Updated: Feb 13
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao-Tzu
It is part of our human existence to love and be loved most would argue. We need social relationships and healthy connections to thrive on this planet. However, it's possible in our quest for "the one" we have forgotten the first and foremost important "one" of all...ourselves! Don't get me wrong, I agree that relationships are a natural part of life and necessary to our survival. At the same time, I often see friends and family who put their love conquests at the forefront of their life, abandoning their self or ignoring themselves. We've all been there of course, I myself am guilty of neglecting my spirit's true inner longings.
After my own experiences with intense and toxic relationships, I came to a point where the only person I could truly count on was myself. Because of this experience, I gained so much insight about who I was and what I needed. I even learned how to provide for myself emotionally and spiritually. I believe we have been taught in Western society to depend too heavily on the opinions and acceptance of others. It's only now that self-acceptance is being encouraged on mainstream level. Even while we see notebooks and t-shirts that say things like "Today is a great day!", "Shine Bright"or "Love Yourself!" we are also still being subliminally programed to hide our true selves; to have happy fake images of our lives on social and to abandoned ourselves for a self that prescribes to the trends of the times rather then a self that is constructed from the deep internal soul.
Many of us have experienced some type of hurt, or even trauma. It's helpful to recognize the effects of emotional pain and how they shape the way we view ourselves. On some level several of us struggle with fear of abandonment, or fear of commitment, or some type of fear around loving ourselves and others. Because of this, we tend to silence our body, mind and spirit's needs and replace them with the needs of others. We put others' needs first at times before we've even heard the longings of our own heart. Being that we are a human collective it's important to recognize the illusion of separation. When we recognize our connection to all other human beings, it becomes less important to "have someone" and more valuable to "be someone" to live as the one of many "ones" floating in a sea of unity. We may perceive ourselves as individuals but as far as space is concerned, we are one big blob of matter.
As our acknowledgement of unity comes into focus, we can let go of the desperate need to be with someone or to be loved because we are love. We are the energy that love is made from, we posses all the love we need within our own heart and soul. Why should we focus more on loving ourselves ? What will we gain from it? Won't we be lonely?
When you embark on your own journey of self-love, you may have your ego scrambling and panicking at the idea of not being accepted by others or not having the assurance of love from others. One thing to remember is how much the idea of romance and possession is drilled into our psyche. We are taught we are nothing without the love of a boyfriend or girlfriend , a spouse, a family member, but let's explore nothingness.
Nothingness, is not what you think. When we are nothing, we are in spacious place. When we have yet to define ourselves, our potential is open and expansive. When you are empty, you can be filled. When we enter this world we are part of the nothingness of the world. We are empty. We are filled with the thoughts and feelings of our human collective experience. We are filled with the emotions and expectations of those around us. We are filled with the ideas of cultural tradition, religion, social rules etc. Sometimes we are so full of these things, there is no room for self-love, there's no room to even recognize the self amidst the mirrored images of self we see in media, and advertising. When we empty ourselves of all of these things, we can begin to fill ourselves with the matter of our choice rather than be at the mercy of outside forces. When we allow ourselves to be nothing first, we can then re-build ourselves to the something we truly want to be.
Self love is a life-long journey, the more you are in-tune and in love with your true self, the more you'll attract people who mirror that self love. When you attract people who do not love themselves it's merely a wasting of essence only to realize that you actually needed to give yourself this love, and that's what those partners mirror back to you! That's not to say you do not learn from bad relationship experiences, sometimes we need certain experiences as a "dose of wokeness". However, if you want to take the shortcut to the love you deserve....you may have to take the long road of loving yourself first! Here are someways you can get started!
Make a date....with yourself!
This sounds silly but is actually quite effective. With our busy over scheduled lives it's easy to get stuck in piles of work at the office or helping our friends. While it's good to help others, it's better to make sure we are consistently checking in with ourselves and doing the things we love! For me a typical date with myself can be something low key like reading in the bathtub, and trying a new recipe. It can be treating myself to a sauna visit. It can even be 15 minutes of self love meditations, or 5 minutes of complimenting myself in the mirror. At first I thought this would be too narcissistic...but true self-love is not narcissistic. The love I practice towards myself is the love I give to others. We get to decide how we'd like to treat ourselves but we should be sure that what we do is aligned with our values and the person we'd want to date. If we don't want to date ourselves...who else will want to ? We need to love to be with ourselves!
Take control of your health and emotional well being
There is a stigma around mental health; we see ourselves as either normal...or crazy. This is an unhealthy duality to believe. One reason is that when we reduce ourselves to being "normal" or not we actually limit ourselves, and ignore the true complexities of our human nature. It is in my humble observation that we all experience multiple different states of emotional un-wellness on a regular basis. We have normalized being emotionally sick with being "normal". That is the danger with the word "normal" anything, as unhealthy as it may be can be normalized. A great example is something like alcohol or sugar. Both substances have found to be addictive and even toxic to our bodies, yet they are very normalized parts of our culture; most people accept these substances and continue to consume them as if they are valued assets to our daily lives. The same can be said for toxic ideas, and thought forms. Find out what your body responds to...you should know your body inside and out. It's not your doctors job to heal you. It is your body, you only get one in this lifetime and no matter who you are or what you've done in this or other lifetimes, you deserve a vibrant, healthy life! Part of the reason people struggle with finding true mind and body wellness is that they did not have good models for health growing up. That's okay! It's never too late to start becoming aware of our body's needs versus it's conditioning. Changing our diet alone can often have huge effects on our mind and the way we see ourselves. Exercise and food are powerhouse medicines and are key factors in maintaining a healthy self-image. Rather then dieting, try focusing on changing your lifestyle, because your lifestyle habits will determine much more about your health in the future. When we take a 30 day cleanse but then go right back to eating unhealthy food, we are setting ourselves up for comprised health, which will eventually catch up with us! Instead, take your time getting to know your body and mind and what works for you!
Write out 100 things that you love about yourself!
This exercise can be done over a longer period of time. For example, you can buy a big poster board at a craft or art store. Decorate it, draw on it, make it your own! Each day, have one thing about yourself you love or one thing that is lovable about you, or something your good at! Whenever you start to doubt yourself or feel bad, you can refer to this growing list of amazing truths about you! You could also do this exercise by just saying these things to yourself while looking in the mirror. It can be nice to have all these reminders written down as you watch the list grow overtime. It's cool to look back after the 100 days and see that there are 100 amazing things about you! It can also help you start to paint a picture of self acceptance. You can of course do variations of the exercise. For example, you could try writing out one thing everyday for a year, then you'd have 365 things to remind you how awesome you are!
Work on self-compassion and acceptance
One key factor in self love we often forget is self-compassion and acceptance. While we are amazing organisms, we are still human organisms and prone to jealousy, rage, greed and a host of other "evils". However, we must be careful not to villainize ourselves or others. Often our "enemies" are a reflection of our own misunderstanding of our complex human nature. I truly believe there is a reason behind all human behavior and when we seek to address our internal and external concerns with a sense of curiosity, we can find answers rather than assumptions. It's so important to be aware when we may have done or said something hurtful to ourselves or others. Next, seek to observe the behavior for what it is without making anyone the "bad guy". Seek to truly understand why that behavior occurred. Then take the time in silence and quietness to find forgiveness. It may not come at first. There may be a period where we need to allow the emotional body to speak first before our higher mind can come in and mediate.
I truly believe if everyone started to make strong and consistent efforts towards self-love and acceptance we'd turn the world of love on it's head! We have so much power as individuals to harness, and when we take the time to love and forgive ourselves and others, a whole new world of love will open up. We are on our way to a new decade and it's time to approach love with full sight--full vision. It's time to love in 2020 vision; love yourself fully and you'll never be lonely again!