The time I did a love challenge

A few weeks ago I had this brilliant idea. Inspired by Aileen Xu and her wonderful Artist of Life workbook, I decided to persuasively invite my two dearest friends to do a love challenge.

In her workbook, Aileen encourages us to write down 10 things we love about ourselves. To nurture self-love and confidence. As I was writing down some things I sincerely loved about me, I began to wonder – how different are the things I love the most about myself from the things the people closest to me love about me? And what can I learn from that?


WHAT IS THE LOVE CHALLENGE?


It consisted of the following:

  1. we each write down 5 things we love about ourselves
  2. we each write down 5 things we love about the other person
  3. a few days later we email each other our answers
  4. share with each other our reactions to what the other has said

HOW IT WENT


The first thing my friend told me when she reacted to my email was something along the lines of “I’m surprised by almost everything you wrote about me.” On the other end, I wasn’t so much surprised by her answers (because she usually expresses her admiration for others naturally), but more on the side of “I don’t usually see any of these as such great things to love about me, or consider them my strengths, but I am so glad that you appreciate them!”

On my email I wrote this about my friend:

“[I love] your shamelessness: yeah. for me who’s always been ashamed of so many of my feelings and likes, and afraid to show my feelings, you are incredible. I love things silently, you love them out loud without caring who hears. truly. it’s inspiring.”

The absolute best part about this whole challenge was the feedback I got from my friend on this particular point. She couldn’t comprehend why someone would be ashamed of liking something. “What is there to be ashamed about liking something? There’s nothing bad about it!”

Later, I would tell her that if you try too hard to fit in, and if people consistently tell you that something you like is stupid as you grow up, you end up being ashamed to show your love for certain things. To me, it’s always heartwarming to see someone else express their love shamelessly, because I can’t (and I really wish I could!).

This is what she told me:

“(…)because I didn’t see you learn how to love things, it’s like it was always a part of you. Because you don’t express the surprise of loving something it doesn’t seem like a new thing, it just seems like it has always been there. I didn’t even consider it love, I just considered it a part of your personality. I just thought you were a pink girl. I don’t think about me like that. I separate myself from the things that I love, but when I think about you, I don’t separate them. They are all you. Weird, right?”

Did you notice that what I love so much about her is something I don’t have that I wish I did?

I admire what I see in her as bravery because being honest about my likes and feelings is hard for me, therefore her openness about it could only be perceived as bravery for me. And I admire her for it. But to her, it’s the simplest thing!

My friend Sara is not afraid of showing her likes and feelings – it’s the most natural thing! So, to her, she’s not being brave when she does it, meaning she will not value this quality in her the same way I do.

What’s more, because to Sara it’s natural to show excitement over a new thing, and since I didn’t behave like that, my likes and loves didn’t even register as such to her. They were just who I am.

It was when I came to this conclusion that I knew I had found the answer I was looking for when I created this challenge: the things we love about others are a reflection of the things we value and fear the most in our lives. We love others in conformity with how we love ourselves. We hate others in conformity with how we hate ourselves.

In simpler terms, we tend to love and appreciate in others what they have that we think we lack, and would love to also have. And because love and hate are so connected, we might also hate others for the same reason.

This is why loving yourself is so important. Because the more parts of me I love, the more parts in others I will find worthy of love as well. I will not resent, I will appreciate. I will not envy, I will celebrate and support.


LET’S DO THE CHALLENGE TOGETHER?


Since it turned out to be such a nice way to share love for me and my friend, I thought, on this month that is considered to be the month of love, why not spread the love further? Let’s all share one thing we love about ourselves, and one thing we love about someone else in our lives.

Here’s what you have to do to participate:

  1. Go to my INSTAGRAM or  TUMBLR (if you wish to do the challenge anonymously).
  2. Leave me a message with something you love about yourself + something you love about someone else in your life (no need to identify who the other person is)

I will compile all the answers and share them on Valentine’s Day on a very special post!

Up for it?

Let’s spread the love ❤

P.S.: Please remember that if you do this I might share you answer on the blog and on Instagram, so before submitting your answer, consider whether you’d like to do this anonymously or not!

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash