Perhaps the most important thing we can ever do for ourselves is to love and accept ourselves for who we are. A self-love deficit has never been shown to be beneficial to anyone. Not only will you put yourself in harmful situations, you will project your pain onto others.
But what do you have to do in order to love yourself?
I’ve explained how to do so in previous articles, listing to change the negative self-talk to positive, looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself and giving yourself the things you want.
I’ve done those things for myself and seen a change, so I would always advocate for those methods. But there’s more to this self-love stuff.
I’ll admit, it’s pretty difficult to love yourself if you despise who you are. You have to go against the notions you have about not being smart enough, attractive enough or good enough.
And yet, one would have to ask, “Who is doing the loving here?”
Because if you don’t love yourself, how can you love yourself? If you are a troublemaker, how can you keep yourself out of trouble? By definition you make trouble!
Alan Watts used to point out that people who seek spirituality to solve their issues aren’t capable of solving their issues because they are defined by their unresolved issues. If they didn’t have those issues, they wouldn’t think of themselves as problematic and they would never be spiritual seekers in the first place.
So with that said, how can someone who doesn’t love themselves try to love themselves? Perhaps they could fail their way to success, but the level of success would not be optimum.
I realize now that as good as the self-love practices are, what they are really doing is just quenching the ego’s thirst for trying to find error and to stoke fear. But that won’t stop the ego from doing what it does best in some other facet of life.
If you stop the ego in the self-image realm, it could come up again in the relationship arena or the finances space.
So overall, you as the egoic and fearful self cannot love yourself. If you are by definition egoic and fearful, how can you love yourself? Hell, in a state like this how can you love anyone else?
If your positive self-talk and affirmations of love are coming from a place of fear and trying to avoid being bad or wrong, then you’re not loving at all. You are still a fearful being, not a loving one.
But here’s the thing. There are moments where the ego subsides and we are being loving. It often happens at the sight of a newborn baby. You look at this little being without judgment. They are perfect exactly as they are. Even if a judgmental thought were to come up, it collapses under the weight of love.
Your loving state was spontaneous and natural. There wasn’t a thought which preceded the feeling of love. When in the ego state, there are always thoughts that then elicit a change in emotion, and those emotions are always negative. Have you ever noticed this?
This happens because the ego state isn’t natural, but being loving is. Love is who you really are because it is what you naturally do when the ego/mind is silent.
And this is why you don’t need to love yourself. You already are love and you’ve always been. But if you predominantly live through your ego and therefore fear, it’s natural to forget who you really are. You will start to think that you are your ego, your fears, judgments and problems.
But in reality, you are the space that welcomes and accepts what is, just as you would a newborn baby.
Having said that, the ego clearly has a ton of momentum which is why our attempts at self-love have to be consistent and strong in order to quench its desire to find problems.
But is there a way to knock the ego down at the kneecaps? Yes, there is.
If you look at what the ego needs for you to get triggered and to get stuck in negativity, you need to feel guilt. The ego-mind could yammer all day, but if you don’t feel a personal responsibility for what it is saying, you can’t lose yourself.
Examine the thoughts of the ego and you will realize that they are all about you being wrong, which means that you are bad, which means you need to change, which means you are going to stray from who you really are.
And who are you? Love. The space that welcomes and accepts what is. To do anything else is madness. No wonder we witness insanity on a daily basis from others and ourselves.
The sad thing is, this sounds too good to be true. We are so accustomed to inner strife that to not have any is unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable. So we opt to stay in the stress we know but hate.
But if you can see the insanity of keeping yourself guilty for things you haven’t done and for thoughts you didn’t choose to think, you can let go of guilt, let go of the notion you are wrong, let go of the idea that you are bad, stop thinking that you need to change and remain as the authentic you.
So no, you cannot love yourself. But all that is required to have self-love is to cut the guilt out of your life.