We have not been raised to love ourselves or the whole world.
As a child, whenever we did something “good” or “right”, we were praised or awarded by our parents. Likewise when we did something “wrong” or “bad”, we were reprimanded or punished. This has not changed even as we reached adulthood. Our boss became our parent, money became the means for praise or admonition.
We learned to recognize how an ideal partnership or partner looks like, and believe numbers and checklists more than our intuition. Magazines make us believe in unrealistic body beauty ideals which cause desperation and even hate for our own body.
We work so hard trying to fulfil all kinds of conditions to find love, that we never recognize: true love is unconditional. We are so blinded with looking on the further horizon trying to spot a sight of love, that we never saw: love has been right in front of us all along. We despair over finding the seeds of love from others, that we never realize: love must take roots within ourselves. And without self-love, we could never love anyone else sincerely and completely.
Yet what is self-love really? True self-love expresses itself through the conscious act of being kind to our body, mind and soul. It begins with feeding our body whole, nutrient-rich foods, the kind that is produced peacefully and without violence can not only maintain our body’s health but also heal it. A thriving, pain-free body makes it easier for warm, positive, healing emotions and thoughts to enter the mind. Only in a healthy body and peaceful mind can our soul feel at home, happy and loved.
Some will inevitably argue that some people love themselves too much, they put themselves over others. Well, the true nature of human beings is compassion and kindheartedness. Every soul came onto this Earth as a white, blank, unwritten book. Life’s circumstances wrote our story and caused us to take one or other personalities. True love stands at the intersection among all aspects that define a person. Both a lack or an alleged overdose of self-esteem is an indicator of little self-love. The attitude that is shown to others in an extreme way is never the true image of ourselves, as we try to hide something that is missing in our life. If we truthfully love ourselves, we don’t compete with others, are aware of our worth and the worth of others, and neither put ourselves below nor above others.
Most of us find it hard to think “I love myself”, let alone to say it out loud or even to believe it. Love begins with acceptance. It helps to embrace things as they are, as we cannot change them. That doesn’t mean that we should not give our best, but that we need to let go of the expectations, that something would change because of our hard work. Hard work might eventually lead to recognition, but not happiness or love.
To love ourselves means to accept our ‘self’, with all of our human imperfections. When we realize that all ambition is pointless and futile, as recognition doesn’t equal love, all pressure and expectations that we placed on ourselves and others lose their purpose and importance. If loving ourselves is still such a large obstacle, as neither our mind nor our heart believes in it, we can at least acknowledge the following truths:
- that human beings are subjective and will always have an opinion that is based on their own experiences and perceptions of reality
- that we have nothing to prove, to nobody, as we are already good enough, and need no validation from others in order to feel good in our own skin
- that we are perfect in the sum of our imperfections
- that each of us is unique in the whole universe, hence it’s completely meaningless to compete with someone else
- that we are already loved unconditionally without having to work so hard for it
If we repeat these facts often enough and start to really own up to them, we’re ready to welcome self-love.
The biggest wrong misconception that we’ve learned from our society is, that we have to ‘earn’ love, as if it were a trophy. Love is not earned, it is given. Unconditional self-love and love for others will come to us when we let go of the conditions which we attached to love. We have to stop chasing and instead just stand still, throw away our checklist of conditions, so that love has a chance to come to us.