Thursday, 20 January 2011

Resolve to Love Yourself

I heard on the radio this morning that we have just passed 'Blue Monday' the day when most people feel the worst about themselves all year due to the miserable weather, worrying debt, less wages than they would like, and to top it all, a feeling of failure because they have not stuck to (probably unrealistic) new year's resolutions.

In Thought for the Day this morning Rhidian Brook suggested one cure for these mid-Winter blues was to make resolutions realistic and even bite sized.  So rather than say 'I will get fit' or 'I will lose 2 stone', plan a walk or other enjoyable physical activity for today, and perhaps a couple more times in the week ahead. 20 minutes at your own pace is a good idea for beginners, but if you are already fairly active then thirty minutes building up to 5 times a week would be a reasonable plan.

Excessive, gruelling exercise will weaken your immune system, which is the last thing you want at this time of year.

Likewise, if you have planned to diet, why not change that plan to eating more healthily, filling up with hearty vegetable soups and maybe some salad with your lunch. Low fat is good, especially animal fat, but fat is essential to our health, so use small amounts of vegetable oils and nibble on a few nuts rather than high fat cheese.  Apparently coconut and coconut milk should also be used sparingly as they contain less healthy fat.

If you have been concentrating on saving the planet or helping other people, or both, now is the time to make sure you have time for yourself: time to relax and time to do things you enjoy.

The second commandment of the Ten Commandments is often quoted to encourage people to help others, but the second part of that commandment is often overlooked:
'love your neighbour as you love yourself'
I've had it said to me that it means that as you look after your own needs, so you should look after the needs of others, but to my mind, simply feeding and clothing people as a way of showing that you really care for them seems an inadequate expression of love, which is not to say that there is no place for charitable giving.

What many people seem to have forgotten is that there are plenty of people who do not love themselves, and they may well be unpleasant to others and find it hard to express real love as a result.  People who feel inadequate are often critical of others, to try to feel better about themselves.  People with low self-esteem can be very defensive, which can seem like they are attacking others. People who don't take good care of themselves can be dismissive of others' needs.

So, this year why not resolve to take time to look after your needs. Listen to your body and also your emotional state.  If you are pushing yourself too hard, you may be doing yourself damage and your family and friends may also be suffering if you are too tired to care or to be pleasant.

These days I try to pace myself and take time to do the things I enjoy. I found that learning  to accept myself, warts and all helped me to be much more at ease with myself, and as a result, with other people.

Don't expect to be perfect, no one is.  Don't feel you have to live up to your parents' expectations; do what fulfils your needs and hopes and dreams. Don't hate your faults, we all have them and they are an integral part of who we are.   You could try to do something about the one that annoys you most, but you might need to find out what is behind it first. Remember, too, that if we never fail it is because we never try.

Live to please yourself without being utterly selfish.  If you are happy and healthy you will have more to give others.

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