Goal: To develop Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode behaviors that demonstrate you’re Loving Yourself
You may recall my shortened definition of Wisdom is “to become skilled in living,” and a word-picture of the Greek word Sophia describes Wisdom as an artist, or any person standing before a blank canvas, who creates (with God’s help, inspiration and guidance) a beautiful picture that depicts their life one brushstroke (one thought, one conversation, one decision, one action, one day, etc.) at a time.
So in this post about producing Healthy Adult behavior that demonstrates you’re loving yourself, your focus and goal is, like the artist who creates a canvas full of breathtaking images, to create healthy adult behavior that depicts you’re loving yourself, using the virtues, values, morals, and principles that your God freely and generously gives to you to accomplish this essential task in your life!
An interesting and possibly unintended outcome of your work to love yourself is it may win the admiration of others when they observe you practicing loving actions for your own well-being, displayed in the “behavioral brushstrokes,” which portray your commitment to crafting healthy, empowering and loving experiences and outcomes for yourself!
Although your demonstration of any healthy adult behavior has its roots in loving yourself, the catalyst for growing self-love originates with three suggested characteristics discussed in this post: Your Morals and your Insight, which when thoughtfully applied results in your Fruitfulness, tangibly displayed in adult behavior that nourishes you and eventually provides nurturance with your neighbors, which we’ll explore in the next post. For now, let’s take a look at how these three characteristics are nutrimental to you.
Healthy Adult Characteristic #1 – MORALS: Your morals consist of virtues, values, mores, principles and ethics, and they define and reflect your identity, character, what’s important to you, and are seen in your conduct or behavior (healthy or unhealthy) that you display at any given time.
Defining and living by your morals is important because they not only provide answers to four key questions in life (below), but they’ll assist you in producing healthy adult behavior that’s productive to you, and by default will assist you to define and maintain boundaries with behavior that’s non-productive for you. The four key questions in life which are answered by the morals you adopt and live by are:
- Who am I? (Where your morals define which values, virtues and character are part of your identity).
- What’s my purpose? (Where your morals display behavior you deem helpful and meaningful).
- How shall I live? (Where your morals reflect consistency with helpful, meaningful and productive living).
- What’s my legacy? (Where your morals reflect accomplishments that characterize a helpful and meaningful life that’s well-lived).
In the previous post (Spiritual #10), we looked at how the virtue Love and the other 18 virtues are manifested and grown in your life due to your creation and maintenance of a conscious contact with God. A healthy step in the direction of self-love (and I dare say which will serve you for the remainder of your life), is to understand the meaning of these precious virtues, then identify ways to grow and administer them to yourself on a consistent, if not daily basis.
Take a look at the table below. Could you imagine how your life could be enriched if you make it a point to “feed yourself” with these behaviors everyday and throughout the day? Know that you’re responsible and “response-able” to feed your body, soul, mind and spirit with these life-giving and affirming characteristics which by definition and practice approximates self-love!
Healthy Adult Characteristic #2 – INSIGHT: Dr. Dan Siegal identifies Insight as one of the nine middle prefrontal cortex functions, and he defines Insight as “self-knowledge,” which, as an inner sense of knowing yourself helps you to “link (and learn about) your remembered past, live present and imagined future.”
This is important because making healthy adult decisions based on knowing where you’ve been (your past, and how that’s impacted you), knowing where you’re currently at (your present state of mind and the needs you currently have) and knowing what you’d like and need to develop to create a healthy future (again, based on the integration of what you’ve learned about these “three parts” of yourself) is empowering and one of the best ways to create loving experiences for yourself!
Taking regular “time-outs to take time-ins” to reflect and discover what thoughts, feelings, wants and needs you have, and, how you’re going to meet those needs one behavioral brushstroke at a time, is a great way to live (per the four questions above) and it creates the added benefit of what Dr. Siegal defines is an internal “a triangle of well-being.”
An internal triangle of well-being is a necessary precursor to experiencing good interpersonal neurobiology with others, and it occurs when your brain and mind (not to mention your body and soul) are working together to create an internal environment within yourself where calm, emotional regulation and thoughtfulness meet up and work together to assist you to make the best of all decisions for yourself, as you think about cultivating self-love and loving experiences for yourself (and eventually with others).
Personally and professionally, creating and living in a triangle of well-being is one of the best ways to love myself because using insight in this manner reduces dysregulating moments when my past or current set of circumstances threaten to hijack me, and take me further away from versus closer to the worthwhile and necessary goals I have for myself (and again, with others!).
Guided by my morals and using insight in this manner to think about then act to create life experiences that manifest self-love on a regular basis helps me to feel confident about who I am, competent and skilled in my effort to cultivate love, which results in mature and fruitful encounters as I endeavor to live by these healthy adult mode characteristics.
Healthy Adult Characteristic #3: FRUITFULNESS (MATURITY): Fruitfulness and maturity are the end result of a process of growth, and it’s my hope you’ll grow an abundance of fruitful and mature experiences of self-love that’s pleasing to observe and edifying and empowering to your person over the seasons of your life!
I’ve talked about the process of growth in previous posts and in other books in the Cultivating Love book series, but here I’d like to conclude this post with a few points about your effort to cultivate and enjoy fruitful and mature behaviors that culminate in self-love.
First, listen to your God via your conscious contact with God, and identify the morals and characteristics you’ll choose to develop because when you think about your past and present life, developing and “consuming” these behaviors helps you to feel strong, competent, fruitful and mature. Giving yourself what regularly strengthens the very core of your being reflects self-care, self-control, self-efficacy and self-love, which are fruitful and mature behaviors indeed!
Second, never again do you need to starve, beg for or worse, manipulate others into providing anything to you beyond “reasonable responses” for your well-being. This is empowering because if by engaging in self-knowledge and self-awareness activity you identify exactly what you need based on your past or current set of circumstances, you’re also capable of using that same energy to identify and develop characteristics which are edifying, nourishing and indicative of the love you want, need and eventually, would like to share with others who are appreciative (versus desolate, deviant and distasteful) of the fruitful and mature person you are and have become!
Finally, your ability to develop self-loving behaviors that are fruitful and mature for your personal benefit means you’re able to cultivate and deliver (within reason) a similar quality of fruitfulness and maturity in your actions with others. Think about the Good Samaritan story: Have you ever thought about why it was almost effortless for him to do the next right thing in his behavior with the hurt person? I’d suggest this occurred because the same values and morals he demonstrated were the same values and morals he chose to live by, and subsequently delivered those behaviors to others who needed this unique expression of love. When it comes to integrity, if you’re able to cultivate loving behavior for yourself, then you’re able to cultivate it for others, which is necessary for you to “love your neighbor as yourself,” which we’ll explore in Spiritual #12: Your Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 3 – Loving Your Neighbor).”
Activity: Create your “Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic List” patterned after the one above. View it daily and give yourself these loving behaviors regularly to experience fruitfulness and maturity in your actions.
Skill to develop: The ability to come to your own assistance by developing and giving to yourself healthy expressions of self-love.
Next: Spiritual #12: Your Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 3 — Loving Your Neighbor)
Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3–2–5–4–24″ for additional information that could be helpful.