Learning the Art of Self-Love
I was introduced to the concept from the book, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. I must admit, I was completely shocked to learn that I did not fully know what self-love meant. I took care of my body, but I criticized it relentlessly. I pursued my goals and crushed many of them, but it was never good enough. Each time I would accomplish something, my first thought was, “I should have been able to do this sooner”. I gained weight and beat myself up for being fat. I lost weight and judged myself for being too skinny. The truth is I really sucked at loving myself. My self-love was the most conditional love of all.
The saddest part of lacking self-love is we think we still have the capacity to love others unconditionally. But the reality is we can only love others to the degree that we love ourselves. You are literally incapable of giving others something that you do not have. It’s like trying to pour from an empty cup – it’s not possible. We buy into the illusion that we can criticize, judge and condemn ourselves while pouring out unconditional love to others. This is simply not true.
All problems can be solved by learning to love yourself.
My entire life changed when I realized that all problems can be solved by learning to love myself. I mean this both literally and figuratively. Let’s take an everyday situation for example. Let’s imagine my kitchen sink is clogged and fixing the garbage disposal is about as familiar to me as living on Jupiter or Mars. Obviously, I cannot simply stare at the sink and love myself into fixing it! However, because I love myself, there are many things I can do:
- I can choose not to take it personally.
- I can decide not to let it derail my day.
- I can release the temptation to go into a victim consciousness, with thoughts like, “Why do these things always happen to me?”
- I can choose not to let be anything more than it is – a fairly common situation that simply needs to be handled.
- I can look up a YouTube video and see if it is a simple fix (by the way, it is a simple fix!).
- I can acknowledge that I am not a jack of all trades. If I can’t fix it… or if fixing it might risk breaking a nail, I can call someone else to get it done!
- I can treat myself the way I would treat a toddler learning how to walk. I wouldn’t beat up my toddler because she keeps falling down! I would lovingly encourage her to try again, hold her hand, tell her she’s doing a wonderful job, and shower love on her scrapes and bruises so she knows everything is going to be alright.
- I can remind myself that I am doing the best I can at any given moment.
- I can experience frustration without letting those feelings overtake me.
- I can pause and breathe and gain perspective. Maybe I was already having a rough day and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe I just need to calm down.
- I can choose to flood my mind, body, and spirit with reassuring and empowering beliefs, such as “Ok, this happened and I got this. I can handle anything that comes my way,”
- I can acknowledge the situation while still expressing gratitude, “I wish I didn’t have to deal with this…. but I remember when I did not have a home to call my own. I am so grateful for my home and the means to take care of it. I have everything I need. I am blessed.”
The More You Awaken, the Less You React
Of course, I still get annoyed over inconvenient situations and disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I wanted. Life happens and the unexpected can throw me off course, too. I am still capable of losing my temper when someone cuts me off in traffic or yelling out a few expletives here and there when I am frustrated. I’m human… but that’s not all I am.
Self-Love is A Moment-by-Moment Practice
Learning how to truly fall in love with yourself requires you to be fully present in your life. Remember, you are much more than you appear to be, and you have the ability to develop the skill of self-love. As we continue along our spiritual journey of enlightenment, we come to understand these concepts more fully and live them out. There is another way to live… a way that is empowering, beneficial for yourself and all who are connected to you… a way that helps make sense of life. Once we see a different path, we cannot un-see it. We no longer have to be afraid to love and accept ourselves unconditionally.
In what ways do you judge, criticize or condemn yourself?
What do you imagine is possible if each time you let yourself down, instead of beating yourself up, you treat yourself like a toddler learning to walk?
What is one small step – one tiny habit you can create today in an effort to show yourself more love?
Finish this sentence: Because I love myself, I will start____________________; I will stop _________________; I will continue ______________.
May I release the need for self-judgement & self-criticism. I am willing to love myself unconditionally.