By Kimberly Hudson-Grey
Your neighbor – the person that lives close to you or your fellow man, do you love them? That’s a hard question to answer. Isn’t that what we’re instructed to do? We hear it in church. It goes in one ear and out the other. In practicality, it’s hard to carry out, and it’s a hard concept to understand. But, let us forget about your neighbor for a minute.
In the Bible, the Gospel of Mark 12:31 says that second greatest commandment is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Let’s examine that carefully because somewhere and somehow the message we’re conditioned to receive is that everyone else is more important than we are to ourselves. The ‘as yourself’ part of that scripture is rarely addressed as if there’s a hidden shame in loving yourself. Let’s be clear; you can’t adequately love your neighbor if you don’t have love within. You must start with self. Not having a love for yourself can manifest into a variety of issues ranging from low self-esteem up to pure hatred towards others and anything in-between. There’s a saying that ‘charity begins at home.’’ I submit to you that ‘home’ is YOU first. I’m not suggesting you become obnoxious and self-centered, in being so, no doubt your neighbor will have nothing to do with you and rightly so. But, what I am suggesting is that you should do what’s needed to consider your well-being. Here four things to contemplate when deciding to have love within:
Spiritual health– Whether prayer, meditation yoga or long walks. Find a method or multiple methods that will motivate you to know your inner self. Take into account that being in solitude, away from distractions may be the best way to get in touch with your spirit. Listen and feel for what enlightens you and what sparks your inner peace. Your morals and belief system will come into play when you attempt to identify your core existence.
Mental health-Your inner peace. Take deep breaths and don’t allow excessive stress bring you to the point of mental exhaustion. Life does come with some stressful circumstances, but when there are ideal ways to eliminate stress, by all means, do so. If you find yourself overworked, you can delegate projects or tasks. You can’t be a people pleaser all of the time so saying no on occasion is advised. No is not a dirty word; it’s liberating. Some people will not like it, but we’re talking about your well-being currently.
Physical health– What can I say here? Get up, get moving and start exercising! Just do it! Along with exercising, begin to eat healthier. Just the feeling of accomplishing a short workout will make you appreciate yourself. And, it’s ok.
Emotional health– You must know how to manage your emotions, or your emotions will control you. Your emotions should not dictate your decisions and behavior. Feelings change continuously and when your emotions guide you, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Once a decision is made in the height of anger, fear, sadness or self-righteousness, that decision cannot be reversed. Don’t find yourself having to do damage control after the fact. When possible, remove yourself from situations that drain you emotionally and avoid being overly sensitive to things you can’t control.
Your spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health all tie into each other. Considering your well-being first can aid you in gaining the strength and resources to be of service to others.