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52 Ways to Show I Love You: Honoring the Self

Loving yourself can lead to responses that show your love for others.

Air France safety video/YouTube
Source: Air France safety video/YouTube

Every airline tells parents that, in the event of an emergency, they are to put on their own oxygen masks before attending to their children. When we care for ourselves — honor our own needs — we implicitly can show love to others. How do we show love to ourselves?

How do we honor ourselves?

  • Listen to ”inside information”
    • Our bodies can tell us what we are feeling and what we need. Are you cold? Might you be frightened? Are you smiling? Can you remember to do more of what makes you smile?
    • Our stream of consciousness tells us what preoccupations are claiming our attention. Remember that our dream life loves puns. When in my dream I am feeding a crowd, I am preoccupied with what I have promised to give to people.
    • Our dreams alert us to themes that are struggling for channel space.
    • Our impulses signal ways of responding — both adaptive and those that are habits — that are triggered by our feelings. Do you want to leave the task you are doing on the computer and play solitaire? Are you rewarding, avoiding, or just taking a break?
    • Our analysis of all this information can inform us of internal conflicts, identify possible responses, and help us imagine a range of potential outcomes — all the while, being sensitive to how we might feel about them.
  • Consciously decide how to respond. All that internal information can help us
    Source: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

    identify our needs as well as desires and explore ways of satisfying them. It can help us explore potential consequences and respond based on a bigger picture, rather than just instinct or training. You may decide to nourish your tired body with a nap rather than a nibble.

  • We can respond mindfully.
    • Select a solution with consciousness. Do you consider how others will be affected? The impact on others as well as on yourself) of your own priorities?
    • You can schedule the response. Very few needs are urgent — and it is pretty clear when they are. When they are not, a sense of urgency can serve as a red flag: what is really going on? Are you trying to avoid something? Is the deadline real? Are you trying to gain power in a relationship in which you feel you have already given up too much of yourself? Infinite delay rarely works out all that well — but allowing time for other priorities, tasks, projects that were already in the pipeline amounts to honoring commitments. Staying true to one’s word always helps both the self and the relationship. It is called “integrity”.
    • We can make alternate plans. When events evolve and flexibility is required, mindfulness allows us to stay tuned in to the Big Picture. Yes, you are hungry, but a baggie of nuts can be a temporary solution until space for a proper meal can be found. Yes, you want to make love, but you can find a more propitious moment for it that allows time for romance and playfulness rather than trying to cram it in between laundry and the baby’s nap time.
Source: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Why does “honoring the self” have benefits for a love relationship?

  • By taking ownership of our own wants and needs, we can better provide for them ourselves, asking others for their involvement only when it is essential or helpful or improves the outcome. By thus managing the tightrope between independence and dependence, we do not overly burden others and still recognize how much they bring to us.
  • By taking responsibility for ourselves, we help build others’ trust in us. They come to believe that we will not manipulate them. Instead, they expect us to address our own challenges and know that we will ask for input or help only when we are ready for it.
  • Communication remains direct. Few things burden a relationship as annoyingly as passive-aggressive behavior, pretending that everything is fine when it definitely is not fine. Direct communication permits acknowledgement of the situation, whatever it may be, and explores possibilities of addressing it in a range of ways. Everyone wins.

Have you had times when you knew you should tend to your own needs but had difficulty acknowledging them? What helped? Did your impulsive behavior ever lead you to hurt someone else or your relationship when, with time and inward direction the hurt could easily have been avoided?

Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower

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