How do you feel about Self-Love? More importantly, how well do you love yourself? For most of us, loving ourselves is something we may know is important, but often have difficulty actually embodying.
For me, I’ve spent much of my life – as a student, an artist, in relationships, and in general demanding perfection from myself, and of course, falling short and then feeling inadequate on a regular basis. Most people I know and work with have some version of “I’m not good enough” that runs their life, their work, and their relationships.
Self-Love forms the foundation of the most important relationship – one with yourself. The strength of all your other relationships depends on the strength of that foundation. To love yourself is not just a self-esteem boosting piece of advice, it is the prerequisite to truly loving others. The Golden Rule tells us to “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. Looking a little closer though you will find that deciphers to love yourself.
Will the Real Self-Lover Please Stand Up? To love yourself is to be in awe of the miracle of your existence. It is to accept yourself as you are with the “light” and the “dark”, the “good” and the “bad” within yourself- while knowing that the real you is above the perceived dualities of the physical realm. It is to be willing to receive as much as you are willing to give and do both equally. It is about knowing your values and your boundaries and honouring them. It is about teaching others how to treat you by showing them how you treat yourself. It is about being kind to yourself. It is about looking after your mind, your body and your spirit; all three. It is about knowing you are worth it, not because of what you have achieved or what you look like or what others think of you, but because love is your birthright no matter who you are.
Self-Love is what we’re all searching for – in our work, our relationships, and our lives. Sadly, we spend most of our time thinking that someone or something else can give us what only we can give ourselves. To be truly fulfilled in life and relationships, we have to find the love within us and give it to ourselves. No other person, material possession, or accomplishment can do it. It’s up to us.
Especially when it comes to relationships, Self-Love is essential. One of the best gifts we can give to the people around us is to love ourselves in a genuine way. As my mom used to say to me when I was young, “You can’t love anyone else, until you love yourself.”
Here are a few things to think about and practice as you deepen your own capacity for loving yourself:
Notice your relationship with Self-Love.
How do you feel about it, how comfortable are you with it, and what resistance do you feel when it comes to loving yourself? Being honest about your relationship with yourself is the first step in altering it. Many of us have not been encouraged or taught to love ourselves. We have also not seen many healthy models of self love around us. And, we’re often much better at being hard on ourselves than we are at being kind and loving towards ourselves. Based on these and other factors, Self-Love can be a bit tricky. Once we realize the truth about how we relate to Self-Love, we can start to expand our ability to love ourselves in a more real way.
Let go of your conditions.
When it comes to loving ourselves, if we even put much attention on it, we often do so in a very conditional way. We love ourselves only when we do “good” things, “succeed” in specific ways, or take care of ourselves in ways we deem important. While there’s nothing wrong with us feeling good about ourselves in relationship to these and other “positive” things, truly loving ourselves is an unconditional process – which means accepting, appreciating, and celebrating all of who we are, both light and dark. By letting go of our conditions and loving ourselves in an unconditional manner, like how we love babies, animals, or others we have little or no specific expectations of, we can start to deepen our authentic love for ourselves.
Start practicing, right now.
Do anything and everything you can to express love for yourself – right now, not after you realize you “deserve” it. Since most of us have some resistance to loving ourselves, taking any and every self loving action we can think of is important. There are lots of things we can do – both big and small – to practice loving ourselves. Speaking kindly about ourselves, taking compliments graciously, taking care of ourselves, honoring our emotions, pampering ourselves, celebrating our successes (and failures), appreciating our “flaws,” and much more are all simple (although not always easy) things we can do to practice Self-Love. Also, be willing to ask for help and look to others who seem to do a good job at this, so you can get the support and guidance that you need. Loving ourselves is a life-long, never ending practice.
Self-Love is the starting point, not the end game, of our conscious growth and development. For most of us, myself included, it’s much easier to talk about loving ourselves than it is to actually practice it. However, when we put our attention on loving ourselves in an authentic way, everything in our lives that is important to us – our work, our relationships, our goals, and more – flows with a sense of ease, joy, and, most important, love.
What do you love about yourself? How can you expand your capacity for Self-Love in a way that will positively impact you, those around you, and your entire life? Share your thoughts, action ideas, and insights.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you yourself are, however you will never find such a person.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
In a nutshell, Self-Love is a prerequisite to loving others. Your relationships are only as strong as the foundation of your Self-Love. Debunk any belief that loving yourself is selfish or egotistical, and replace it with the truth that your very essence is love, that unconditional Self-Love is your birthright. When you know that you are one with the One Source of All Love, that you are connected to everything and everyone, you will know that you cannot possibly experience true love without first loving yourself. You will have discovered the truth that Self-Love truly is the greatest love of all.
Liked this article? Also read, Your Emotions Matter.
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