“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31, NIV
If you are a follower of God like me or even mildly religious, you might have heard the first part of this verse tossed around quite a bit:
Love God, love others.
Love others, love God.
Yet, the last and most crucial part of the verse is almost always entirely forgotten.
Love others…. As you love YOURSELF.
I’ll repeat that again. We are asked to love others to the extent at which we love OURSELVES. This is exactly why the concept of self-care is so important. We cannot possibly extend unconditional love to others when we fail to offer that same gift to ourselves. We cannot adequately allow others to develop and journey through circumstance if we view our own actions as inadequate or as failures.
The level at which we love ourselves sets the precedent for how we interact with others. If we value ourselves highly, we learn to value others highly. Contrarily, carrying a negative view of our persona leads to- you guessed it - a disheartening view of the world and those around us.
In the past few months, I’ve been working to cultivate a life of gratitude. As I’ve journeyed and become more in tune with myself, I’ve noticed how my thoughts towards myself affect how I am able to celebrate and treat others. On days in which I pour love into myself, I find myself to be more “elated” with life and I find more joy in supporting and praising others.
Conversely, mornings that are opened with negative self-talk allow me to succumb to jealousy, restlessness, and unhealthy comparisons. In order to even retain the ability to GENUINELY love others, I needed to pour into my personal cup of self so much so that that love could freely spill onto those around me with no bounds.
This week, I challenge you to focus on pouring more love into yourself. Tell yourself how blessed and thankful you are for your beautiful body. How you love your wacky sense of humor. How you appreciate your ability to empathize with those that surround you and to love so fiercely. Affirm the positive beliefs you know to be true about yourself. Meditate. Give yourself an extra 5 minutes in the shower. Take a bath. Read your favorite book.
This week, intentionally craft out time for you. Show yourself the same love you want others to show you. You are your first and truest love. So, take care of yourself.
originally published april 2018