By Ben Schoeffler
Today I’m going to talk about something that may make some people upset. In fact, just the title of the article may have ruffled a few feathers. You know the way you show your love? Yeah, you are probably doing it wrong.
Now, before you get all huffy, know that it’s okay to be wrong; most of us have been at some point. I’m wrong on a variety of topics on a near weekly basis! What I’m going to teach you will not only improve your life, but also the lives of your siblings, friends, significant others, co-workers, and children. Anyone who you love and care about. Traditionally the way we show love is through giving. Giving of time, of compliments, of gifts, of service are just a few examples. There is a whole book written on the topic of ‘Love Languages’ and how people communicate their feelings to one another. It’s good to give, but sometimes we can give so much that our lives begin to deteriorate.
Think of the last time you went on a plane trip. Before you take off they instruct you that in an emergency oxygen masks will drop down so you can breath. They stress that you should put on YOUR oxygen mask first, before you affix a mask to a child or someone else who may be struggling. Why is that? Because you can lose consciousness in seconds if all the oxygen is depleted from an environment. If you are enjoying your impromptu ‘sleepy-time’ then you won’t be able to help that child anyway. Then you are both in trouble! I’ve seen many people in my life who love others so much that they willingly sacrifice their own happiness for those people. This is a beautiful thing, but if this form of loving-sacrifice remains unchecked for too long, then eventually a person will begin to struggle. Soon stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and even medical problems may crop up. You’re body will quite literally ‘get sick’ as a way of telling you that you need to pay attention to yourself!
So what can you do? Here are a few action tips that will spark that love you have for yourself, so you can love others in a healthy way:
Do something special for yourself – You will have to decide which schedule works best for you, but it’s important to take ‘me-time’ on a regular basis. That might mean taking an afternoon for yourself every week, or maybe taking a day off to go get a massage once a month. This small investment in yourself will recharge you so you can enjoy time with your loved ones even more.
Leave the spouse at home – Relaxing with your significant other can be awesome, but hanging out with other friends (or even by yourself!) can be recharging in a different way. Being brave enough to do something by yourself will also be a non-verbal clue to your partner that it’s ok for them to take some time for themselves as well. That may be something they need too!
Buy yourself a gift – This doesn’t have to be something extravagant, it can be something as simple as a new pair of boots or a fancy cup of coffee on your way to work. If your kids are always wearing the latest brand name clothing and you are walking around in a modified potato sack, you are sending them the wrong message about love. A healthy love is one where your needs and values are just as important as another persons. If one is always put ahead of the other, that’s not fair, and it’s not a healthy relationship.
Meditate – If you don’t have the money or time to do any of that, then at the very least start a daily practice of meditation. Take 5 minutes for yourself to simply ‘be’ in the present moment with your own thoughts. Meditation reduces stress, makes you more clear headed, and brings you into emotional balance. I’ve included a simple meditation that I give to many of my clients that is a great way to get the process of self love started. If you can’t spare 5 minutes a day for yourself, then your priorities really need to get checked!
The great thing is that once you start loving yourself more, you actually have more love to give away. Love is a self-renewing resource, the more you create the more is available to give. If you truly care about those people close to you, then taking time for yourself is one of the best things you can do for them. You can even look at it from their perspective: Since they love you, wouldn’t they want you to do some things for yourself so you can enjoy life, too? Of course they would, and I guarantee they will say as much if you ask them.