It’s hard to talk about Self-love these days without raising a few eyebrows and coming across as being self-centered or narcissistic. This is hardly surprising considering we live in a social climate that is increasingly over-competitive and driven by political and cultural values that promote (in my opinion) a false sense of individual freedom. In short, we live in a society that has justified and normalized the ‘I need to fight over limited resources to be better, smarter, more well-off than others’ mentality. No wonder that the idea of Self-love is seen in a suspicious light.
Moreover, the idea of loving oneself is sort of admonished or discouraged from a young age by adults who would explain to the child that it might come across as selfish, disrespectful, boastful or unloving towards others in the social community. We are therefore brought up to think and feel that loving oneself is to some extent wrong or that if we do so then there must be something wrong with us. Sadly this is one of the many things that we have been socially conditioned and programmed to believe (wrongly of course). More relevant to what I want to point out here – it’s a conditioning of something that later becomes a big detriment to our personal growth, happiness and of reaching our full potential.
What is Self-love really?
To be clear from the beginning, Self-love is not closing yourself in from others around you and falling into an unhealthy and unbalanced self-admiration. That would be justified as being labeled narcissistic. It isn’t about nurturing a feeling of superiority or worse despising others or feeling that one has a moral right to deny others what one gains for oneself. Self-love is about compassion, openness and more importantly allowing.
We think that we are in conflict with the world – with situations around us that are perceived as being unjust, harsh or painful. The truth is that most of the time, if not all of the time, we are in conflict with ourselves. We are constantly battling and resisting our self from evolving to our highest potential and being truly who we are. We do so through a common enemy – fear.
By becoming a victim of fear – the fear of losing out on life, fear of others’ disapproval, fear of change, fear of facing certain truths and most of all fear of facing oneself – we disallow ourselves from living life more fully and being open to who we truly are in an authentic way. So an important part of what loving oneself really means is allowing yourself to be what you truly want to be in line with your highest potential. You see, fear creates internal resistance and resistance begets more pain and suffering. Stop resisting yourself and start allowing! Let me say it again: Stop resisting yourself and start allowing. The fault is not in the stars or in others around you. The problem is that you are not allowing yourself to be who you are.
How do you allow what?
You allow yourself to be human first and foremost:
This means recognizing that it’s OK to be fallible, to make mistakes or to make wrong judgments sometimes. The important thing is to recognize it and face it first. Second is the resolve to learn from it, change it and move on. Last but definitely not least is to stop judging or criticizing yourself. We really are our biggest critics. We can be hard on ourselves, unforgiving at times and in some extremes hateful. We engender negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves that continues to distort our self-image and undermine our confidence and self-worth. I am always dumbfounded when I hear people saying that they hate themselves or they have passionately hated themselves at some point in their lives. It is really unconceivable how we can do that as humans. Stop being hard on yourself. Forgive yourself. Soften up and see how more easy it is to tolerate, forgive and allow others to be. This will bring me to another point later on about reflection and projection.
You also allow yourself to create your space, your dreams and your life:
Stop depending on others to rescue you. You are a wonderful creator. That is what you are here for but alas so few people ever get a glimpse of this truth. You do not need anyone or anything in particular. You just need Self-love and this also means recognizing that you have an immense potential and power to create your destiny no matter what your mind, fears and social conditioning made you believe. It means trusting and believing in yourself again! Yes, to love yourself is to understand that you are more than whatever concept you might have held about yourself or what others might think or perceive. To love yourself is to trust in your own power and wisdom to choose what is right, in alignment with your true nature. Nothing can ever be more powerful because whatever you create from that space is authentic, free from self-doubt, resistance or from a distorted self-image. That is the space from which you reach your highest fulfilment.
Allow yourself to receive more:
This is somehow counterintuitive but yes, it is very true that we are not always open to receive – whether it is love, care, help, company, joy and kindness. This stems from a basic but unhelpful feeling that we do not deserve these things or that life is somehow cold and harsh to us. It also wells up from a deep lack of self-worth even though this might be concealed from our conscious awareness. At some level we might think that we are confident and able but at some other level we might be sending out subconscious signals that we are not worthy of love and hence this closes us off to the possibility of receiving it whether from others or from ourselves.
Loving yourself starts from flipping your view
You have to understand something and this can be a very hard and scary realisation at first for many: In life we wear the inside out. You might be asking what on earth am I saying. What I am saying here is that there is no world outside of you. Whatever you see, feel or think is always based on the filters of your perception. The world is always colored according to your emotions, past experiences, beliefs, etc. So far, this might be common knowledge to most.
The point not always understood though (or accepted) is that what we see outside is purely a reflection of what is inside. If you see or feel madness and pain around you it is because somehow that need for healing resides somewhere inside. If you see warmth and serenity it is because inner peace dwells within. If you see deceit and betrayal in others, it is because somewhere inside you are not honoring your truth. In short, we are most of the time projecting our ‘inner world’ on to the ‘outer world’ when in fact the latter is just a reflection of the former. We wear the inside out and we do this both individually and collectively (wars or upheaval for instance are purely a collective manifestation of our inner battles as a collective, etc).
Before you go on to disagree with me just think about it for a minute and then continue reading. Do you really believe that life just happens to you or do you somehow resonate with the idea that your life is perfectly a manifestation of your inner field of thoughts and emotions whether good or bad? Do you ever notice how some days you feel as though life is smiling on you and everything ‘fits’ beautifully. People and situations seem to dance around you in perfect sync. Or on the other hand, a day where things go totally wrong – accidents, obstructions along the way, mishaps, people being nasty and problems relentlessly popping out of nowhere? Did you ever notice what your inner state is in both the situations? Just be aware and observe next time it ‘happens’ to you.
Another important point is that all relationships are mirrors. Once again, what we see in others (yes, no matter how awesome, terrible, wrong or distasteful – sorry for this) is always a reflection of you. Yes perhaps not completely so but to some degree – always and most definitely. You have to realize that nothing and nobody can inflict pain or make you happy because those are things that are already in you (whether you are conscious of it or not). Blaming others, understood from this truth is being in denial or failing to see the illusion of living in a world that is separate and independent from you.
We fall in and out of love with people because we fall in and out of love with ourselves. Which brings me back again to the main theme – Self-love.
Why is self-love the basis of all personal growth?
As we saw above, loving yourself means allowing, trusting and opening up for your inner life to flourish by being aligned with who you truly are and with your highest potential. Since what we experience around us is nothing more than a reflection of what is happening inside of us, it follows that by loving yourself you are opening up to experience more love in life and from others around you. Do not expect to be truly loved or to experience more love in your life if you do not stop and start loving yourself first. So if you want to feel and spread the love, you know where to start from.
Happy Valentine’s day everyone!