A few years ago I found myself totally overwhelmed because I had too much on the go: too much work, too many demands from home and family and Self … you know, life.
I was giving and doing too much because of a belief that my self-worth and lovability is measured by how useful I am to others.
When I recognised that, I asked, “If I loved myself, what would I choose to do now?” and my Truth was, “I’d try to learn otherwise.”
So, I gave myself permission to say no, to increasingly withdraw from my work and projects, and just take time to be.
I did only what was necessary and cut out all the rest.
It was exciting and scary and challenging to not be doing much.
Sometimes I felt confused and anxious, but overall my needs for quiet time out were being met and I felt listened to and cared for by me—which made me feel safe.
And then it changed.
I began to notice that the quiet time wasn’t making me feel good anymore.
I was starting to feel unfocused, restless, and dissatisfied.
Over and over I asked myself, “If I loved myself, what would I choose to do now?” but the answers were foggy.
After a few weeks (yes, seriously, weeks!) I raised my problem with some trusted friends, one of whom suggested I was being ‘indulgent’ rather than self-loving.
“Why have you stopped doing the things that feed your spirit?” he asked, referring to my work and personal projects.
“Fear lets us know we’re being pushed beyond our previously known limitations,” another reminded me.
Armed with these ideas, I finally opened my mind enough to ask, “If I could do anything, and I loved and cared about myself, what would I choose to do now?”
When it comes to our Truth, we should always expect the unexpected.
My answer was, “I want to get busy again.”
Actually, that’s my interpretation: my Inner Self’s exact words were, “Use me! You have a great car—don’t keep it in the garage.”
Are you kidding me? I was doing nothing because I’d listened to myself!
What confused me was that taking time off was self-love.
But what I hadn’t understood is that while I had needed a break, I hadn’t needed to stop the process entirely.
Sometimes difficulty is really good for us: after all, my busy-ness had come from self-loving choices I’d already made, things I’d chosen to do.
They challenge and stretch and even frighten me, and while it may seem self-loving to choose something easier, it’s often not.
That’s why, once I’d rested sufficiently, the lack of pressure didn’t feel good anymore.
I was now avoiding learning to balance demands with self-care.
At the point when resting and nurturing myself had tipped into avoidance, it stopped feeling good.
Once I realized this, my self-loving choice was to return to being very busy and even stretched. And it felt good!
Who would’ve guessed?
It’s tricky, this self-love thing. It can be as frustrating as raising children. You ask a child what she wants and she tells you an apple. You give her an apple and she’s happy. The next day you give her an apple and she says you never listen to her—what she really wants is a banana.
It takes a certain emotional fitness to be able to ask, “What fruit do you feel like today?”
Our Inner Self is like a child in tune with our moods, body, and life circumstances.
Some days an apple is what we want; other days, not so much.
I’d forgotten to be flexible.
That’s why the Love question is not something you just ask once. We need to ask it moment by moment.
It’s a way of living.
So, if you loved yourself, what would you choose to do now?