June 22, 2013

Why “Taking Good Care of Ourselves” Is Not Enough. ~ Suzanne Grenager

Photo: Raine Hilton

There is a magic bullet, and it’s called self-love.

Usually it is the sun that draws me outside. This morning it was the rain. It was the sweetest, most gentle downpour we’ve had all spring. I pulled a patio chair up close under the eaves and sat down to soak it in.

This spring has been rife with hard rain. Violent thunderstorms, destructive of the delicate blossoms going hog wild in the front garden, have often driven me deep inside our stone house till they blow over. Their ruthlessness is an all-too-apt metaphor for my own harsh treatment of myself—the pushing, the doubting and the unrest.

This rain is the one I’ve been waiting for.

Gentle as it falls is how I want to be with myself for the rest of my rapidly diminishing life. Why is it so frigging hard? I’m able to be kind to almost everyone else and I do kind things for myself. To others, I probably seem a paragon of self-compassion and self-care.

Relatively speaking, I am.

But relatively speaking is no longer good enough. If I want to be of utmost service to the world (and thank God I do!), it’s time to relax my tenacious grip on myself and my life and treat myself like the goddess I am, and that you, dear readers, also are. And I’ve got to do it from deep inside out, not just from outside in.

I must own and cherish my sacred human Self.

We are divine. We must start treating ourselves with the same impassioned love and respect we would lavish on a Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, should one appear in our midst. Why? Because until we do, we cannot lavish that kind of unconditional love on anybody else.

I lavished love on a guru or two in my day, and it worked! Being a devoted disciple awakened the love in me—not only for the guru—but for myself. One of those gurus of mine did unseemly things, we later learned. The other, from all I could tell, radiated pure love incarnate.

Turns out it didn’t much matter where we disciples directed our love, or how well or badly our gurus behaved. What mattered was the act of bowing down, surrendering our hard-wired heads to our tender hearts, opening the floodgates of love. (One guru said it would work with a rock.)

Whether gurus receive our love or not (and that’s up to them), we devotees become the first beneficiaries of our own awakening hearts. There is no question that, for me, the impassioned bowing, chanting and dancing we did with the gurus were the best of tonics for inducing profound love.

I am not suggesting we need to find a guru—or a religion, or even “God”—to worship if we are to fully appreciate ourselves.

What I am suggesting is that if we want to foment a self-love worthy of our divinity, we’ve got to do a lot more than what we usually think of as “taking good care of ourselves,” however beneficial that may be.

Of course it’s wonderful to give ourselves enough rest, eat right, meditate, practice yoga, exercise, and do whatever else we are moved to do to nurture ourselves from the outside in. But all that is mere trimming around the edges of a consistent and genuinely self-loving life.

For unless we tame our drunken monkey minds till they stop trying to whip us into shape, and until our hearts fly open so they reign supreme, the earth-shaking self-love we long for cannot be ours. Nor can we make the significant difference we are dying to make.

No. If we want to be the kind of lovers—the goddesses and gods—that effect real and lasting transformation in ourselves and in the world, then our love for ourselves, for our rawest humanity and our highest divinity, must be our most ardent desire and first order of business.

It’s a lot to ask of ourselves in a culture that sanctifies the unselfishness of a Mother Teresa, whose life provides a cautionary tale I hope to share here soon. In the meantime, and in the interest of transparency, I am not yet there, not quite ready, it seems, to love and respect myself entirely—and so what?

A profound self-love is where I am headed (or should I say hearted?), no doubt about it. And I have a burgeoning, very encouraging sense of what true love for our dear selves might look like.

I’d like to say more about that here, but I am very eager to hear what you make of my take that self-love is the closest thing we’ve got to a magic bullet.

Please scroll down and share your singular wisdom. It’s a service for the good of us all.

Thank you for being here!


Suzanne Selby Grenager: A sister seeker, awakener and scribe am I. Off to India before the Beatles, I followed a breadcrumb path from newspaper columnist through Kripalu Yoga teacher to body-mind therapist and transformational life coach. In 2012, I screwed up my seasoned courage, held my well-traveled feet to the fire and published Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, my achingly honest first book about what it takes to wake up, fall in love with ourselves and make the difference we’re born and dying to make. I hope you’ll visit me and my blog.


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Assistant Ed: Renée Picard/Ed: B. Bemel

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