You Can't Give What You Don't Have

"I do not trust people who don't love themselves and yet tell me, 'I love you.' ” ― Maya Angelou

Giving love begins with loving yourself. But how do you love yourself? In order to love yourself you first have to come to the realization that you are an individual entity worthy of love. You must recognize that beyond the confines of your various relationships is a you who is purposeful in the world. You must be unyielding on your life's path. There must be love for you from you.

*You are a separate entity worthy of love

Firstly, you must recognize that there is a difference between you and others that does not need to be measured and you are worthy of love. You are different from your siblings, neighbors and life partner. Your difference is perfectly purposeful and divine. When you are in disagreement with someone, it does not mean that something is wrong with you- it simply means that you have an idea that is different from the person with whom you are conversing. Every person born has a divine purpose on this earth that is spiritually inherited. Clear your mind of all the other voices telling you what to do or how to be you and listen to the voice of your spirit. You know that voice that you refer to when you say, "something told me, I should have..." that's the one, listen to her. She is your spiritual voice and knows, above all others, what is best for you. I know a woman who is a lawyer because her mother wanted her to be a lawyer. She is stellar in her career, but she often wonders if her life would be more personally fulfilling if she considered her inner voice. I know a man who elected not to be a surgeon or even attend any of the medicinal schools he was accepted to because he realized, in loving himself, that he was listening to his mother's voice and not his. He is happy not being a surgeon. How can anyone truly tell you about yourself? I  tell my children, nieces, nephew, students (anyone willing to listen to me) "What feels right? What does your heart tell you?" these are not easy questions to answer, but the answer to these questions are paramount in the pursuit of self-love. What feels right? I have asked this question hundreds of time; The answer to this question may not be an articulate answer but even asking the question affirms that the inner voice is important. What does your heart tell you? This question gives permission to break away from what is expected or logical. Sometimes logical and expected occurrences are not in sync with your heart and you'll have to be brave enough to follow your heart. Your marriage, motherhood, career, your relationship with your siblings and community is only part of your story. When all of the various elements are taken away what you are left with is you and I submit to you that when you are actively seeking your divine purpose by listening to your inner voice, then you are recognizing yourself as an entity worthy of love.

*Purpose in the world 

Now, finding purpose is more possible when you have successfully separated your identity from the voices of everyone else. With your own voice steering your path, you can hear those voices as they are intended- as mentors and guides. Mentors and guides assist you in realizing your vision, they lift you up and celebrate your self- love. They give you the gift of sharing their experiences for you to consider while steering your own path. Mentors and guides can be in your life for a few minutes or a lifetime. They can be someone you seek out formally or someone you meet in the produce aisle. No matter how a mentor or guide comes to your life she should be someone who respects you as captain of your own ship. Be purposeful about your purpose. Some people wake up one day after a long sleep and know their life's purpose. Some people know from the moment of their first breath the path they intend to take. The rest of us have to search our inner beings and make choices that put us purposely where we need to be in order to walk the path divinely placed before us. You will know when you have found your purpose because it will feel right. You will know in your heart. I have found that when someone has discovered their purpose and is on their path they are truly happy. In my work with mentor/ mentee pairings I have been able to repeatedly witness the discovery of self-love. Happiness is the predecessor to self-love. When you are happy, the feeling and realization of love comes easily. The more love you have for yourself the more available you are to share love with others.

*Unyielding on your life's path.

 When you have discovered your purpose and you are a good listener to your inner voice, keep walking. There will be obstacles on your path that may show up in the form of discouragement from loved ones, or someone else's path may cross your path for a while causing you to be distracted and lose your footing. There will be times when you doubt yourself. When this happens, it will, stay focused. Employ courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit and keep walking. You need courtesy to interact with your mentors, guides and loved ones. You want to treat all people with courtesy while you are steadfast on your path because you need these people and their gifts. You need integrity to constantly give yourself an honest check in. Ask yourself, "Am I loving myself? Am I on my path?" You need perseverance for the times when it seems like everything is going wrong (it's never going wrong, everything happens for a reason even when you don't agree with what’s going on or the reason). You need self- control for the times when you just want to take a break from your path. Self- control will help you to take healthy pauses that don't steer you totally off your path. Your spirit has to be indomitable. Having an indomitable spirit means that when adversity presents itself your self- love is not shaken. Do not yield to anyone's idea of what makes you YOUR best self. When you are focused you can more easily make self- loving decisions that propel you toward your goal. Pursuing your life's path is a series of self-loving acts. Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking.

*Love for you from you 

Love for you from you -not to be confused with vanity or conceit- is a way to create abundance in love. Your love for yourself will look different from myself -love. I like to get a mani pedi and have lunch alone. I enjoy getting lost in a book. I love my hair stylist and I really enjoy taking time to garden. I also LOVE to talk with my friends. Do whatever your pro-health self-love calls you to do. When you are constantly renewing your love supply and overflowing with self-love then you can love others.