Have you ever thought that the term “Self-love” sounds a little, well, “selfish”? We’ve all been taught that we should defer to others, share with others, and bestow acts of kindness upon others. And these are all worthy endeavors but it can make self-love come across as self-exalting and self-focused.
It can. But it’s not.
I came across this passage in a book recently and it made total sense in relation to the topic of self-care and self-love.
If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. A canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus without loss to itself [it shares] its superabundant water. (Bernard of Clairvaux)
Canals give out of desperation and run dry quickly. Their giving is focused on quantity rather than quality. They do many things partially well. They tend to live in a crazed frenzy as they try to be everything and do everything for everyone. They can be erratic and see life as either drought or flood.
The reservoir wisely gives out of the extra that it has and so is always full. When a reservoir gives it gives quality. Their surrounding relationships thrive as a result. They cultivate peace and abundance. They are obviously at home with themselves because they make you feel accepted and at home with yourself too.
Of course we hope to be the reservoir instead of the canal but that can be easier said then done, am I right?
Let’s explore some ways to cultivate that reservoir lifestyle, because it is a lifestyle.
We can become more like reservoirs by mindfully doing things that will nurture our heart, mind, and body. Aka self-care! *lightbulb moment*
Here are some ideas to get you started:
-Don’t overbook yourself.
-Schedule downtime in your calendar and follow through!
-Cultivate a rich inner life.
-Relax and release your need to be everything to everyone. That’s impossible anyway!
-Get exercise that you enjoy.
-Surround yourself with supportive people.
When you are tempted to blow off a commitment to yourself, remember that caring for yourself is a way to care for others. By caring for our body, heart and mind, we are practicing preventative care that spills over into all facets of our life spreading a ripple effect of transformation.
For example, when we schedule a night in to cook a healthful meal for ourselves it will strengthen the immune system and improve sleep quality, which promotes balance and intimacy in our relationships, which only improves our focus and drive at work. It is all connected!
Self care or self love (they are really one in the same) is one of the sweetest concepts you can implement in your life and if regularly practiced, will work wonders for your love life, family life, career, spirituality, creativity, and friendships!
So what do you think? In what ways have you been acting out of the canal lifestyle instead of the reservoir lifestyle? Vice versa? Which above suggestion would you like to try for yourself?