done only out of desperation, once we are totally spent after taking care of every other possible person or duty. Or possibly we allow ourselves to be “spoiled” with a treat on special days or reward ourselves after so successfully successfully suppressing our needs.
This paradigm leaves everyone unsatisfied. When we fill our cups only after they’ve been fully emptied and then spend the rest of our time filling everyone else’s or demanding they fill ours, no one’s true thirst is quenched.
When we ignore our own needs for long enough we can become the kind of self-”ish” that gets such a bad rap. At this point of burn out there’s literally no more energy to give to anyone else and we become isolated and unaware of others needs. Our hearts are too tired to be open.
But here’s the deal – at our cores we were created to serve, support and love one another. We are literally biologically rewarded for helping and connecting with others. So when we are connected to our natural flows, service is effortless… even energizing. Receiving and giving become one act.
When I hang out at the tap of what feels pleasurable and aligned and energizing for ME, I not only stay FILLED UP and TURNED ON, but I also feel TUNED IN… and my overflowing cup bathes everyone around me with more love, light and energy.
When we release the obligation or shoulds – it can feel amazing to offer something that someone else desires. When our cup is full, we don’t even have to try… it happens organically. Instead of becoming self-centered, we find ourselves centered in ourselves and able to in more authentic relationship.
So this month, as we approach Valentine’s day, I invite you to stop being self-”ish” – and commit to being self-“full”– to follow your nudges, indulge your desires and take every single responsibility you have and turn it into the ability to respond to in a way that feels good and aligned for you.
May we each shift burn out by turning up delights… and soften into the trust that tending to our own needs IS tending to the needs of those you love and ultimately the worlds.
Loving you, by loving me,