Forgetting to Love Ourselves

I recently got some new shirts. As I was ironing them for the first time I realised – these shirts (while possibly the nicest and most expensive I’ve ever owned) were going to require ironing every time I wore them.

To which I immediately thought “Well, I guess I won’t be wearing them much then.”

And I had a sudden realisation.

Recently I’ve been in something of a financial lull – certainly compared to when I was working in investment banking, or managing my own investments.

Back then, I used to iron 7 shirts a week, every week – or 14 at a go (4 mins each, it’d take about an hour) if I got lazy one weekend. That was just part of looking good and feeling good.

So what had changed?

Was I somehow suddenly not worth ironing shirts for?

It turned out yes, that was exactly how I was feeling. One of those old tricks of the English language, if I was “worth less” (financially), I was (to some small degree) “worthless.”

As my finances had taken a down turn, I’d forgotten to keep loving myself.

Not in terms of self harm (although I’ve definitely done plenty of that in the past, if you include overdoing coffee, working too hard, late nights, and an occasionally over-enthusiastic tipple).

It’s the little things though.

When you’re in a relationship with someone, big things – buying you a new car, going on holiday – well, these definitely stand out. However, it’s really the little things that matter.

Do they ask how your day went? Do they touch you? Are they forgiving and supportive? Do they let you be yourself?

These are the things that show how deeply someone truly loves you. These are the things that become life-or-death for a relationship.

And it’s these little things that are so easy to forget, particularly when life gets trying – which of course is when we need that love the most.

Of course, this is complicated by the fact that it’s so much easier to love someone else than it is to love ourselves.

We are, so often, our own worst critic.

And yet loving ourselves is far more important than having someone else love us. We’re the only person who will be with us our entire lives.

Learning to love ourselves. On a daily basis, practising loving ourselves. These are the single most powerful things we can do to increase our sense of well being, our happiness and thus our quality of life.

Ironing my shirts or not is such a ridiculously small thing, and yet, so often the small things in life show us deep truths about the larger. How you do anything is how you do everything.

When I looked deeper, I could see more ways that I’ve stopped loving myself:

  • I’ve been giving myself an inordinate amount of grief for various choices I’ve made (and this despite healing everything I’ve been conscious of – this beating myself up was more like a deep miasmic cloud, below my level of consciousness)
  • My sense of self worth and value in the world has dropped through the floor (with all the commensurate side effects this has)
  • My boundaries have shrunk in terms of the type of behaviour I’m prepared to accept from others

…and no, I haven’t been as forgiving and supportive as I could have been. I haven’t let me be truly myself as much as I could have.

These things are so subtle, so easy to miss when life gets a bit hurley burley.

Look at the little things. Check, are you treating yourself as gently as you could be? Are you loving yourself as unconditionally as possible. Letting those daily upsets go? Are you really being your own best friend?

Little steps, like this, lead to bliss.

It’s a process, but the first step is awareness. Have we simply forgotten to love ourselves?