Aren’t there times when you want nothing more than a pair of loving arms, wrapped around you?
And aren’t there times – whether you simply happen to be alone in a moment of need, or you’re living through a lengthy period of solitude or singledom – when such tender arms are nowhere to be found?
Fortunately, there is one embrace that is always available. It’s the loving contact of our own arms.
I was reminded of this instant and easy self-loving technique when I was browsing Caroline Latham’s useful little book on compassion this morning.
She offers this exercise you can use when you are caught up in negative thoughts:
Every time you find yourself wandering around muttering: ‘You stupid idiot, why oh why did I do that?’, stop and correct yourself.
Say instead: “I love and forgive myself.” Do this even if that kind of language feels alien and too sweet.
Go against that cynical you.
Give your arms a comforting pat.
I want to go further, and say, ‘Give yourself a great big hug!’ And not just when you’ve irritated or annoyed yourself, but whenever you feel hurt, or sad or in need of some unconditional love.
At a difficult time in my own life when it was hard to find solace and the pain of loss sometimes felt overwhelming, I got into the habit of giving myself a cuddle.
I’d cross my arms over my body, rub my upper arms with my hands comfortingly, lovingly stroke my shoulders and say out loud: “It’s alright darling, you’re doing so well, it’s alright.” It was such a heartwarming and helpful practice.
We are always available to comfort ourselves. That’s the great thing about self-love, it’s always on tap.
Next time you feel sad, disappointed in yourself, or mired in grief or some other misery, offer yourself some self-love in this way.
Try it. You’ll probably get an opportunity sooner than you think.
Make it a daily habit to love yourself, and then remember to extend some of that same love to other people too.