You’re absolutely exhausted and looking forward to an evening in your PJs with a box set of DVDs when someone calls with gossip you don’t want to hear about someone you don’t know that well. Do you
a) Write off your downtime, put the DVDs to one side and give them your best attention.
b) Say, ‘Would it be okay to talk about this tomorrow?’ and then when you’re rested, gently explain that you’d rather not hear any gossip.
c) Say, ‘I’m really tired and actually I don’t care. You need to get a life instead of going around trashing people.’
A friend who’s borrowed money before and never returned it asks to borrow the deposit for a holiday. You’ve just about got enough to get to your next pay cheque. Do you
a) Lend it to them and pray they repay you on time.
b) Say, ‘I’d love to help you out but I don’t have any to spare right now. Actually, I was kind of hoping you’d be able to pay me the money you borrowed before…’
c) Say, ‘Are you for real? You didn’t pay me back last time and now you want to borrow more? For a holiday? You need to get yourself together.’
You’re going through a dating dry spell and someone with ‘trouble’ tattooed on their forehead asks you out. Do you
a) Accept in case that’s the last offer you’ll ever get because you can’t bear the idea of ending up alone.
b) Tell them how flattered you are but say a graceful no.
c) Look them up and down slowly, snort and say ‘You are joking, aren’t you? Me go out with you?’
A colleague is burning the candle at both ends and expects you to pull their weight at work. Do you
a) Take on their tasks and hope someone steps in to rescue you before you buckle.
b) Suggest a chat where you help them work out how they can balance their personal life with work.
c) Storm off, march in and demand that your boss does something.
You comfort eat under pressure. After a bad day at work, a chocolate cake brought back by someone you share your home with is screaming your name. Do you
a) Eat the lot and buy them two to make up for it. And then eat them too.
b) Run yourself a hot bath, chuck rose petals in it, light some candles and don’t come out until you’re human again.
c) Eat the cake and accuse your flatmate of trying to sabotage you.
You drop a plate and break it. Do you
a) Berate yourself for being clumsy, stupid, useless….
b) Clear it up and buy a new one.
c) Immediately try and think whose fault it could be.
When push comes to shove, you tend to sacrifice your own needs for others. This is where understanding what loving yourself really means comes in. It’s not about thinking that you are the bees knees or more important than anyone else. It’s about acting in a way that is takes care of you and shows compassion to others at the same time. If you love yourself, that comes second nature. If you don’t, you could start by getting curious about what you would do differently if you were behaving towards yourself as though you really were your own best friend rather than someone who would sell you down the river in the blink of an eye. Act as if you do love yourself, and you’ll grow into it. Astonishingly, you’ll discover you actually have more to give.
However you’ve done it, you’ve managed to arrive at a place where you are able to be loving to yourself and hold on to your connection and compassion for others. You can make choices that support what you need in the moment and you can do it in a way that respects that we are all on our own individual journeys and still connected in spiritual and practical ways. This is what healthy self love looks like. You can say no and ask for your needs to be met without expectation or blaming and shaming others. You can take care of you in a way that doesn’t snatch from anyone else.
You are desperately trying to take care of yourself, but you’re doing it in a way that is most likely to create a ripple effect of negative consequences that are probably the last things you want to set in motion. It might be because you feel desperately overwhelmed. It could be because oddly enough, you’ve cut yourself off from understanding we’re all on our own journey of evolution that we take in connection to the whole. As part of that journey, others can step over the line and our boundaries in all sorts of ways for all sorts of reasons. Understanding that they are doing the best they can and loving yourself through doing the same will transform your life – and you will be doing your bit to evolve the whole to boot. Work on developing true compassion and forgiveness for yourself and others and you’ll see miracles.