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 the Buddhists. Self-compassion was emphasized often in Buddhist teachings and can lead us to the steps we need to take towards loving ourselves in a natural, organic and healthy way.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” Buddha
Loving ourselves unconditionally exactly the same way we love our children and pets is what we are striving for. Instead, we love ourselves with conditions. 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 of our self-compassion.
Why wait for the outside circumstances to change? Eckhart Tolle will tell us that if we “Get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” 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 giving and receiving love freely right now.
Lesson 1: Be nice
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care.” Buddha
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. Taking care of something we love will gain our attention more easily and we will devote more time than we would on something considered hopeless or unworthy, which is how we tend to think of ourselves.
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. There is always next time. Making friends with ourselves begins when we mentally speak with kindness and a gentle, light-hearted tone. Next time we 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 we 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”.
Lesson 2: Choose Love
“Don’t believe false doctrines. Don’t follow the way of the world. ” Buddha
According to Anita Moorjani’s book “Dying To Be Me”; choosing love it is the healthiest thing we could possibly do for ourselves. Her 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. In great detail, she describes how a near-death experience taught her that lack of self-love contributed to her illness. She states that illness is caused on an energetic level first where self-love resides and then the body follows. She baffled the medical establishment when after returning from the brink of death, she began to heal completely within days. Choose love always in all ways.
Lesson 3: Stop Comparing
“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate that which they already have.” Buddha
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 is suffering in some way from regrets, hurts, fears, doubts and problems as they present themselves. The only people free from worry are in the cemetery, under the ground.
As long as we are living, we will have some kind of suffering to deal with. The answer is to deal with it. Don’t repress it. Be mindful and surround any obstacles with love. Instead of separating ourselves 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.
Lesson 4: Use Affirmations
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace” Buddha
Louise Hay is another believer in the power of loving yourself for healing. In her book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, she recommends repeating positive phrases like a mantra and writing them down. Leaving affirmations on notes around our living and work spaces will feed our mind consciously and subconsciously, as it becomes a deep truth in time with repetition. She suggests that the affirmation “I Approve of Myself” cannot be repeated or thought too many times in a day. It is such a powerful affirmation along with “I Accept Myself Just as I Am”. A true Louise Hay test of our self-love growing is if we can look into the mirror and stare into our own eyes and tell ourselves, “I Love You”. Keep trying until you see an amazing person full of love looking back at you.
Lesson 5: Meditate
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without” Buddha
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 can carry with you at all times. We are already complete and enough just as we are. 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 our true selves!
Kathryn Remati is a certified Boston-based meditation teacher, writer, and creator of the popular Tranquil Spectrum meditation App for Apple devices. Kathryn completed a BA in Psychology and an MA Organizational Behavior in Australia.