You must love yourself in order to love anyone else. We’ve heard this adage before and we can understand its truth.

But are we really loving ourselves? Truly? Deeply? Body, mind, heart, soul?

Or are there little pockets where we are withholding love?

At the end of 2016, judgements swirled at the height of a presidential election and the media was saturated with criticisms and finger-pointing.

As I observed this play out on the world screen, I turned my gaze inward, noticing I had my own little tit for tat going on within.

I was ashamed to admit it, but it was true. I wasn’t loving myself, unconditionally. Truth be told, there were pockets in my mind where I just wasn’t being kind. Sometimes the thoughts would flit so quickly, they’d often go unnoticed. But their sear was cumulative and lasting.

A criticism of myself for not having been more patient with Jeb: “Well that exchange will scar him for life. I’m an awful mother.”

A judgement that my stir-fry just didn’t turn out with the spice I was hoping for: “No matter how I try, I’m just a terrible cook.”

A defeated look in the mirror: “Wow, I’m getting old. Who is that ugly woman in the mirror?”

It’s not easy to admit that I would send these silent zingers to myself. It’s even harder to type them out to lay bare in the ether here. But perhaps they sound familiar. My wish would be that these quiet put downs are alien to you. But I suspect that all too often, many of us fall prey to the mental looping of continual criticism, which eats away at our esteem and staves off love.

So tired I was of being mean to myself, but not sure how to stop the habit, I grasped for something tangible. I put a big pause on what I was feeding myself, literally. I chose not to put in anything unhealthy. I chose to add only the highest, most nutritious food and phyto-nutrients. I figured I could start with my body and hopefully the vessel that housed my mind would have influence on my thoughts.

As I loved my body by giving it the utmost care, I began to see more loving thoughts cross my mind. The negative judgements dissolved. My cells reverberated with more kindness. I felt happier. I had more patience. Food was more appreciated and flavorful. I saw my true and beautiful self in the mirror again. I felt younger, more inspired.

We hold our hearts in our own hands. We get to choose how to treat ourselves. I’m still learning. But as we enter the month of Valentine’s Day with hearts and flowers, chocolates and diamonds, I’d like to advocate for the truest gem: our own hearts.

Delicate and pure, full of infinite potential. Lets house them well. Nurture them. Then spread the love.

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