The topic of self-love is often misunderstood. Some see it as vain and selfish, and if experienced through that lens it isn’t really self-love at all. It is an ego clone that misses the heart of the concept.
Authentic self-love is about learning to love yourself unconditionally, the way a “healthy” parent loves a child. It’s about forgiveness, self-nurturing, patience and understanding. It’s about being self-supportive and reaching for your dreams. It’s about bringing your unique gifts and style into the world. And, it’s about service.
How do you do it? To borrow from an overused analogy, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first: You unlearn bad programming, typically layered in in your youth, and you learn to become the “thing” or person you want others to be.
This “learning” became evident for me when my youngest child was three years old and I reckoned with the fact that I could not teach him, or his siblings, to be something I myself wasn’t. I also learned that I could not teach them values or a way of life, I myself had not lived, and therefore did not understand on an experiential level.
With that wisdom I started my journey of self-love. My first assignment was to look in the mirror and say I love you. But I was so angry at life that I couldn’t.So, I had to start my “self-love travels” with a sideways glance in the mirror glance and an affirmation that I was “willing” to love myself. Little did I know that with that I was on my way.
Along the way I learned that:
- I had to loosen the grip I had on old beliefs so new concepts could offer themselves up: in the form of insights, “ah ha’s,” and/or epiphanies.
- I had to stay mentally and emotionally flexible.
- A person desperately seeking to fill their own buckets lives through a bankrupt account and takes from others who have more in their buckets.
- The fuller my buckets were the more I had to give—and give, I did, in copious amounts. (Actually, the giving showed up naturally and unsolicited. I guess when your personal coffers are over-flowing you just want to share what you have with others).
- As I continued on my path of self-love, my confidence grew, and I experienced more peace.
- I learned that love is a self-refilling commodity, and that the more I spent it the more I had to give.
- I learned that to love myself is to trust myself, and the unfolding of my life.
Finally, and most importantly:
- I found that the more I loved myself, the more I came to know myself, and the beauty of mankind in their heart of hearts.
Here’s a 2-part tip to get YOU started on YOUR journey of self-love:
- STOP the negative self-talk!
- Learn to talk to yourself with kindness and respect.
Most of us have been conditioned to be unnecessarily harsh on ourselves. This behavior will never bring about any good, and over time it will erode your confidence and suck you deeper into anger, resentment and despair.
- Encourage yourself as you would a young child.
- Keep your internal chats upbeat and supportive.
Through the filters of self-love you can truly find yourself, be yourself, and fill the buckets of those in your circle of influence.