By Nataly Kogan

You're a being, not a doing

I want to ask you a question: 

Do you love yourself?

8 years ago I would cringe at this question.

In fact, it took me 3 years of working with a teacher to learn to love myself.

A teacher for self-love? Yes, true story. Although she didn't say that's what she was (good thing, I would have fun away so fast!)

I’ll tell you more shortly, but here’s why I’m writing about self-love.

It’s Valentine’s Day the US tomorrow and while, to be honest, I find this holiday too commercial, I think it’s an awesome opportunity to reflect on your relationship with yourself…

… and to honor your being by practicing self-love, self-respect, and self-compassion.

That’s a lot of selves. And maybe your brain just went into the “all that self-love stuff is selfish and not for me…” spin.

If so, you’re not alone. 8 years ago, when I found myself at the pit of my burnout and overall life breakdown, self-love was a ridiculous idea I both didn’t understand and dismissed.

Love others? Of course, that’s what good people do. But love myself? Hard no, as my 19 year-old daughter would say.

So I definitely didn’t go looking for a teacher to help me learn to love myself.

But I did need help and through a friend and my investor, I was introduced to Janet.

Over the next few years of our weekly meetings, I slowly and reluctantly began to learn how to love myself as a human being vs. an accomplishment machine.

Until then, I had to earn my own love by doing, achieving, and accomplishing.

And oh boy, did I! My self-love reservoir was empty so I had to do a lot of doing and over-efforting to try and fill it.

But true self-love isn’t conditional. You don’t earn it, no matter how hard you try.

“You’re a being, not a doing,” Janet said to me one day.

You're a being, not a doing.....

I wasn’t ready to hear it then, but the phrase stayed with me and over the next few years, through lots of doubt and chipping away at the iceberg-sized beliefs that had been ingrained in me, I began to soften to it. Reluctantly, slowly, but I did.

But that was the key to unlocking self-love: Recognizing that I am a human being and that my being deserves my love, care and respect, regardless of how much doing I accomplish.

You are a human being.

Your being deserves your love, care and respect, regardless of how much you accomplish.

And the whole self-love is selfish thing?

Probably the biggest misunderstanding in our culture. OK, we have many more, but that’s one for sure.

When you love yourself, you unlock your full capacity to give love.

Not from a place of should. Or feeling like a martyr. But from the most abundant deep unlimited reservoir.

The most giant benefit of my learning to love myself has been seeing just how much more love I can give to others… and never feeling like I need to get something in return.

There are also mountains of research that show that self-love and it’s integral component, self-compassion, help you to be more resilient, work through setbacks, and be more motivated to do hard stuff.

Over the past 8 years of learning to love myself, I’ve also built a successful career as an author, speaker, leadership mentor and coach. And I did this after finding myself at the lowest point in my life.

It’s not a coincidence.

(In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you lead people at work, you should care about whether they love themselves. Self-love makes us better at everything we do and it allows us to tap into our full capacity as human beings.)

A few years ago, I was one of the featured speakers at a large online event about self-compassion. I remember seeing my photo on the screen alongside so many distinguished authors and thought leaders and for a moment, not believing that I belonged there.

But I did and I do. And self-love got me there.

So here’s my invitation to you:

Dare to take an action that affirms your self-love to yourself.

Want a suggestion? I’ve got one:

Do something that feels really good.

Something that fuels your being and your deepest joy.

One way we withhold love from ourselves is holding back what feels good. Or never even asking the question of what would feel really good.

Crack through that this week. Dare to do something that feels really good and see it as an act of honoring your being.

Next up: What would you say to the 5-year-old version of you?

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