by Kathryn Remati, MA
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha
Self-love is vital for health and happiness. Love is a powerful, positive energy that is necessary for a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit. We cannot recognize love in others unless we have it for ourselves. It allows us something genuine to share with the world, and when you believe you are worthy, your life will reflect it.
The concept of self-love should not be confused with narcissism and selfishness. Rather, look to the ancient wisdom of Buddha, as highlighted in his words below. Self-compassion is emphasized in Buddhist teachings and can lead us to the steps we need to take toward loving ourselves in a natural and healthy way.
Loving ourselves unconditionally in the same way we love our children and pets is what we are striving for. However, most of us put conditions on our value. We expect to be happy with ourselves only when we get the job we want, or only after getting the house, or losing the weight for example. Then and only then do we feel worthy.
Why wait for the outside circumstances to change? Inside is where our love waits for us. Here are a few ways to fill our cup of self-love until it overflows, so we may be open to give and receive love freely right now.
Step 1: Be Nice
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care.”
An essential first step is to improve our self-talk and quiet the inner critic that judges and condemns our actions and feelings. We think we need to be tough on ourselves for motivation, but really the opposite is true.
A great way to begin the process of activating true self-care is to imagine how we speak to a friend who experiences failure or disappointment. We would encourage them and lift their spirits so they don’t take themselves so seriously. Making friends with ourselves begins when we mentally speak with kindness and a gentle, light-hearted tone. Next time you step on the scales or show up late to work, speak to yourself with kindness and no judgment. Use a term of endearment. Change that critical, mean inner voice to a warm, loving, expression of who you really are. This won’t happen overnight because we have been this way for years. We must try to love ourselves without exceptions and remember to be forgiving when the negative attributes like anger and envy appear. Love the negative parts and what we think of as faults too. Take advice from writer Elizabeth Gilbert who says, “Accept the glorious mess you are.”
Step 2: Be Authentic
“Don’t believe false doctrines. Don’t follow the way of the world.”
Choosing love it is the healthiest thing we could possibly do for ourselves. A love based theory for optimum health is the difference between living a life making decisions based on fear as opposed to your decisions coming from a place of love. Make decisions to do what feels right for you, and not out of fear of being rejected. We can be ourselves when we truly love ourselves. Choose love always, in all ways.
Step 3: Stop Comparing
“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate that which they already have.”
We have to put an end to comparing ourselves to others. This is the craziest thing we do because we may tell ourselves we are awful when there is always someone worse or better in any situation. The human family is flawed and the sooner we realize we may never reach our own tough standards for perfection, the sooner we can truly love ourselves as we are, flaws and all. Everyone suffers in some way from regrets, hurts, fears, doubts and problems.
As long as we are living, we will have some kind of suffering to deal with. The answer is to deal with it in honest, healthy ways. Don’t repress it. Be mindful and surround any obstacles with love. Instead of separating from others and feeling less than someone else, see the connection. When we look for similarities, they soon become obvious and love is more likely to appear.
Step 4: Use Affirmations
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”
Words have power. It is recommended to repeat positive phrases like a mantra and also to write them down. Leaving affirmations on notes around living and workspaces feeds the mind consciously and subconsciously, as it becomes a deep truth in time with repetition. Affirmation s like “I Approve of Myself” or “I Accept Myself Just as I Am” cannot be repeated or thought too many times in a day. A true test of growing self-love is to look into your own eyes in a mirror and say “I love you.” Keep trying until you see an amazing person full of love looking back at you.
Step 5: Meditate
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Will another pair of shoes, a new car, or a new job give you lasting peace? Real happiness is a state of being that you carry with you at all times. We are already complete and enough just as we are. Be grateful for the simple things in life. We spend so much time, money, and energy on the exterior part of our lives. Think about the resources that go into the upkeep of our physical body alone. We need to value our inner riches.
Meditate to dissolve the walls of disdain and open your heart space. Go within by meditating daily to bypass the labels, judgments, and fears, and touch that source of true happiness, peace, serenity, and yes, true love for your true self!
Kathryn Remati, MA created the popular Tranquil Me meditation App to help spread peace, one peaceful person at a time. She is a certified San Francisco based meditation teacher, health instructor for Kaiser Permanente, and writer. For more info about meditation classes and events go to: http://Tranquil-Me.com or follow her @TranquilMeApp.
(Photo: Graffiti Art by Banksy. Aliexpress.com)