What Would Love Do? This is an interesting question. Sometimes the answer is clear and easy, other times the question itself can seem overwhelming because there can seem to be two opposing answers.
For example: A friend or family member asks for your help, and you help them. This seems like a clear example of what love would do. On closer look it may or may not be a loving choice for you or your friend. Let’s take a closer look.
Self-Love Example #1: Your friend or family member asks for your help. You are home today, and have plans you’ve been looking forward to accomplishing. This could be doing your taxes or writing an article that has an imminent deadline. You may have decided to finish a project that has been waiting for your first free-day. Or you may have planned to rest today because you’ve just finished your late night week of studying for finals, or perhaps this was the day you were going to finally go to that Zumba class.
All of these possible plans that you may have decided to do this day all sound like Self-Love Diet actions. Let’s see how your friend or family members’ request fits in.
There are 7 paths to the Self-Love Diet. The relationship path is one of them. Relationships are a vital means to the end of Self-Love. This path includes our relationship with ourselves and others. In the above example let’s say that you decide to follow through with your plans for yourself and tell your friend or family member that you cannot help them out today. How did you come to this choice?
One of the gifts of the Emotions and Mind paths in the Self-Love Diet is the ability to be more aware of your state of being. You will be better able to notice those times when you are drained, and need rest, or are feeling resentful, hurt or angry because this person does not seem to appreciate what you do. Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions and energy. On those days when you are exhausted or aware of feelings of resentment, the most loving thing to do may be to say “No” to your friend or family member. By caring for yourself first in some cases, you will not invite resentment, hurt or anger into yourself and your relationships.
In this Self-Love Diet example, when you say “No” to your friend or family member it may be the most loving thing for both of you. It may be loving to you because you are putting yourself higher on your priority list, and it may be loving to your friend or family member (even though I can bet they won’t like it) because they will learn that you have boundaries, and they will notice you are respecting yourself, and therefore can help them learn to respect you more.
The spiritual path of the Self-Love Diet can also be of help in this decision. Although the spiritual path is not dependent on following a specific religion, spiritual teachers from different religions can help you gain more clarity in this process of deciding what love would do. Jesus talks about noticing the kind of fruit the tree bears. This metaphor helps you pay attention to your thoughts and emotions when you are making decisions. When you notice the “fruits of your actions” are feelings of resentment, hurt or anger, these emotions can help you discern what choice to make.
Self-Love Example #2: Your friend or family member asks for your help. You are home today, and have all of the above plans you’ve been looking forward to accomplishing in Self-Love Example #1. This time you decide to help your friend or family member. You decide to put your plans on hold, and plan to postpone completing them until that evening, or the next day. You notice a sense of well-being in helping out. Your friend is appreciative of your help, and thanks you, and you feel good that you choose to support this person today.
This altruistic choice not only helps others, but actually stimulates the primitive part of your brain that usually light up in response to food or sex. According to the Washington Post, Jore Moll and Joradan Grafmanir are scientists who discovered this”altruistic brain activation.” They asked volunteers to imagine two different scenes. In one scene they kept a large amount of cash for themselves, in the second scene, they imagined giving it away. The scene where they donated the money activated the primitive part of the brain which usually lights up in response to food or sex. Our brains are actually created to help us feel good by helping others. Helping others is a Self-Love Diet action; we can actually increase our sense of well being by helping others.
The the Self-Love Diet practice is in line with the Buddist Metta Bhavana practice, or the Loving Kindness meditation. Notice the sequence of this meditation. Meditate on bringing loving kindness to:
- A good friend
- A neutral person- someone you don’t have any strong feelings for
- A difficult person someone you have conflicts with or feelings of ill will towards
- All sentient beings
By having a daily practice of bringing love to yourself first, you will be more able to give from abundance when your friend or family member ask for help. Giving from a loving heart feels good for both of you.
How could these two different choices both be Self-Love Diet actions? How do you know when to say “yes” or when to say “no” to others?
- Ask the question; “What would love do?”
- Notice your emotions, thoughts and energy as you imagine your responses.
- Remember that your relationship with yourself is as valuable as your relationship with others
- Develop a daily practice of Self-Love, perhaps you’ll practice the Loving Kindness Meditation or listen to the Body-Love Meditation on the Self-Love Diet website.
As you begin your daily journey on the Self-Love Diet, I hope asking the question, “What would love do?” will help you gain clarity. Will you share your stories with us on the Love Warrior Community Site?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Blessings on your Self-Love Diet.
Michelle Minero, the Co-Founder of this blog and the overarching Love Warrior Community published her book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works. You can buy her book online or at the Petaluma Copperfield’s bookstore. For upcoming events and book signings, starting April 13th, visit Michelle’s Events page.
Michelle Minero is a licensed marriage family therapist who specializes in eating disorder recovery. Michelle’s book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works, was published on January 23, 2013. You can purchase a copy through Amazon. Her dream is to see a world filled with people who love themselves and their bodies.
Michelle created an intensive outpatient eating disorder program in 2000, brought ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc.) to Petaluma shortly after and founded EDRS (Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc.), a Marin and Sonoma County based 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2005.
In 2011, Michelle co-founded the Love Warrior Community with her daughter, Emelina, an online community that helps people cultivate self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance through creative expression. Connect with Michelle on Facebook and Twitter.