LOVING YOURSELF- THE KEY TO TRUE COMPASSION
They say that you must first love yourself before you can truly love another without feeling limitations or needing something in return. When Lucas came into this world, I experienced what it was to love another human being without reservation. It has been through my son, and his regression into this world of autism, that I was able to add another layer to this and truly began to understand what it meant to experience unconditional love. Through completely loving and accepting my son as the beautiful human being that he is, in spite of society’s perceived “imperfections”, I was ultimately given the gift of learning how to truly love and accept myself.
In this world we are constantly given messages that we need to make people like and accept us, that people’s needs are more important than our own, that we need to “fit in” in order to be happy and that practicing self-love is selfish and egioic. The truth is that the reason self-love is so difficult and unaccepted by society today is that most people prefer comfort, stability, security, and control. We give up so many pieces of ourselves in order to achieve this and in turn we create a life of mediocrity and end up unhappy. When you make loving yourself a priority, you: take care of yourself, honor your limitations, listen to your needs, own your potential, and respect your dreams enough to take action and create a beautiful life for yourself!
Self-love……So how do you get there? How did I get there? Let me state that I am, we all are, a constant work in progress. It is so easy in today’s world to forget about making ourself a priority. However, until you are able to love yourself, you will never be able to genuinely love another human being. The following are a few of the reminders I hold closest to my heart that allow me continue building on the premise of loving and accepting myself:
- Remain grateful. Focus on the positive. Train yourself to be grateful at every point in your life and during every challenge. There is always a reason to live in appreciation!
- Let go! Accept uncertainty. Be present and discover the power of having fun! Dance! Smile more! Stop caring about what you look like to others and putting so much emphasis on their opinions of you.
- Be real! Allow yourself to be seen, known and heard. Allow intimacy in your relationships. Be open and let people know the real you! Know that you are worth truly knowing!
- Learn to filter out untrue and unhealthy perceptions. If you base your self worth on the external worlds’s perceptions, you will never be capable of self-love. There is no such thing as perfection. Love your imperfectly perfect self! When you love yourself, others will fall in line, I promise you. The only person in charge of your perception of you is you! Acceptance and love must come from within and you will never get there by comparing yourself to others.
- Realize everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment. People cannot exercise unconditional love if they only know conditional love. The actions of those who do not support you or speak ill of you is almost always rooted in the fear and pain they themselves are feeling. This fear and pain is from their insecurities and the fact that they do not truly love themselves. Once I personally realized that these judgements were coming from a place of pain and discomfort, I found I was able to stop reacting to the negativity and began to accept and understand each person from a place of compassion. Just coming from this place of understanding and love many times will motivate those in pain and discomfort to begin to think positively and with compassion.
- Remember that how other people treat you is so many times a reflection of how they treat themselves. Some people will mistreat you because they are threatened by you in some way which only heightens their own insecurities. The more you understand this, the easier your path becomes.
- Often there is an illusion that “ we are humans encountering a life experience when in reality it is life encountering a human experience” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Allow yourself the room to fully experience human condition. You cannot do this if you are coming from a place of discomfort and are untrue to your authentic, genuine self.
- Lastly and most importantly……GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO EXPERIENCE SELF-LOVE! It can feel selfish in a world where we are told to put others first, however, our attitude about ourself has powerful effects on the outcome of our life. Self-love is not selfish. It’s about connecting to and honoring your authentic self and your underlying needs, celebrating you, and being free to be you. All of these actions will radically improve every aspect of your life.
Why is self-love so important? The moment you begin to love yourself, life changes and it instantly begins to move in a positive direction. Everything happens with more ease, your relationships change for the better and health improves. It is truly extraordinary!
- You start to recognize and prioritize your needs.
- You make choices and do what truly feels right for you.
- You begin to learn about yourself and in the process become the person you have always strived to be…your true self!
- You gain significant clarity on what you will not accept in your life and set boundaries.
- You learn to accept and embrace the good things in your life because you deserve them!
- You no longer become a victim of circumstances, as if your life is happening to you, because you are able to recognize challenges as lessons!
- You realize that you have the power to choose how you show up in this world and by doing so, you become empowered.
And the ultimate reasons self-love is so important:
- By completely loving and accepting yourself, you can now freely love others without feeling depleted. You cannot give a love to others that you do not have within. You will become drained if you try. When giving love to others from a place of self-love and joy, it is energizing and feels good. It becomes genuine and you are able to love someone else without needing anything from them. Love is the binding agent that holds humanity together.
- You will also be able to find long-lasting happiness. The more you love yourself, the more you feel complete. The more you feel complete, the happier you become. Realize that you have the power to choose your happiness, you are in charge of it and loving yourself is the first step in finding it!
This journey of self-love is not easy and takes time. In my voyage of discovering and practicing self-love, I found that I initially stopped fitting in and felt isolated. I knew I no longer wanted to continue to be in that misery-loves-company pack . I also wanted to continue surrounding myself in positive energy. As I continued to walk this path, I realized that over time like attracts like. The more I lived my life in positivity, I found the more my light drew other lights to me. Once you discover the energy that is received from being surrounded by positivity and love, you will never settle for less.
Program Side Note/Update:
I am excited and so blessed to say that we are adding 3 amazing volunteers to our team! I can’t wait to share Son-Rise with them and am grateful for their loving hearts to want to give to our family and our son.
Because of our dedicated team and Son-Rise, Lucas continually makes significant progress! Two years ago, Lucas was speaking in one to two word phrases with no conversational loops (i.e. back and forth communication between two people), most of his verbal capacity was scripted from t.v. shows and was not useful in relating to those around him. He did not seem able to respond to any questions or directions given and had no affinity for affection (given or received). Now, not only can Lucas clearly display that he understands us, but the quality of his conversational skills have grown leaps and bounds! He is consistently using full sentences (created from his own vocabulary bank using articles, adjectives, connectors, etc.), he is clear and understandable when he speaks and he now readily spends more time immersed in “our” world than in exclusivity. He laughs every day and truly enjoys the company of the people in his life.
So the video clip I am sharing in this post is of our amazing Son-Rise play facilitator, Susan, who visited a week ago. In this video, you will see her pulling Luke’s motivations into their interactions as well as working on language, clarity and imaginative play among so many other social skills. The fundamentals of this program is the reason we see such exponential social growth in our kids. The Son-Rise principles teach us to willingly go feet-first into our special children’s world full of enthusiasm, energy and excitement in order to relate to, love and understand them. They respond instantly! It is through our gained understanding of them that we are able to reach them and make such progress. Enjoy!