The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely
~ Carl Gustav Jung
How to love yourself is a difficult if not uncomfortable topic to speak about. Having grown up in a culture that is immersed in the Catholic and Protestant ideologies of self loathing in many ways, to talk about loving oneself is almost paramount to heresy.
Our religious histories have given us many benefits, of that I am not arguing. But having been raised in this culture which has been imbued with not only the frailty of man but also the overarching theme of this man fallen from grace. The sinner. As in we are all sinners and must implore our God (a vengeful God no less) for forgiveness before we are seen as worthy is very telling.
No wonder we find it easier to hate ourselves than to love ourselves. And perhaps it is no wonder that we see self love as some narcissistic tendency of the manic ego in each of us.
But my friends, this is not the case. For if you do not love yourself how can you honestly love anything at all.
Really, that is my pointed question to you. To explore how to love yourself let us first understand what we mean here about self love.
I am talking about a self love that is magnanimous and kind, honest and patient. If you’d like to continue on with our religious analogy and draw inspiration from our religious background and history then I speak of a love as was spoken in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 verses 4 to 7.
But before we get on to some of the practical advice I have to offer about how to learn to love yourself, there is one book I feel I should mention. Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds. If you are interested in actionable approaches to improving your life that often debunk the myths about that kind of “think and grow rich” pablum type crap that is out there then this is the book for you. Check it out.
Alright, so we’re talking about a kind, patient and non-judging love when we talk about self love. And this is important.
We’re not thinking about loving ourselves because we fell we are so much better than everyone else or because we are so much more important than anyone else or we view ourselves as demigods. No, we are talking about coming to love ourselves as a kind father loves his child.
To learn to love yourself is about learning acceptance. This is especially important if we have lived a misguided life and if we have in our past hurt others in whatever ways that might have been.
But acceptance is also important for all of us. Because we are – in my opinion – perfect souls living in imperfect bodies we make mistakes. None of us has lived a life as pure as the driven snow. I have lied and stolen when I was much younger. I am sure we all carry some battle scars and lumps from the things we’ve done that weren’t the best or most ethical thing to do at the time.
But acceptance is the first step to learning how to love ourselves. And a close next step is forgiveness.
We need to forgive ourselves for the trespasses we have committed but also for the trespasses that people have certainly committed against us. And very often we need to forgive those closest to us who meant well but might have erred in their duties.
Do not belabour the grievances you have committed or those you hold onto. Let them go. Each day is the opportunity to start anew. And each day brings with it the potential to start living your greatest life.
But we can only love ourselves if we come from a place of pure understanding and forgiveness.
So forgive yourself for all the errors real or imagined you think you might have committed and start out today on the rest of your journey called life with the intention of love as the focus in all of your dealings.
If you can take a moment before each action to think about the Golden Rule. To do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you will live a life full of love and spiritual riches. Not that we can achieve that every moment of every day. But that should be our goal.
When you have come to love yourself and treasure yourself as a unique individual who has something of value to offer the world, then you will act in accordance with the greater good.
When you learn to love yourself which comes from a place of treasuring your uniqueness and gift to this planet you will make this place better for your having been here. And if you start treating yourself as you would want others to treat you. That is, if you started to practice the Golden Rule with you that is an expression of self love.
And when you do to yourself as you would have others do to you, you will then mirror that out into the world. You will then find it easier to do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Love is patient and kind. And this body is but a vessel for the soul. And your soul being infinitely old should care for this body which is made up of mind and emotion too as you would care for a fragile broken bird that needs tending and mending.
To learn to forgive yourself time and time again for a harsh word, or an act without integrity is to learn to love yourself with the goal of doing better next time. Like a patient coach you should gently remind yourself of the transgression, then give yourself a hug and do better next time.
When you learn to love yourself like this you learn to love the world and its many parts. And then my friends, then you will come into your own and perform your greatest works that you have to offer to this planet and your fellow travellers who dwell here!