Do you notice how easy it is to dwell on criticism? Whether self-inflicted, or handed down from another (perhaps even well-meaning) individual, I for one, carry a list in my head of every shortcoming I’ve ever become aware of. My parenting mistakes. My appearance. The horrible job interview I bombed. My tendency to over-share…. The list could go on.
Interestingly though, I don’t dwell the same way on every compliment I’ve ever received.
It can be hard to accept kindness, and it can be hard to accept love.
In my recent effort to love myself more completely, I’ve started noticing how often I feel closed off to receiving this energy. I notice that I regularly shoulder discomfort, or sacrifice joy, in order to make life easier for myself or others. I notice how difficult it can be to open myself to receiving love.
The other night, my husband gave me the most amazing – LONG – massage! It had been a rough week in our household, and his sweet gesture felt almost “too good to be true” on my tired muscles. But after a couple minutes, strangely, I noticed guilt feelings creeping into my mind! I was thinking how he must be tired and exhausted too, and questioned why I was deserving of receiving his effort.
And then I reminded myself that he loves me. Because of his love, I am deserving. And because of my own love, I am deserving.
Especially as a parent, I think we learn to give our love without question, or expectation. Logically, I know that my children love me, but I don’t often really *feel* that love, or pay attention to their expression of it. For example, this morning my daughter gave me the 300th drawing of the week. At that moment, I was in the middle of making her breakfast and packing her lunch at the same time while baby Arlo used my pant leg to practice his standing skills. “Look mama! This is for you!” Violet proudly shouted at me. I took a quick glance, and shouted back, “Wow! It’s so lovely! Thanks!” Then, as I reflected there, I reminded myself that her drawings really are her gifts to me – the only things she has to give. Her drawings are her way of showing me that she loves me. So, I stopped what I was doing, took a moment to really appreciate her work, crouched down beside her and gave her a big hug. Her love feels wonderful.
In the midst of our rough week (Arlo was super sick), when I was feeling completely maxed out and overwhelmed, my husband reminded me of how much he (my baby) loves me. It caught me a bit off guard. My baby needs me. But does he LOVE me? “You should see how he looks at you when you walk into the room after being gone,” my husband told me. So today I’m really tuning in to his smiles. I’m appreciating his snuggles, and the way he reaches out for me. Like his sister’s artwork, these little gestures are the only gifts he has to give me. I’m opening myself to that love, and it feels really good.