We are in the midst of a worldwide self-love crisis. The reason is that we don’t truly know who we are. We are no longer at peace with ourselves, let alone others. The result is that we don’t feel comfortable or safe.
When we feel uncomfortable and unsafe we can have a tendency to give our power away to those around us, or, we can hoard it behind defenses that cause us to become disconnected from ourselves and others.
So how do we cultivate Self-love?
The journey of a lifetime begins with a single step. The first step in the journey to Self-love is to understand who the Self is.
At this time in history we are taught that we are a combination of our body and our mind. Right from childhood we teach children to point to themselves and identify as their name. As we grow we are then taught to identify with our opinions, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, concepts, and accomplishments. We even identify with the objects we possess and the jobs or careers we have. THIS IS HAZARDOUS! All of these things are temporary. When something in our world changes we feel confused and lost, questioning, who am I without (insert identity here)?
The truth is that the body and the mind are tools. We manifested these tools to create with, much like a painter creates with brush and paints. The painter does not believe they are the brush or the paints. The painter understands that they are the one using these tools to create with!
Beneath the chaos of mind – thoughts, emotions, intellect and ego as well as the body, there is a stillness, a quiet feeling of calm and peace. When we go quiet and inward we can sense it.
So, step one is to recognize that you are not your experiences but the one who experiences life!
Once we have been introduced, we can then begin to form a relationship.
How do we form a relationship, create a bond between our smaller ego self and our more expanded higher Self?
We make one-on-one time to build the bond. For some this might be journaling. Others might be talking to our Self, or quiet walks in nature. For some it might come as words while others it might be pictures or a knowing.
The fastest and most powerful way I have come across in all of my research as well as personal experience, is meditation. In meditation we train our awareness to focus on the quietness, shutting out the chatter of mind and body. There is a deep well of compassion and kindness within us. We just need to go into our inner storeroom to access the unlimited supply.
As we begin to cultivate this relationship with Self, taking responsibility for where we are today becomes vital to progress on this journey.
First, we need to recognize that we are where we are today because of the decisions we have made over the course of our life. This is in no way meant to be a platform for self-abuse. We recognize that we did the best we could with what we had at the time. However, now we have more.
Our decisions are choices, and they are governed by our thinking. Our thoughts and emotions create our mood. Our mood governs our actions. Repeated over and over they create our personality. Our personality creates our personal reality, our view of ourselves and the world around us.
By taking responsibility for our past, it means that our present and future are within our control.
Once we take responsibility for our past we begin the process of stepping into our true power – CHOICE! We choose the thoughts we want to think. When an old habitual pattern of thinking comes up, we choose again. We don’t beat ourselves up because we are not our thoughts. We are each the thinker. We recognize an old pattern, aware that it is not in alignment with who we desire to be, and then choose an alternate. What is the best possible way I can think about, or look at, this situation or person? Choose that.
One of the greatest gifts meditation has given me is the greater ability to respond versus react. Take a breath (or 3!) and choose. In meditation, in the quiet, we become aware of old programs that we downloaded into our subconscious. Once aware, we can begin the process of deleting them, and creating new programs consciously.
As we move along the path to Self-love we can get caught up in past words, thoughts and deeds. We ask why?!?!? Why do I act this way? Why did I make that choice? Stop. It is not actually as relevant as your ego wants you to believe. It is a trick to keep you in the past, rather than creating your future.
That is what makes this step so vital. Forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive the person you have been. It doesn’t matter why. You did the best you could with what you had at that time. This moment is the only one that counts now. Don’t give up on yourself, forgive yourself. Then, actively choose how you want to think and how you want to feel. You control your thoughts. You control your emotions. Forgive yourself so that you can see the true perfection that you are.
A relationship that is cultivated with patience, compassion, respect, and kindness naturally evolves into unconditional love.
What is Unconditional Love?
Unconditional love is a love without strings, expectations, judgements, or criticism. It doesn’t mean that mistakes don’t get made, but that we acknowledge them and learn so that we move forward with greater wisdom. We won’t always make the right choice, but we can make things right.
When we learn to love ourselves, the well of love that we draw from for others deepens. The more we love, the greater our capacity to love is.
The most beautiful realizations happen on the journey to Self-love. For one, we learn to see ourselves for who and what we really are which allows us to create healthy boundaries and relationships. For two, the work ripples out. When we learn to forgive ourselves and let go old hurts our loved ones and those around us reap the rewards as well. We teach others by doing.
When we learn to let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
The sun is always shining, even on a cloudy day. Don’t confuse the clouds as an absence of the sun. The light is always there, you just can’t see it.. Yet!
Let’s begin this journey together.
Brightest of Blessings,
Teacher, Guide, Student, Alchemist