(This article is from my professional blog Undercurrent Coaching but I wanted to share it with you here.)
Why do we need to love ourselves? A favored topic among women’s literature and magazines, self-love advice is usually wrapped up in one or two vague and prescriptive lines, like be more confident; believe in yourself; accept who you are.
Has that advice ever helped you to? Probably not.
Love’s complexity is also its’ beauty. Healthy self-love is the full expression of the human spirit and without that sense of inner peace co-existing with the outer world, well — life would be pretty unbearable.
Self-love is what propels us to become better versions of ourselves. It’s not a static end-point — you don’t awake one day, fully self-loving and expect that to continue for the rest of your days.
Inspiration and reflection blend seamlessly together. Self-love is the balance between appreciating who you are and discovering who you will become.
Loving the self makes all other expressions of love visible. Like a house of cards, each layer depends upon the strength of the former, yet, each new layer, an extension of trust too.
Love of anything or anyone depends upon how much of yourself you see reflected within it. You soon recognize there is no separation between you and the other – somehow, you understand it’s all connected.
It’s one thing to intellectual say this and another to viscerally experience it. In the state of lucid acceptance, judgment of self is nearly impossible – and this ushers in the realization that self-love is possible when you stop being critical of yourself and appreciate the simplicity of being you.
What does it take to actually love yourself? There are conditions which bring about this desired level of awareness, and it’s comprised of virtues like openness, patience, acceptance, benevolence– you know, all those admirable human traits that have been around since the dawn of time.
But one important component to receiving self-love is, paradoxically, the experience of pain. Pain shapes how we navigate the world – pain’s lingering nature has the ability to haunt and torment long after the cause. In understanding your pain, you can understand your freedom too.
“There is a secrete medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can’t hope – the hopers would feel slighted if they knew…” -Rumi
What this medicine is will vary for person to person, but it’s received through the altering of your pain. The transformation to self-loves comes from accepting your pain as your promise. They are inseparable. Until you connect the halves with you, authentic self-love is not possible. No one else can bring these two segments together for you.
Love of self makes all other expressions of love possible for everything we encounter is a mirror of who we are. The more we love and accept our selves, the greater we do the same to others.