To love oneself…
What does this even mean?
We all have different understating of the word love…
A fleeting irrational, animal response? A mere feeling?
Most often people relate the word love, to “romantic love” between two people, in a relationship, but even the meaning and understanding of what a relationship is so distorted nowadays… We are more “connected” than ever, but more isolated than ever before, especially from our own selves. The only real home and sure source of love we’ll ever find, our own souls.
I believe real love is more than just a feeling.
Real love is a verve, and a most potent sacred force making the world go around…
Unfortunately, language often impedes us to make sense and even express of all our feelings…
The same with love, which yes, is also a feeling of affection, care…
Eros love, includes attraction and feelings of lust…
But real love goes beyond fleeting momentary feelings, real love is a virtue and a divine gift.
I shall attempt to deconstruct or sketch a clear picture of what this love looks like:
First of all, real love encompasses the words:
Precede the word “unconditional” before all the above…
Now I could go into defining each of the above as well, but I trust we can all look up the meaning of the afore mentioned and get a clear understanding of what they all mean.
Although these words might look all “fluffy” and rosy, rainbows and butterflies, spring everywhere…
They are actually the most difficult things to practice, for us humans, trapped in our ego shells, but they are the most powerful and redeeming forces for any one of us.
So when it comes to self love, where to start?
First by accepting yourself, sounds simple right? Easier said than done.
Accepting our messy, broken selves who everyday we try to change according to societies expectations of what we “should be” as humans.
From a young age we are made to feel inadequate and ashamed of our short comings, some more than others….
So this is the beginning, accepting who you are warts and all, and realising you are not just your “mistakes”, “defects”, but realising that these things are actually what shape you into the unique wonderful individual that you are.
Realising that it is through these struggles you are actually being polished into the diamond that you are.
Realising that there’s nothing wrong with you, you are just the way god, the universe, the providence, nature, whatever you wanna call it intended you to be… Perfectly you.
This is the first step to self love.
Acknowledging yourself in all your glory as not just a pile of negative adjectives of everything the world told you, you “should be”, but being real with the truth of who you are, and being proud of that. Sure, you are not perfect, you could have a million defects which you want to change but we all do, but the first step in changing or “improving” any of those defects or bettering yourself in any way, is by first acknowledging who you are in the first place, acknowledging and loving ourselves into “better” versions of ourselves, not outcasting or berating ourselves for certain parts we are not quite proud of or we don’t like.
For example you could have a fiery temper, and tend to feel anger which you often try to deny, keep contained or reflect onto other people, until eventually you explode… and then you give yourself even more of a hard time for “losing control”, or being an asshole, or a bad person or whatever the condemning thought might be.
The first step is to have compassion towards ourselves, for having all these feelings and unhelpful thoughts, being human and vulnerable and simply not perfect.
Then gently, being aware of certain tendencies or unhelpful habits we might’ve picked up throughout the years for whatever reason, and try to transform them into something more helpful for ourselves and others.
For example that anger, passion, all that energy can be a powerful force for transformation, for taking action towards a noble cause with compassion and benevolence above all. Because we know hate or any destructive action doesn’t benefit anyone, it only damages all parties involved.
So it’s about acknowledging yourself in all your glory and go from there…
To illustrate this, in my experience, I’ve always been an anxious person for as long as I can remember, given my “difficult” upbringing, trauma etc…
For years I tried to negate, hide this anxiety and deep sadness I felt, I just didn’t want to acknowledge them because the feelings where too painful, they were real, but I thought they were a nuisance I had to ignore and just “get on with it”. I lived totally disconnected from my emotions, trapped in my mind, telling myself how “I should” feel instead of owning up to my feelings and which lead to years of destructive behaviour. First of all, I hated myself for all the things I should be and I wasn’t, I hated myself for all my “mistakes”, so often I kept myself isolated, I lived behind a mask, never showing my true self, all my pain. It was only when I opened the doors of my own heart to myself that I could be free…
I started to feel deep compassion for myself, because my anxiety and sadness where there for a reason, I’d had a difficult past, I’d gone through some very rough things that would leave anyone sad and anxious, and there was nothing I could do about the past, the past was done, but my emotions which I didn’t allow myself to feel, where still stuck there because I never allowed myself to process them…
So I started by accepting my past and the feelings that came with them, and realising how it was ok to feel everything that I was feeling. What’s more, I realised these experiences where actually a gift, these deep suffering allowed me to become a more compassionate person towards those in pain, these experiences taught me how to forgive, myself and others.
These experiences taught me the way to love.
Now I realise, there’s no such thing in the universe as mistakes, everything happens for a reason even if we don’t realise it or understand it at the time, everything is a lesson, everything is working towards the evolution of our better selves…
So back to loving myself,
This means forgiving myself for all my mistakes, things on retrospective I could’ve done better? But hey! We all try to do the best we can with what we have with what we have and what we know at the time, so what’s the point in dwelling on the past?
We can only learn, and move on, wiser than before.
Second, loving myself means being true to myself, in all aspects.
First, it means acknowledging my past, all it’s pain and owning it. It means acknowledging all my emotions, not judging them as good or bad, just allowing them to be there, and have compassion for how hard it is sometimes to feel a million things at once that my brain can’t even process.
Loving myself means chasing my dreams, it mean having the courage to break out of my shell and create a life I’m proud of, a live that reflects my values….
Loving myself means loving others around me as well, and not being ashamed of this love, not being scared of being who I am but beaming proudly all this Love I carry within me because, heck it’s a treasure I’ve worked hard to find, literally through many years and tears.
In practical terms it means, acknowledging all my moods, all my physical sensations and acting mindfully to take care of each one. It means being present to my life every second. Being grounded in love.
It means accepting my body as it is, scarred, hairy and all.
It means nourishing it with healthy food, it means giving it the rest it needs.
It means taking care of my mind, nourishing it with wisdom, allowing it to rest and have some fun as well.
It means taking care of my emotions and listen to what they are trying to tell me…
It means making peace with myself, from the constant war… it means working with me not against me…
It means unity, mind, body and spirit…
It means learning to trust myself, my gut, my intuition.
It means being true to my values and beliefs and not be ashamed of being who I am
It means having patience with myself…. having endless compassion for my ego and anxious mind.
It means living a life that makes me happy even if others don’t understand…
It means being in touch with my real self, my soul, endless love.
It means being a compassionate, nurturing mother towards myself.
It means being deeply aware at every time of what I’m feeling and thinking, and grounded, respond accordingly.
It means being mindful and present to my life.
It means acknowledging all my desires and feelings and not keep them exiled or be ashamed of them.
It means reconciling my heart and mind.
It means spreading that love I have within me with others and everyone around me in any way I can…
It means trying to make the world a more loving place.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”