Oct 19, 2013

One Small Token of Self-Love

“What would happen if you gave yourself a small token of self-love each day?”

A dear friend asked me this question during the course of a recent conversation in which I was discussing my need to step-up my self-care regime. I paused, not knowing how to respond because it sounded a teeny bit selfish, and entirely extravagant at first blush.

Then my friend expounded.

It didn’t require actually purchasing anything, in fact, it would be better, he suggested, if I did something that cost absolutely nothing. Like taking a long walk, or letting the dishes or laundry, or whatever other chore that was looming wait 15 minutes while I lit a candle and breathed in its fragrance. Perhaps I could pause for a moment to appreciate the beauty of a sunset or the colors in the turning autumn leaves. Small things all, but the idea was to pick one thing, each day, and “give” this thing as a token of love to myself.

Even as I started to warm to the idea, I doubted whether I could even think of that many different “gifts.” I, like many other women who are mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends, tend to spend a lot of time giving to others. How would it change my life, I wondered, if I started giving to myself?

“Can I repeat?” I asked half-jokingly. The question made my friend chuckle and I was assured that the point was not in the variety of the gifts, but in the consistency of the giving. Relieved from the pressure of thinking up 365 different tokens of self-love, I set about starting this practice.

I recorded the gifts in my calendar: “30 minutes of extra sleep” or “made dinner for myself and sat down to eat it” or “long hot bath.” It started being fun to see what I could think of next and I noticed myself actually looking forward to the next day’s “gift.”

It didn’t take long before I started to notice what I suspect my friend already knew to be true, that even small things, when done consistently and with intention, can collectively become something much bigger.

I started being more aware of what actually brought me joy. I found myself more grateful for the little things that made me smile. It became clear that my intention held the power to create my own happiness, regardless of my circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, I began to feel more loving towards myself—and that has been a gift that has not stopped giving.

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