I was at a party recently and mentioned to someone that I’m writing a book on Self Love. The guy I knew from way back rolled his eyes, but I kept going: ”I believe that everything in our life: our thoughts and experiences - our reality - is a result of the relationship we have with ourselves”. My acquaintance left for the hot dog stand soon after.
So, either A) Self Love is not very cool as a casual conversation topic or B) it’s really hard to grasp. Which means, we - as a culture - are not very friendly with the whole theme. It’s not something you nonchalantly converse about unless you’re gathered with ”spiritual” people or your therapist. Maybe not even then.
So what do I mean when I talk or write about self love? What is this ever-elusive roll-your-eyes-at -thing, really? (Actually only you can decide what it is to you - I believe it’s a private matter between your human self and your divine.) But allow me to indulge in some of my musings.
Does loving myself mean that I’ll take myself out for a dinner or to a spa or traveling because I’m worth it? Does it imply to certain actions or thinking?
There are so many views on Self Love. There’s the somewhat short canon of modern psychology and its view on the inner workings of human beings and then there are the age-old wisdom traditions. We have all these concepts of self trust and self compassion, healing our wounds and our traumas. We have yoga and we have Buddhism. We have methods and practices to become more of ourselves, more wholesome, more well being.
We become super juiced if someone suggests five steps or a program to self love (or something related - as in healing your... fill in the blank). We nod our heads in inspiration but more often than not we slip right back into our old ways of judging ourselves and talking bad behind our own backs. We end up trying even harder to be ”good” humans, trying to make it to the yoga more often and trying to control our anger or thoughts because we think losing our temper or thinking "bad" thoughts is somehow not very loving. We have all these preconceived notions on what behavior or inner landscapes equal for Self Love, and what don’t.
I think it is relevant to became aware of what self respect might look like (acting according to your truth, expressing your feelings instead of suppressing or numbing them, deeply listening to yourself = taking responsibility for your life) but not making any particular action or thought a measure of your Self Love. For if you do, how on earth will you ever be able to attain those lofty ideals, as long as you’re in human form?
Many people will certainly try to do that. Hell, I’ve tried to do that. I’ve been studying Self Love like a Self Love Nerd trying so hard to reach wholeness and healing. For a long while I believed that loving myself meant that I wouldn’t feel anxiety or that I knew what the hell I was doing or that I’d just have it all figured out according to the standards of my limited human mind/condition. I thought it was some ecstatic spiritual state. I thought self love was something specific and that I would know exactly what as soon as I’d reach ”there” "completely".
Then I realized there is no ”there”. It's all here.
So many times all those wonderful lists on what we should do in order to love ourselves exclude things. Like don't judge yourself. But what if some judging thought passes through my mind? Or if I fail to say NO to someone? Does it mean that I miserably fail in loving myself before I even get to cross some magical line? Isn’t that an oxymoron in itself? What about real wholeness? Not leaving anything out, not even our darkest dark? Could that be included in the sphere of our wholeness instead of trying to get rid or fix something in order to "become" whole?
Loving yourself is not about any specific action or thought. It is about consciousness. It is about giving my human self a break. Not trying to fix it, mend it or change it. It’s about letting it have its darknesses and its lights. And at the same time feeling this quiet, old-as-cosmos peacefulness. They can go hand in hand. It's about removing our judgment on what the self loving human should or should not look or be like. This makes room for our expansive consciousness to be here with us.
When we just are with whatever we are feeling or experiencing, we can sense this awareness within and hear the human. It’s the meeting of the so-called imperfect human and the eternal: our consciousness, our existence. Not trying to make the human holy (for the divine doesn’t care whether we’re addicts, loners or the talk of the town - it doesn’t have any conditions for us).
I get to experience Self Love without changing one bit, without becoming ”healed” or better. As I don’t expect change or perfection, I naturally gravitate toward respectful attitude towards myself and others. I don’t have anything to judge, as I don’t come from the place of judging anything within me as particularly preferable over something else. Self Love isn't any particular feelings or states of being. But I would describe it as an ease with myself, even in my uneasiness. An okayness. (And yes, sometimes ecstasy and deep joy).
Ah, how we would like someone else, like god or cosmos or our parents or a guru, to decide whether we are worth loving. If only we’d master our kundalini or bad thoughts. If we’d just get this or that part of ourselves together.
But it doesn’t work like that. Self love doesn’t have any conditions as our divine simply doesn't care about our humane "imperfections" - it’s not a chase or a race. It’s not a ”when” or ”if”. As human beings we are masters of perceptions, well-crystallized, conditioned thought patterns = judgements. But that doesn’t mean that our perceptions are true. For better or worse, Consciousness/Divine/Love/Whatever You Want To Call It, is not a perception. It just is. Can we just allow that to be with us?