The exchange took place just a few years ago, and in retrospect, it is one of the best gifts anyone has given me. He helped to give me the gift of myself. The more I embrace myself, the more I am able to offer love to the people around me. I am better equipped to be a friend, a teacher, and a family member. So this December, in the midst of my gift buying and finishing up of 2010 commitments and goals, I also plan to take fabulous care of myself. Because I love me.
In order to give to others you also need to give to yourself. In order to be a good friend, family member, or partner you have to be good to yourself first. You have to love yourself. In the yoga I practice we begin with the premise of self-embrace. This is not any sort of narcissism. Rather it is a reverence for nature, of which we are a part. It is an appreciation offered to the people who created, advised, guided, and supported us: family members, teachers, and friends.
A close friend who spoke English as a second language once said to me, “I am so conceited!” When I explained to him that conceited was probably not the word that he was searching for, he explained, “What I mean is that I love myself…I mean, I’m the only me there is. If I don’t love me, who will?” And then he said, “Don’t you love yourself?” I never had anyone ask me this before, so I briefly outlined a few of my faults and then a few strengths. He laughed at me and said, “No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, don’t you love you?” It took me a minute, but I finally said, “ …I guess so. I mean…yes!”