by Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly returned to this bible passage (1 Corinthians 13:4) as it speaks to me. It was read at my wedding ceremony because it spoke to both my husband and me. In this month of Valentines’ Day, it is speaking to me once again—this time, however, not only about love shared with another human being but about love of myself.
Every morning for several years, I’ve read this passage as a part of my meditation quiet time with focus on learning how better to love myself. I am better at showering others with love and care than giving to myself. I am often not patient or kind but rude and self seeking in my attitudes towards me. I can be the most patient person with just about every other person on the planet, but not so with me.
My sister sent me the book, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron several years ago. I’ve read it a number of times, each time gleaning more and applying more to my life. Some chapters I’ve reread over and over. The chapter “Not Causing Harm” however isn’t one that I reread until more recently. Initially, I took the meaning to be about not causing harm in the world around me and believed that I understood it enough that I didn’t need to focus my attention there. But several months ago, I started the book over and have found myself stuck on that “Not Causing Harm” chapter, looking at it not as applying to the world outside of myself but rather inside of me—I cause harm to me all day long!
In a recent session, one of my hard working clients posed a question to me that she had gotten along the way from someone in her life: “How can I act self-loving?”
Wow—I like that question. In reflecting on the opposite behavior, I’ve realized how self-absorbed it is to not act in a self-loving way, too. All the focus in my head is on me when I behave that way—it is all about what I should or shouldn’t have done, said, thought, reacted…you get the picture. I am very “me” focused thinking (all negative, of course), and it zaps me of life when I go to that place!
So, here are my challenges to you this Valentine’s month:
- How can you act self-loving?
- How do you give yourself the gift of knowing you are worth a “Be Mine”?
- What random act of kindness will you give to yourself?
Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC is a Fully Licensed Master of Social Work with over 22 years of clinical social work practice in the Holland community. She has been at the Pine Rest Holland Clinic since 2003.