Last week was a harrowing one, and with this Monday we begin again, facing a new week with a familiar sense of trepidation, of disharmony, of fear that we've come to expect if still not comfortable with. I'm certain as the national conventions kick off in both political parties this week, the unrest will continue. What I hope, sincerely but desperately, is that as conflict and confrontation take center stage in the news this week, we vow not to do so within ourselves.
It's a funny thing, setting out in a conscious attempt to be more gentle with one's self. And now, more so than I've seen in my lifetime, it's even more vital. What makes it so damningly important is that if we truly wish to find more peace and joy and celebration in our world, we'll have to start with ourselves. Yes, there will be much larger battles to fight on our political landscape in the coming week, but at least for today, let's worry only about the war we wage against ourselves, within ourselves. Just for today, starting on this beautiful Monday morning with a fresh start to what we know will be a long and hard week like the last many have been, let's take time to cultivate peace, gentleness, and compassion for ourselves, within our selves.
There is much talk about self love these days on Pinterest, Instagram and the like. And while I'm sure I'll meet your expectations of being an advocate of any measures of self love, they feel to me as if only scratching the surface of something. If 'self love' is to be committed in a physical act - time spent alone, a Sunday night bath before we meet here on Monday and prep for our responsibilities, an hour reading a book under your covers tonight after work. If that is to be the state of self love, then this week's topic is not about self love, but loving the self. Loving the light in you that still so courageously sees light in me and has met me back here on this website. Loving the light within yourself that gives you the bravery to face this week with me. Loving the part of you that can never be harmed by the dangerous and awful acts happening around the world. That light cannot be harmed, and though they will try, you and I will commit to stoking it today.
And why must we do that? Should we see it as selfish to focus on our 'selves' at a time of such violence and opposition? No. Because unless you make time to refuel your own light, you cannot re-spark the light of others. Unless you ensure your own heart, mind and body are sound, you do not have the right to impact anyone else's. Simply put, unless you take care of you first, you have nothing to offer anyone else.
Love Yourself First
Cultivate an acceptance of who you are and what you feel impassioned to do. Grow that acceptance of yourself to be so strong, it can't be hindered by anything or anyone else, including your ego. Commit to loving, forgiving, and embracing exactly who you are to such a degree that you can only love and forgive and embrace everyone else for exactly what they are. Let what makes you different be what makes you remarkable. Accept that what sets you apart is the key to the impact you'll make all people's lives, because you believe in doing things for others and yourself. What a beautiful thing to realize that you can only serve others in serving yourself, and you can only serve your true self in serving others. It is one of the most magical and miraculous feats life itself enacts every single day.
Protect Yourself First
Learn to care for and adore yourself in a way that is only empowering. If anything you do does not serve to make you feel love in and outside of yourself, get rid of it. Protect yourself from things, people, or habits that break you down or make you unwilling to dream. Take yourself away from any acts that hinder you from your inner strength and imagination. Learn to fight for your heart and your best self: don't watch that TV show that makes you feel insecure or zombied into addiction. Don't visit those websites that make you compare yourself to others rather than keeping your eyes pushed forward on what's possible. Get yourself in front of whatever will fuel your soul's fire: art, music, people, the outdoors, creating, feeling, stretching, moving, seeing, tasting, learning. Protect yourself as if you were your own child, and feed your dreams with any wonder you can find around you. If it's damaging or hurtful or egotistical, shelter your eyes from it.
Let Go Of Yourself First
Trust that whatever curiosities or dreams you have are not only your own, they are the divine wish of this incredible life working through you to create something big and beautiful. Let go of your feelings of being alone, of being unsupported, and humble yourself with the realization that though it looks hard, or even impossible, this wonderful life of yours is diligently working in ways you aren't even big enough or enlightened enough to see, in order to help you. Let go of your self, and trust it to this life and to whatever you believe in. Do not, under any circumstances, subscribe to the fear-based logic of believing that if you don't understand something or can't see how it could come to be, you aren't good enough for it. Don't tell yourself you're not smart enough, good enough, or worthy enough of the kind exciting life experience you want. Do not block yourself that way. Instead, just know that if a desire to do or be something is within you like an unlit match, then throw that match against the brimstone of reality and let it create a fire so big and bright and hot, it spreads like wildfire across your entire existence.
Bring Peace to Yourself First
This is an age in desperate need of peace and love. The only way to help create the kind of peace this world so badly needs is to create it within yourself first, and let it spread out from you. The best part is, that peace is already there inside you, waiting for you to just let it do it's work. It's hidden down in the depths of your heart where you shoved it last time something went wrong. Reach down in there and get that personal peace back. It might feel at first like giving up or giving in, because you'll be letting go of all the grips you held on to too tightly: trying to be perfect, to be liked, to be wanted, to be beautiful. But then you'll see that all those ways you were gripping on were just trying to manipulate the future, and thats an impossible task. Peace says to us: "let go of your needs of the future, and be here right now, accepting yourself exactly as you are in this very moment." Once that peace begins to breathe again in you, it will be easy to gift it out to others in everything you do, again proving that your purpose enlivens most in the service of others.
And one last note: I know that not everyone feels compelled to read articles like this. I know, after almost 12 years as a published writer, that most people much prefer a flashy headline and harrowing details. That, however, does not feel like the way my purpose is meant to unfold through words. I believe that there are people (you, for example) who still enjoy reading the type of works that have soul, sincerity and ambition to them. If you are that kind of reader, appreciative of a writer with a heart on her pen and sleeve, let me know with a 'Hell Yes' in your comments below.
Rachael Yahne is a writer, blogger and cancer survivor currently living in Los Angeles. After years as a fashion journalist, she now writes lifestyle articles about purpose, passion, style, well-being and thriving after surviving not just cancer, but all of life's big battles. You can read more of her work at HerAfter.com