As a powerful woman, I’ve been guilty of looking in the mirror and finding fault instead of acceptance.
I’ve engaged in internal dialogues that have been degrading, rude, punitive, and judgmental. If I were to treat other people the way I used to treat myself, they would have bailed on me a long time ago. But because I can’t get away from myself, I had to stick around, deal with it, and heal from it.
Dealing with it meant that I had to feel and cope with the effects of self-neglect. Healing from it, meant understanding the origins and deciding to act and become different.
Before we dive in, I have a question for you. Are you a Whitney Houston fan?
If so, you know the title of this blog is similar to her 1985 signature song. I still know the lyrics backwards and forwards. It was one of my favorites growing up. I remember singing it in my hairbrush over, and over, and over again. When I sang, “The Greatest Love of All,” I believed every word.
The sound of Whitney’s voice is beautiful, but the lyrics are powerful. The meaning of the song is timeless, and listening to it today is still uplifting and true.
It’s about searching for and finding the greatest love that your life will ever experience.
It’s a love for someone that you will spend the rest of your life with. You will see and be with that person each and every day, and you can’t get away from her, even if you wanted to.
There’s no divorcing, breaking up, walking away, ghosting, or unfriending. She is with you at every turn as you grow, mess up, learn and relearn the facts of life. She has seen and will see you at your best and worst.
She knows your unspoken thoughts and fears.
She understands the layered depths of your story, and she’s been there during the tests and the testimonies. She knows what you look like in the morning with bed-hair and bad breath.
Do you know who she is? You guessed it, that person is YOU!
The greatest love you will ever know, develop and nurture, is self-love.
I’m not talking about loving how you look in an outfit, how you performed on that project at work, or how you feel in your relationship. The self-love that I’m referring to, means having a high regard for your personal well-being.
It means that you are protector and director of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual fitness.
It means that you prioritize and structure your life, based on how things and people help, hinder, or hurt…YOU.
Self-loving behaviors are the actions you take to position yourself to thrive, grow, and flow in the loving arms…of you. It means that you embrace ALL of who you are, which includes your flaws and fabulousness.
Loving yourself is the greatest love, because it sets the foundation for every other love that you will encounter and explore. By loving yourself you are setting a standard for how others will be allowed to love you.
If you hold yourself in high regard, those who love you, will be expected to do the same. If you respect yourself and have healthy boundaries, those who want to explore building a loving relationship with you, will be required to do the same. If you are compassionate, kind, and patient with yourself…you guessed it…it will be essential that those in personal relationships with you, do the same.
You see ladies, self-love is not a hashtag. It’s an action-oriented, internal manifestation.
It’s a relationship building process with ourselves. What I mean is, we have to know and love ourselves successfully, before we can expect someone else to.
To enhance our self-loving nature, we have to explore and embrace the dynamic essence of who we are. We have ups and downs, successes and mistakes, good days and bad days, heavy burdens and light loads, good moods and bad attitudes, relational breakups and breakthroughs.
It’s all in the package and flow of who we are.
Calm waters and stormy seas are part of the lived experience. But, so is your ability to self-love your way through it. This means allowing yourself to succeed and learn through mistakes.
It means loving yourself so much, that you ask for help, when the burdens get too tough.
This great love that I’m talking about, means that you focus on your needs, even while you are taking care of those you lead. It also means, giving up the expectation that someone else is responsible for lifting you up and filling your cup.
The reason “The Greatest Love of All” continues to inspire me, is because it talks about our very human, external pursuit of finding love, acceptance, and fulfillment.
This outward expectation that someone else will come into our life, fill our cup and lift us up, is letting us down.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want that responsibility. I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship, and held accountable for someone else’s happiness or satisfaction with life. That sounds very daunting, and more importantly…unrealistic.
No one is responsible for your life, love, and journey, but you.
If we can’t create and manifest joy, peace, harmony, or contentment within ourselves, how on earth can we expect another human being to master it? We are the answer to our life and love. But, it’s not easy to be faithful and consistent with self-loving behaviors.
This takes me to the part of the song I don’t agree with. One verse states that this “greatest love” is “easy to achieve.”
Not true…for many women. Depending on your life experiences, self-love may not have been taught or encouraged. Some women, including myself, had to work strategically on building a self-loving mindset.
It doesn’t come effortlessly. It takes the good work of exploring, learning and engaging with yourself, as your greatest love begins or expands.
Maybe today is your day to expand on the information that you have encountered here. Perhaps it’s time for you to explore how to become a better lover…of you.
While you are traveling around the town, take a listen to the podcast version of this topic. On the podcast, I give you a self-love exercise to expand this conversation, on loving yourself above all else.
Until next week Ladies, keep exploring your greatest love and how it needs to show up…for you.