ME/CFS and Self-Love

Optimising our health when we have this condition takes an awful lot of care and attention. We need to learn to assess our daily energy levels, keep within those daily limits, pace ourselves, eat healthily often avoiding certain foods, pay attention to our sleeping habits, include safe and effortless movement/exercise in our daily routine and then learn new ways of being happy and satisfied that don’t take up much energy. And we have to do all this with very limited energy.
In order to look after ourselves in this way we really have to care enough about ourselves. Self-love is incredibly important if we are going to have a chance to optimise our ability and live a happier, healthier life.
Self-love is often misunderstood as something selfish and antisocial but in fact the opposite is true. If we can cultivate unconditional caring and compassion for ourselves even with our awareness of our own faults and imperfections, then we can do so for all others too. If we can’t find a way of loving ourselves unconditionally it is unlikely that we will be able to find that kind of love for others either.  I choose to believe that we are each and every one of us, equally deserving of love, and that includes me. I am worthy of my own love just as others are worthy of it.
If we don’t love ourselves we can end up putting a much bigger burden on others. When we don’t love ourselves, we will only find ourselves worthy if others constantly prove it to us by showing us they care. So we will either have others running around after us trying to meet our incessant needs, or we will end up feeling unworthy. Unworthy feelings can lead to depression, making us even less productive, worsening our condition and increasing our need for help.

Self-love releases the pressure on others because it results in a willingness to take responsibility for our own happiness and health.  We will express our needs but not oblige people to fill them. We know we are worthy so will understand when people can’t do what we need in this moment. We can turn elsewhere without hurt, knowing that we can ask for help again when the other is less overloaded.
Self-love doesn’t come easy to many. Unless we were fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by clearly expressed unconditional love it is something we will have to cultivate. But we are all capable of feeling compassion. We just have to choose to believe that we deserve that compassion; choose to offer it to our self, and then observe what happens. When we test it out like this we will usually find only positive results for both ourselves and others.
In terms of our illness, when we cultivate self-love we look after ourselves better; we are less needy of others and better able to communicate our needs in a non-demanding way; our relationships with our carers improve and we are more willing to use our energy to invest in improving our health and happiness. It’s a win-win situation!

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