Love After Love
A Poem by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread, Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
From your first breath until your last, there is only one person that is guaranteed to be will be with you every step of the way, who will hear your every thought and share your deepest desires and values, who will sit with you as you experience the depths of your emotions; love, joy, ecstasy, bliss, fear, anger, grief, and even shame.
Sometimes, your truest friend, other times, your harshest critic.
This “stranger” who knows us by heart…is US, and we are worthy of love. We do not have to ‘be’ or ‘do’ anything to be loved. It is our birthright.
More often than not, we direct our love outwards. And while the love of others is one of the most beautiful parts of our life, it is equally important that we love ourselves.
Self-love is fundamental to living our most authentic, big life,
Self-love is not a state of perfection, and it is not always being happy. It is not based on our success or achievements, and it does not shame or criticize. Self-love shines through even when we make mistakes or don’t accomplish our goals. When we love ourselves, we acknowledge our flaws and weaknesses, accepting our imperfections with compassion and grace.
When we show ourselves love, we are filling in our own internal need to such a degree that there is overflow. And in that abundance, we do not feel lack, and our love spills over to others. Self-love is the root from which everything grows, and the fuel that will allow us to reach our full potential.
The Benefits of Self-Love.
Imagine for a moment what our lives would look like if we loved ourselves unconditionally. What would be different? What would change if we let go of self-doubt, self-judgment, perfectionism, or the fear of not being enough?
Imagine a life where we feel whole, worthy, and fully accepting of every aspect of ourselves. Self-love is an incredible force that opens the door to feeling free and being in alignment with who we really are. It will uplift us, change the way we view life, and lead to greater health, happiness, success, and wellbeing.
The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship in our life. When we love and respect ourselves, we can relate and connect better with others. Self-love also creates a precedent for others to treat us with love and respect. And with time, self-love makes it easier to let go of our unhealthy relationships and situations.
Think of Self-love as Yoga Practice.
There is no “finish line” we cross when we officially love ourselves, and cultivating self-love doesn’t mean we have to love every single thing about ourselves. every day.
Self-love is an everyday practice, and some days will be easier than others. If we start by accepting ourselves as we are now, and then we practice treating ourselves with compassion, grace, and gratitude, we will get better at showing ourselves the love we deserve.
Like any habit, accepting and being kinder to ourselves will take time and commitment. We must be patient and release the expectations of perfection that we place on ourselves.
Cultivate Mindfulness and Listen Inwardly.
Self-love starts with awareness and mindfulness. When we have cultivated authentic self-love, we tend to have a better understanding of ourselves. So, we need to take some time to look inward, attend to our thoughts and feelings, and ponder on the following:
- What do we say when we speak to ourselves? Is our self-talk positive and encouraging, or negative and self-critical?
- What are our deepest needs, desires, and values?
- What do we appreciate and admire about ourselves?
- What are we grateful for?
By connecting inwardly, we can make more discerning and empowered choices. We can release other people’s expectations of us and live more in alignment with our true selves.
One of the most loving things we can do is to practice self-care. Whether it’s healthy activities, good nutrition, exercise, meditation, or simply resting and reflecting, taking time to focus on what nourishes us is essential. Self-care restores the mind and body. It will help us to meet the world feeling recharged. And it is a powerful affirmation to ourselves that we deserve to be treated with love.
As we add more loving, self-care actions to our daily lives, we will feel better about ourselves and value our needs, making us happier.
Developing a regular self-love practice is about honoring our needs and valuing our own happiness and well-being. If at first this feels strange or uncomfortable, that’s okay! It will just take practice for it to feel more natural.
As we develop a more loving and compassionate way of thinking and being, we will feel a general sense of peace.
Remember, love is the truth of who we are. It is the source of everything, and it is our birthright. All we have to do is open ourselves up to receiving it. When we open ourselves to love, we fully embody our power. We will create a life the way we want it to be; BIG, BOLD, where anything and everything is possible.