Learning to love ourselves through it all.

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. And we need to learn to love ourselves first. – John Lennon

In these challenging political times, I often find it difficult to stay in a place of love and not fall into fear; to find the balance between keeping a sense of unity, but remaining vigilant and resisting when it feels appropriate.

But today I don’t want to get political, instead, I want to focus on love and unity in difficult times.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross echoes Lennon when she explains that:

“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”

What I’ve also discovered is that in order to operate out of love that we must have self-love. We cannot pour from an empty cup! In order to come at life from a place a love, we must love ourselves first. In workshops I so often hear, from women in particular, that they find it very difficult to prioritize themselves, and find self-love not only difficult, but somehow not OK.

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
 — Buddha

So how can you start to prioritize yourself and love yourself? Here are a few suggestions from some seasoned pros out there:

1. Focus on your own needs. Practice saying ‘No’ to others and ‘Yes’ to yourself.

2. Give your body the nurturing, rest, and comfort it needs.

3. Accept yourself as you are, “warts and all.”

4. Prioritize time for yourself, time to do what you love, without judgment that it is a waste of time.

5. Set boundaries to protect the time you have prioritized for yourself.

7. Choose to spend time with people who put your up, not down.

6. Dream big! Dream without editing, without judgment, without feeling that you ‘don’t deserve it.’

I sincerely believe that we can only stay balanced in love and unity (and indeed practice resistance when we need to) if we learn to love ourselves first. So, as this Valentine’s Day approaches, instead of hoping that someone else will give you just what you want, go out and get yourself just the right flowers or special chocolates that make your heart sing!

Originally published at medium.com