Do you remember the Golden Rule? Love your neighbor as you love yourself. But, most of us who suffer from depression do not love ourselves! We think we are unproductive, weird, unlovable, lazy, unwanted, or that we have something horribly wrong with us. We beat ourselves up constantly. What happens when we do that?
I believe that our Heavenly Father wants us to love ourselves. Jesus loves everyone and that means “unlovable” applies to nobody! He suffered and died to save all of us, not just the productive or the normal or the industrious. He came so that we (all) may have life and to live it more fully.
“So, what? I’m not hurting anyone except myself,” you may say. But, you are wrong. Humanity is so interconnected that your self-hatred may indeed hurt someone else. You may yell at or be mean to a child or your significant other; you may be rude to the cashier at the grocery store, or you may just ignore everyone around you. All of these actions can and will hurt someone else!
Now, I admit learning self-love is not easy. It’s probably the hardest things I’ve ever done, even with trusting in God and asking for forgiveness from Christ of my sins. But, I am beginning to and so can you. Instead of — or perhaps in addition to – abstaining from your favorite snack for Lent; pray for guidance and then add one or more of suggestions below. After the Lenten Season, continue this and add more to your journey:
- Bathe and get dressed regularly! I know it’s difficult; but you need to bathe, shave (if you’re a man), and get dressed to shoes. Men, please trim your beard and/or mustache if you don’t want to shave it off. After you bathe and shave or trim; dress in “street clothes” including shoes, and “fix your hair”. This advice comes from the FlyLady at flylady.net. If you can’t force yourself into the tub or shower first thing in the morning, don’t feel alone because I have the same problem. Today, I bathed at noon. On another day, I might not shower until 3 PM. But, if you bathe or shower four or more days per week, I promise you will feel better about yourself.
- Set up a Reward System for yourself! All animals, including humans react better to the “carrot” instead of the “stick”. Instead of punishing yourself for what you “didn’t do”, reward yourself for even the smallest accomplishment. Use rewards YOU will enjoy. If you love to read, give yourself 15 minutes of reading time as a reward. Go outside or walk a dog as a reward if you enjoy either. I love to put shiny stars on my calendar, planner and/or on a poster. You may use anything you like, but use it ONLY for a reward. If you reward yourself regularly, you will eventually like (or at least not mind) doing whatever it is that earns you a reward.
- Pray for yourself and your own soul! Catholics are the only Christians I ever heard suggest we pray for ourselves, but one of the Rosary prayers I watch on YouTube does just that. Pray for YOU first, then your family and friends, and then for people or souls you don’t know. After that, accept the all-encompassing love of the Trinity and be thankful for it.
- “Eat something good for you and take your medicine and vitamins.” That’s a direct quote from the FlyLady at flylady.net. Don’t dine on sodas, chips, candy, OR deep-fried foods. Severely limit that junk. Instead, cook and eat 1-3 eggs per day and eat fish, chicken, pork, and lean beef. Eat yogurt — provided you’re not lactose intolerant, of course — and/or fruit instead of candy or cookies. Use coconut oil or real butter (preferably from grass-fed cows) for cooking, NOT vegetable oils. Take some nuts, sunflower seeds, carrot sticks and/or other nutritious snacks to work and/or school.
- Exorcise your demons! Have you ever noticed how the words “exorcise” and “exercise” sound alike? I think there is a reason for that. Exercise will exorcise your demons and other “unclean spirits”. Now, I know “exercise” is a bad word to most of you. It was to me, too. But, I always feel better about myself (and usually the rest of the world) if I go walking or hiking or if I ride a bike. Try Dancing, Yoga, and/or Tai Chi instead of “boring exercise”. They all seem more like play than work. Start with as little as one minute per day, according to Robert Maurer, Ph. D. in his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. You can add time at very small increments after a week or month if desired. I’ll be the first to admit that creating this habit is extremely challenging, but you will be glad you did!
Now, please pick one or two things to do and practice that for at least a week before adding another.