Learning to love yourself

Fred Cavaiani

In a busy life we can neglect nurturing our own personal self. No matter what age we might be we can become addicted to rushing through life. When we are young trying to find the right job we are preoccupied with how our life should be. When we marry and have children we become immersed in how to nurture our children properly. Then as we get older we can still find ourselves worrying about the next moment and do we have enough money for retirement (which has become a worry for every adult today). So often we become so involved in worrying about others and the condition of the world that we forget how to be kind and loving toward our self. It can be easy to think that focusing on what is good for me is selfish. Doing good things for me is only selfish if I neglect someone else that needs my attention.

Most of us neglect what is fundamentally best for our self. It might seem like we are doing things to help our self but so often we might be doing just the opposite. There are four basic principles each person needs to follow to properly nurture our own personal self. These basic principles are 1) physical nurturing 2. Emotional nurturing 3) Spiritual nurturing. 4) Intellectual Nurturing. If you look over the last couple of days reflect on how much time each day you spent on doing these fundamentals of life.

PHYSICAL NURTURING: We are spiritual and emotional beings encased in a physical body. Every aspect of our life is intimately connected. The physical, emotional and spiritual are intimately entwined. When I do something positive in one area of my life it has positive effects in the other areas of my life. When I do something harmful or neglectful in one area of my life it has negative effects on the other areas of my life. So we first start with the body. When I take time to exercise my body feels better. I will relieve emotional tension. I then become more open to what I am feeling because my body is feeling more positive and open to what is going on within me. Because I have exercised today I can listen to my inner self more. I have something good for myself. This then pushes me in the direction of having a desire to do other good things for myself. My desire for something deeper can surface. I start listening more attentively to the spiritual whisperings going on inside of me which I can often neglect. Take some time for prayer. Read something spiritual. Start meditating. After I have taken care of the physical principle of exercise and eating correctly, I begin to notice my resentments and emotional frustrations. I might just start realizing how I waste so much energy worrying about things I have no control over. I begin to realize that I should invest in understanding myself better emotionally.

EMOTIONAL NURTURING: Whenever I feel something strongly I must pay attention to it. Emotional nurturing is allowing me to feel pain and joy. I can only heal emotional wounds if I allow myself to feel them. Emotional nurturing is also the realization that whenever I am angry and hanging on to anger, this is a distraction for embracing a deeper feeling. Anger is always a superficial reaction to something deeper: hurt, fear, powerlessness, and frustration over the limitations of life and other people and me. Last week we had an icy day. It took me one hour and forty five minutes to get to my office when on a normal day is only 30 minutes at the most. Every road I turned on seemed to be blocked by accidents and congested traffic. At first it was very frustrating until I realized that I had no power over this. So I might as well make the best of this time by becoming reflective and accepting the limitations of life at this very moment. My long ride became much more peaceful. Emotional nurturing is the realization that I cannot believe everything I think. It is the realization that other people do not have to be the way I think they should be. Emotional nurturing is also becoming aware that life doesn't have to be the way I think it should be. When I realize, embrace and accept that I can't control what happens to me but I can control how I deal with what happens to me, I find an inner freedom that just wasn't there before. Emotional nurturing is also the realization that tears are not signs of weakness but they are signs of emotional depth that I need to embrace to become wiser, more loving and more joyful and free. Life is all about embracing pain and joy. Life is not about staying angry and resentful or investing in anger, resentments and criticism of other people. Life is meant to be experienced not just observed like a distant bystander. I can only be happy if I allow myself to feel pain and sadness when it surfaces. And emotional nurturing is also the realization that when I am feeling genuine joy and happiness it will be followed by some unfinished business that will surface and needs to be felt and experienced. This is normal and good. Pain when embraced will always lead to a deeper joy and peace. Whenever I feel something deeply I will be able to feel the opposite feeling also. Hanging on to anger and resentments is not feeling. It is avoiding what is really going on inside of me. Listen to your heart attentively. It will bring you into great depth and peace. Emotionally nurture yourself each day by being present to yourself. This emotional nurturing will spill over into wanting to go deeper spiritually and wanting to take better care of our self physically and inspire us to educate our self intellectually.

SPIRITUAL NURTURING: Every person has a desire for God. It comes to us in many different ways throughout the day. It can be a desire to take some quiet time alone. It can be a gentle whispering to deepen our Faith in God. Spiritual nurturing is always about being kind and loving to all. It is never about judging and condemning others. It is a searching for a loving and compassionate God and whatever denomination we might belong to this spiritual nurturing becomes a way of looking deeper into our own personal Faith and letting go of whatever is judging and condemning. It is in seeing and experiencing a Loving God and interpreting everything spiritual with this attitude of Love and Compassion and Forgiveness. Spiritual nurturing means to reserve time each day to become quiet with whoever God is for us. It means taking an abundance of quiet time each day to meditate. It means to get out of our head each day and stay in our heart in the peace and gentle stillness of a God who comes to fill us with Love and Wisdom. Spiritual nurturing is to drop our "cell phones" of preoccupation with worrying, obsessing, judging and just becoming attached to so much and taking some free time to listen and experience a God that for us is loving and all embracing. Spiritual Nurturing is to take an abundance of quiet time each day to be reflective. When we do this we are plunged into deeper desires to feel things and to want to take better care of our bodies.

INTELLECTUAL NURTURING: It is important to read articles and books that inspire us to feel things deeper and look at life in a deeper manner. Good novels can help do this also. Our brains need to be stimulated by ideas that expand our awareness of people, places and things. Some good reading each day can be very helpful. Doing some good spiritual reading that expands our awareness of our own personal self and how to connect with God in a deeper manner is a very positive action. When we watch television it is also important to watch what can nurture us intellectually and emotionally and spiritually.

We deserve to feel good in life. We deserve to have an inner peace and joy. In spite of what happens to us and around us, we can still discover inner peace and joy. But all this is dependent upon how well we are nurturing our self in a positive manner. Take care of yourself today. Reserve some time for all of these principles. You will be amazed at how this will change your life. The biggest problem in the life of each of us is that we so often do not do the fundamentals of life on a daily basis. So as some advertisements say: "Just Do It."

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Tue, Feb 14, 2017