Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2019

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12 wholelifetimes.com By Wendy Strgar FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF healthy living SEX TALK L ove is an inside job. Learning to love ourselves is where it all begins. Without this precious self-regard, we are constantly reliant on people and events outside of our control to fill us up and measure our worthiness. It is a losing game that frequently makes us turn away from the truckloads of love that are coming toward us. Looking from the outside, instead of feeling into how love lives in us, makes us believe that love should look or sound different than it does. We second guess, and doubt both the love and lovers around us — constantly wondering whether this love is a fit. No matter whether we perceive the love as too tight or too loose, it will bring to light our own shortcomings when we don't love our selves. And our digitally driven culture which constantly has us monitoring and comparing ourselves to everyone we know (and lots of people we don't) is making things worse. The attention that we pour into Facebook and other like apps doesn't grow our capacity for self-love, but the opposite — we end up feeling worse about our self and our life. And yet, the urge to compare ourselves is built into our genetic code and is foundational to our human negative bias, which once protected us as cavepeople. Knowing where we stood and whether we were accepted in our tribe, through continuous comparative vigilance, was tantamount to survival. But now, that once protective habit and the profound need to belong has become a societal ill and personal compulsion which does more damage than good for the essential work of defining meaning and purpose in our lives. When we constantly focus our attention outwards, more concerned about other people's activities, our sense of self and esteem withers. Comparisons might have some value if we find ourselves adrift with no direction, but once on a course, they become less motivating and more deflating. Learning how to turn off the messages that surround us and get quiet enough to hear the small voice inside that truly informs us about who we are is a foundational practice of learning to love oneself. Fundamentally, it is about believing that we deserve our own attention. Two practices that always keep me centered are also the basis of building any relationship — and certainly is the starting point in befriending and loving ourselves. 1) PRACTICE KINDNESS. Of all of the attributes that draw us to other people, the most important is kindness. And yet, many of us never learned how to treat ourselves with the same tenderness that we reserve even for strangers. Kindness is less of an attribute and more the action verb of love. The best way that I have found to activate it in myself is to give myself the benefit of the doubt. This is one of the greatest gifts we can learn in a relationship — that of unconditional love. This type of self-kindness makes you more generous to everyone else you know. Ultimately the truth that we are all doing the very best we can at any moment starts to feel true like gravity. Counting on myself to be my own friend in even the worst moments gives me room to accept love from others. 2) EMBRACE BOUNDARIES. Boundaries are how we love ourselves. It is impossible to respect your own limits when you don't know what you want. This inability to listen inside is at the heart of the consent issue that plagues the sex lives of so many people, young and old. If we can't know our own desires, we also don't know where to draw the line for what we don't want. Learning to embrace our boundaries is the practice of listening inside. It is there, waiting to be heard. Wendy Strgar, writer, teacher, and loveologist, is the founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, makers of Almost Naked 95%-organic lubricant. Listening Inside

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