growing up is optional
how to be happy when your heart is breaking

greet yourself with love

 


I am in love with The Time Traveler's Wife. It is, by far, one of the best novels I've read in a long time. For whatever reason, I'd been hesitant to pick up a copy, but when I saw the preview for the upcoming movie starring one of my favorite actors, Rachel McAdams, I knew I had to read the book. And I'm so glad that I made that decision. I picked up a copy of the book at Target last week and, as I was on my way back to the office, sitting at a red light, I cracked open the book for a quick skim. The first thing I came across -- on the very first page -- was this:

 

"Love After Love"
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 your self.
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.

 

When I read this, I knew I would love the book. When the light finally turned green, I had a hard time putting the book down. As I pulled back into the parking lot at work, I sighed, wishing I could grab the book and go sit under a tree and read the whole thing. I have so many wonderful things to say about the book itself, but for this post I'm going to focus on the poem above. When I read the poem, I think about self love and what it means to really sit with yourself, be in love with yourself, after the love of another is gone. The poem makes me think about reflections, what we're seeing when we look in the mirror and how much of that is tied to what we expect others to see in us. When you look in the mirror, do you smile at yourself? Are you happy to see yourself? Are you as happy to see yourself as you would be see another? Or as another would be to see you?

Our relationships with ourselves are the longest, most important relationships we will have, but much do we really focus on that person in the mirror? I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time focusing on other people, especially when it comes to the idea of love. I spend time analyzing and thinking and over-thinking situations, instead of really just sitting down with myself and realizing that the love I have for myself should be my focus. I should, as the poem suggests, greet myself with elation, with kindness, with love. How many of us really do that? How many of us really greet and treat ourselves with love? While reading this poem leaves me with a sad taste in my mouth, the thought of a love lost, it also reminds me that I have a life of my own, a life that is completely removed from any love I've ever had. My life is mine to feast on, to enjoy, to love, and it is still a complete life without the love letters, the photographs, the others.

Of course, the love I've experienced from others has a great impact on my life and I would most likely not be the person I am today without the love I've experienced. However, the poem is a great reminder to me that I can sit down and enjoy my life all by myself. I believe that many of us ignore ourselves, put ourselves second to others. We look in the mirror and see not what we see, but what others see. We think in terms of others (and how can we not?...we are social creatures after all), and, in doing so, often neglect ourselves. What if we were to put as much dedication and heartfelt love into ourselves as we do to others? What would life be like then? Loving ourselves fully doesn't mean neglecting to love others or acting selfishly. It means sharing the love you give to others with yourself.

What I realized when I read this poem is that you don't have to wait until love has ended to love yourself. If you're in a relationship or a marriage, love yourself now. If you're single, love yourself now. Love, I believe, is limitless. It's not as if you have a ration of love and you have to dole it out carefully. You can love yourself as much as you want while still having plenty of love to go around. You can wake up every day and love yourself as much as you possibly can and still love all of the people around you. That's the amazing thing about love! It's not something that comes in limited quantities. There is plenty of love in you to share both with yourself and others.

There have been times when I've looked at myself in the mirror and wondered, "Who are you?" There have been times when I looked at myself and saw a stranger. I didn't know myself because I didn't love myself. While I've felt like I've known others like the back of my hand, I can't say that I've always felt that way about myself. It's not easy sometimes to know and love who you are. It's a lot easier to accept the bad qualities of others than it is to accept those of yourself, which is maybe one of the reasons it's so hard for us to love ourselves consistently. Now that I'm getting to know myself better, I'm learning to love who I am -- the good and the bad -- more and more. I cannot say that I'm always smiling at myself in the mirror, so overjoyed to see myself, but I'm making progress.

More and more I'm happier with the person I am. More and more I'm loving myself, which, actually, makes it a lot easier to love others. The more comfortable I am with myself, the more comfortable I am with other people. The more I accept myself, the more I can accept others. See how it works? It sounds terribly cliche, but it's true. The way I feel about myself is often reflected out to the world and the happier I am with who I am, the happier I appear to the world. I used to put up a wall (and, in many ways, I still do -- but I'm working on it!), but I try to be more open, I try to let people see me. In order for others to see me, when I look into the mirror, I have to see me. I cannot look at my reflection wondering, "What is it that others see?" Instead, I must ask myself, "What do I see?" When I really look at myself, really truly look, I'm often surprised by how much respect and love I have for myself. I'm taken aback by how much I do love myself, deep down, even though I don't always treat myself the way that I should.

I'm probably not the best one to be giving this advice, but I think we should all do what we can to take down the walls between ourselves and our reflections. We should look at ourselves in the mirror and see what's there -- not what we think should be there, not what we think others see there. We should love ourselves. We should, at all times, greet ourselves with love. Don't hide behind a mirror, behind what you think you should be. Instead, love yourself. Next time you look in the mirror, greet yourself as you would a loved one. Next time you catch a glimpse of yourself, dispel those negative thoughts that come creeping in by greeting yourself with love.

For more on loving yourself, you might want to check out some of these posts:

The ABC's of Loving Yourself
The (Self) Love Song
How To Love Your Life's Path
Love, Love, Love Who You Are Now

Comments

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(Missed you! We've been moving the office, so the internet has been a stranger the past week or so...)

Okay, once again, strange. I've just picked this book up for the first time too. The poem gave me goosebumps, and for strikingly similar reasons as yours.

Those moments you talk about - looking at yourself in the mirror and not knowing a thing about that person staring back at you - I've been through that more times more than I care to remember. It's a hollow feeling. I, too , have learned to become more connected with myself, which is on the path to actually loving myself.

Slow and steady.

Except when reading "The Time Traveler's Wife".

Veronica
www.drrussbuss.com

This has been on my mind a lot lately! I recently broke up with my boyfriend, and though it wasn't a lengthy relationship, I felt it was 'serious.' As it turns out, my emotions were being played. I started to feel like maybe I was worthless, but after a lot of introspection, some reading, and a little EFT, I feel so much better! And this article just made my day because it is exactly what I've been thinking! Thank you for the post, Dani!

Veronica - How funny that you just picked up the book too! It's so wonderful, isn't it? I wasn't thinking I'd like that much (I'm not a huge fan of sappy love stories) but the writing is really wonderful and I'm totally sucked into the characters. Looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself is definitely a hollow feeling and the more we are able to connect with ourselves, the more distance that feeling becomes. In its place, love finds a home. Thanks for your comment!

I bought The Time Traveler's Wife when it first came out, and it instantly became one of my favorite books of all time. It's just...perfect. I loved it, and still love it. I can't wait for the movie, either, although I'm sure they'll screw it up, and I'm a little anxious about going to see a "chick flick" without a chick to accompany me, but I'm still looking forward to it.

As to the greater point of your post, learning to love yourself...this is something I struggle with constantly. Getting a little better everyday, but still have a long way to go. As always, thanks for showing the way :)

Ia - I'm so glad that this post resonated with you today. Even if a relationship isn't long, it can be hard to get over it sometimes. Realizing that we can love ourselves just as much as we can love someone else is one of the most amazing lessons I've learned recently. It makes me very happy to know that this article made your day!

Jay - It's such a great book, isn't it?! I'm only about half way through it but I love it. The movies are never as good as the books, but Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana will probably make up for whatever changes they make! I also have a long way to go when it comes to really loving myself, but I'm working on it and, like you, I think I'm getting better at it every single day!

Dani - I read the Time Traveler's Wife a few years ago. Probably the best "I need a box of tissues" books I've read in a very long time. I devoured it in a weekend.

In 2000, I took a stress management class as part of certification program I was in. I don't remember much but I do remember something the instructor said "We make time for what we value." After life as I knew it ended for me in 2003, I realized that I wasn't on my own priority list...I wasn't making time for me. I wasn't loving and caring towards myself - my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. I didn't value myself enough and I had to learn the hard way that I had to put my oxygen mask on first before I could be of use to anyone else.

I used to look in the mirror and not know who I was. Today I look in the mirror and smile. I still got a ways to go, but I'm more than comfortable in my own skin. I like who I am and the me I'm becoming.

xxoo
Peggy

Peggy - Thanks for your comment! I think most people don't make enough time for themselves, they don't spend enough time loving themselves and getting to know themselves but, as I'm sure you've learned, the more time you spend getting to know the person in the mirror, the more you'll be able to look at yourself and smile. It's not always easy, but it's always important to spend time on yourself and it sounds like you've done that more recently which is great!

I absolutely LOVE your blog! I just recently discovered it and have been so inspired. Thank you devoting your time to positivity. :-)

I've had to learn to love myself and focus on myself. It is still difficult at times, especially since I've interpreted so much through the lens of rejection. Thanks for a great post. So true what you have written.

Hi Dani .. I think you have amazing perception for one so young .. so please take your perceptiveness and grow and grow .. lead us with your wisdom forward .. you do seem to connect with your subject and let us have the best parts .. so become a wise old woman .. keeping us in your thoughts ..

Many, many thanks ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Dani, I have not read this book, but you have moved my heart in the sweetest way. So, I want to invite you to submit this post to be read on my podcast show I Choose Bliss. The topic will be Self Love and your piece is perfect and needs to be heard. Please say Yes. :)

Tabitha
I Choose Bliss
ichoosebliss@gmail.com

Lauren - Thank you! I'm so glad that you found Positively Present and that you enjoy it. I'm not sure if you read the About page yet, but I used to be a very negative, sad person and a few months ago I decided to make a change. The blog as helped me so much and it's so great to get feedback from readers who appreciate what I'm doing. :)

Syd - It's definitely difficult to focus on ourselves a lot of the time, but the end results are so worth it. It can be a very painful process but, in the end, we come out stronger and better for it.

Hilary - You're welcome! I've been told before that I have an old soul. I'm still learning more and more every day, but I do know that learning to love myself is one of the most important things I can do. Not only will it make my relationship with myself better, but it will also make my relationships with others better too!

Tabitha - You should check out the book. It's a great one! I'd love to submit this to be read on your show. It's unlikely that I'd be able to read it, but feel free to read it on the podcast. Thanks for including it! :)

As you said in your post, Dani, you must love yourself before you love another. For if you can't find anything worth loving in yourself, what guarantees someone will love you unconditionally (besides a relative)? I've never read the Time Traveler's Wife, but I might have to add it to my summer reading list.

Glad you love yourself, Dani!

Dani -- I loved this line from the poem:"Sit. Feast on your life." That phrase has such wonderful sensual connotations. I loved the entire poem. It's worth reading again and again. I'll have to check out the book.

This post reminded me of something I used to do. I would put a sticky note on my mirror with "I like myself just the way I am!" While a slight deviation from the Bridget Jones saying, it became a morning ritual. I'd get up, look in the mirror and say the phrase aloud. There were many times I couldn't say it without laughing, but I would say it!

As usual, a great post, Dani:~)

I am on my way to the bookstore! Thank-you for this lovely review! I am inspired.

Can you imagine what would happen if we said to other people what we tell ourselves everyday? I don't think we realize how negative we are about ourselves.

As a result of this article, I think I'm going to start waking up with some major divaliciousness...but, you know, totally in a good way! (Divas are fabulous and never talk themselves down!)

I also recently discovered your blog, and I love your posts. Your messages are so positive and uplifting. Keep it going! I wish that you were on facebook. There are so many people that could benefit from reading your posts.

John - Yes, you definitely have to love yourself first. Unfortunately that's usually the hardest thing to do! I don't think I'm quite there with loving myself, but I'm on the right path. :)

Sara - Isn't the poem great? I was completely sucked into the book when I read the poem on the first page. That's a great idea about putting a note on the mirror. I'm going to do that. I love that idea!

Mark - Awesome! It's a great book. Very interesting look at love and time travel. I hope you enjoy it!

Hayden - Yes, I've thought about that before. I would certainly never look at someone else and say some of the negative things I think when I look in the mirror, and I know I'm not alone in that. I think waking up in diva mode is a great idea. Celebrate your fabulousness, girl! :)

Rashida - I'm so glad you found Positively Present! :) It's always great to have new readers. I actually am on Facebook. Check out "Positively Present" on there! :)

Such great info in this post. If we can't love ourselves, how can we really FEEL that love from others. In fact, I've noticed that in relationships, when one doesn't love herself/himself, it takes THAT much more love from the other mate to fill that "void" and it can be exhausting. I definitely think this is one area many people need to work on. Thanks Dani!

Hi Dani - "Greet yourself with love" - that's a great way of saying to remember to love yourself. Rightfully so, we often think of extending love to others, but we often forget to include ourselves in there! This post is a great reminder to do what we always should do. :)

Dani, GREAT POST. Glad I found it and you as well. I lived under my own dark cloud for years and then figured things out. The basic underpinning of happiness is loving yourself, respecting yourself, and fully understanding how awesome you are right now! Self acceptance is something we have as children and then the real world causes us to doubt our own greatness. We second guess. We begin to doubt.

I applaud your efforts to spread this message. This message is THE KEY in building a better world. Better people will build a better world, and helping others to rediscover their greatness is how we build better people, who become better citizens, better parents, better everything!

Thanks for sharing your gift with the world!!!!

Dani, I *so* needed this today! I actually am practicing as we speak - and ate 3 chocolate chip cookies. I know that wasn't necessarily in the instructions, but I love them, therefore, I think it counts! Always love your insights and guidance.

Dayne - I agree. If we don't love ourselves, it's pretty hard to be in productive and healthy relationships with other people, which is why I'm really try to work on this right now. Lpving myself is one of my top priorities!

Amanda - Yes, we often forget to extend the love we have to ourselves, which is pretty unfortunate. I'm under the impression that I'm not alone in doing this. I think a lot of people could benefit from loving themselves more!

Paul - Thank you! It's definitely taken me in a long time to get to where I am now and I'm still a work in progress. What I know for sure is that loving myself is the best way for me to create a happy life for myself and the people around me. You're so right about how important self acceptance is and what a big impact it can make on the world.

Laura - Eating cookies definitely counts. I love cookies! :) I'm glad you liked the post!

I just wrote a post about this, about how I look at myself now and see someone I would be friends with. I really like myself finally, bad qualities and all. It helps I find, if you are being hard on yourself, to imagine yourself as the child you once were. Would you say such harsh things to a kid? Treat yourself as you would treat your inner child and I guarantee you will start to love yourself in no time!

Hi Dani
Great message on this post. I love the picture as well.
We must love ourselves first, before we can truly love anyone else. That is a lesson I learn from the love of my life, my husband. When I was young and a mess, I was codependent. I would say things like, "I love you more than myself." My husband Craig was the frist one who told me that "If you don't love yourself first, you can love anyone else. Cause you don't know what love is." A priceless lesson I will never forget.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Beautiful write up. I like to think of it as, wherever you go, there you are, so you might as well be your own best friend.

I think the key is always accepting your faults and making the most of what you've got. I think making the most of what you've got can be a powerful purpose, and an inspiration. I think that's why we always like underdog stories.

The Time Traveler's Wife sounds interesting. I think I saw the movie advertised recently, and it looked intriguing.


Good afternoon. Though it is mid day today, I really feel lucky to find your blog and till now I have read this post only but this still has made my day.

What a great post and great idea. I am quite weak in literature so I couldn't get much in the poem but your description made everything very clear! It is very important to love self first. There are some very inspiring lines you have written like, I didn't know myself because I didn't love myself, More and more I'm loving myself, which, actually, makes it a lot easier to love others. The more comfortable I am with myself, the more comfortable I am with other people. The more I accept myself, the more I can accept others etc. among many others. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day!

Hiya Dani! :)

Nice post! Sometimes i wonder if liking seeing yourself in the mirror is being vain?

Truth is, you can't really change your physical appearance so you have to learn to love yourself for who you are and what you look like. For some people that is harder than others I guess.

"Give me the courage to change what I cannot accept and the serenity to accept what I cannot change"

I really like that and try to use it as a motto to live by:)

Have a great day
Until we meet again!
Diggy
Upgradereality.com

Oh it's so much fun reading all these posts lately! I love LOVE! That poem you included was beautiful and if I'd been reading the same book and saw those words I probably would have started crying. Stuff that really hits me in the heart chakra usually makes me cry. (In a good way!)

I loved what you wrote here: "That's the amazing thing about love! It's not something that comes in limited quantities."
I've found that in addition to what you wrote, the more I love, the more love loves me! It's exponential, and absolutely wow's me in its abilities and power.

Thanks for sharing this, Dani, and spreading more love everywhere!

Shannanigans - That sounds like a great post! I'll have to hop over to your site and check it out. And you bring up a great point about thinking of yourself as your child self. If I think about it in that way I'll probably never say another cruel thing to myself again!

Giovanna - Your husband is a wise man. He's so right that we have to love ourselves first before we can successfully love others. I used to put my love for others before my love for myself and that NEVER went well. I'm glad I'm on the road to loving myself now.

J.D. - So well said! In reality, you're the only person you definitely have with you at all times so you might as well love that person! I love what you wrote: "...the key is always accepting your faults and making the most of what you've got." That is so absolutely true!

LBJirel - I'm so happy the post made your day and that I made the poem a bit easier to relate to by writing about it. Loving yourself is one of the most important things we can do and it's such a great way to spread positivity.

Diggy - I've wondered that myself, but I think that there is a line between loving yourself and being vain. I try my best to love not only how I look but how I act and think and feel as well. None of that is easy because, like most people, I'm my worst critic, but I firmly believe that loving the person you see in the mirror is not a vain act. That's a great motto to live by! :)

Megan - It put a BIG smile on my face to read your comment. I'm so happy to hear that you've been enjoying my posts. As for the poem, I nearly did want to cry, it was so beautiful! You're so right about love -- the more I love myself and others, the more love surrounds me. It's amazing really! Love is limitless. :)

GREAT post! There is nothing "wrong" with loving ourselves - contrary to the old opinions about self-love being ego-centered and selfish. Good Lord! If we don't love ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to??? WONDERFUL writing - and thanks so much for that book recommendation. I was planning on seeing the movie but books are always better than the movie so I'll try and read it first.

Hugs to you from me!
suZen

Hi Dani,
A lovely post with a lovely picture :)
Completely agree with your ideas.We must love ourselves first.Then only we understand about our true selves, our passions, skills and about the faults as well. The more you become aware of your true self more you'll find easy to be happy and live happily.

Suzen - There's definitely nothing wrong with loving ourselves. It's one of the best things we can do! You should definitely check out the book if you have a chance. It's great and, as you said, it'll probably be better than the movie.

Vikum - Thank you! :) You are so right that "the more you become aware of your true self more you'll find easy to be happy and live happily." I couldn't have said it any better myself!

Hi Dani,
Great post. Loving ourselves is a great start. Perhaps loving ourselves is the same as fully accepting who we have become and are. True change, ironically, happens only after full acceptance.

k

Kaushik - You bring up an excellent point. If we want to change, we must first accept who we are now, we must LOVE who we are now. Loving ourselves doesn't mean we think we're perfect. It just means we accept who we are and we are ready to treat ourselves with kindness.

The only way to enjoy life is to love or life yourself.
If there are any people on this comment list that are in need of self love. Then i suggest you repeat this affirmation in your mind all day with other happy thoughts! Say it out loud to yourself first thing in the morning when you wake up " first 30 mins" and last thing you hear before you go to bed " last 30 mins".

Then watch the transformation. Do this for at least 10 - 20 days!

" I love myself"

Jonathan - That's great idea! I love the idea of saying that to yourself at the beginning and the end of the day. It's a fantastic way to get off to a good start and end on a good note.

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