“If you don’t love yourself nobody will. Not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self.” –Wayne Dyer

When I was younger, at a subconscious level, I thought the more I matured the less mistakes I’d make, leading to some form of perfection. My life experience has taught me differently. The older I get, the less I know that I know! The less I have the answers and the more I have questions. I understand there is no perfection or arriving. Challenges will continue, mistakes will keep happening – not always the same ones – and growth and change bring new situations.

What my wisdom has taught me is I can accept my shortcomings, spend less time “beating myself up” for making them, and learn to forgive myself instead. I can be more loving towards myself, which in turn, allows me to be more loving towards others.

I grew up in cultural/religious environments where loving self was not seen as necessary— on the contrary— it was called selfishness! The prize goes to the one who would always think of others before self. These strong teachings of putting others before yourself and sacrificing led me to being open to abuse of all kinds, and taught me nothing about healthy boundaries. This led to self-loathing, shrinking my heart, whereas loving self expands the heart, creating capacity to love others more.

Unfortunately, I am only able to share this after learning from traumatic situations that forced me into change. I’m often brought back to ways I’m not loving myself. The beauty is now I understand the connection between self and others in a much healthier way. Caring, nurturing, and looking at myself with compassion and love (and with the generosity and forgiveness I give to others) is at the core of being able to give more of that to others!

I have learned loving from obligation doesn’t help myself or the other person. I have learned we don’t love so that someone else will give us love back (although, it’s wonderful when it happens), we love because loving is the gift itself! Love is evolutionary and generative. You may give your love to something or someone that doesn’t directly give it back, but love is not diminished. Love is. Love will remain. Love is what you are created from, and inherently worthy of. Love is available to you always, we often don’t recognize the myriads of forms it shows itself.

This worthwhile path of loving and forgiving myself is not once and done, but over and over again for the course of a lifetime. Each time I act from love, it will expand my capacity to love others even more. Each time you love and forgive yourself it’s a win-win you put out into the world. That’s nothing short of awesome!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.