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  • Resilient Practice

What is Self-Love?


“Love yourself and everything else will fall into line”

– Lucille Ball

 

What does it mean to truly love yourself?

 

We have resisted writing an article with this title in the past because it has an uncomfortable feel for both of us. Whenever we have dared to mention Self-love on our courses, we have either apologised for sounding ‘American’ or reframed it as Self-care, Self-worth, Self-acceptance or valuing the Self.

 

It is love and dressing it up as anything less creates compromise.

 

It is time to address the discomfort!

 

Why are we wise to cultivate Self-love?

 

Perhaps this is more easily addressed by examining what happens when we do not.

 

Our articles address many of the common obstacles that plague humankind in the modern world such as conflict, fear patterns, attachment, distorted thinking, contaminated communication, and anxiety.

 

In most cases it is the human propensity to add to or even create these obstacles for ourselves through fear - this being the fear of change, or the fear of loss of something which helps us to feel safe, for example, possessions, comfort, status, reputation, skills and meaningful relationships. Self-sabotaging behaviours such as responding to triggers, procrastination, complaining and focussing on the negative have the following effects:

 

  • negative affecting body chemistry, which is harmful to health.

  • manifesting negative outcomes which affirms the negative belief that things never go well for us Both of the above, are bound to stop us from moving forward therefore every single one of these behaviours is an act of Self-harm. 

Why exactly does the very simple and brilliant suggestion that we should cultivate love for the Self poke us? And does this not point towards a deep inability to do so which will in the end only cause us harm?

 

Let us explore this.

 

When we are young, we learn the lay of the land from those around us, particularly the ‘Elders of our tribe.’ We watch their behaviour and take in their counsel because they are survivors of the human experience. They know best. If we learn from them that something is to be avoided – we avoid it. It is programmed into our nature. Within the tribe, harmony is achieved by members taking accountability for their actions. This means that encouraging the ability to look at one’s own behaviour with humility. Humility is good within a tribe. It allows for diplomacy over conflict and following a hierarchy over fighting over who gets to rule. When we are young, we are at the bottom of the hierarchy and so we must be humble. Humility gains us approval which is the opposite of abandonment and all the motivation we need to practise it. Sadly, when humility is celebrated in children, the true skill can be misunderstood by them and turn to self-deprecation through fear of not being enough.

 

When we are small, if we are fortunate, we receive love from ‘Elders.’

 

Love is the opposite of abandonment and rejection which, to a child are synonymous with death. Love makes us safe. When we are loved we are accepted. When the love is unconditional, we are accepted through unconscious choice. We feel totally protected. Hardwired into us however is the fear that this protection could be taken away and worse still, as a result of our not being good enough to receive it. It is from these mechanisms of the psyche that our negative core beliefs are derived. These can drive our thoughts, influence our emotions, and spill out into our behaviours. The idea of maintaining humility can directly align with this but in a way that is harmful to us. We manifest our own world through what we think, feel, and do. We often manifest the very thing that we fear – if we allow fear to drive us through life.

 

If we were to be able to provide unconditional love for ourselves, without need of the external world, we would create a situation where it could never be taken away. If we can come to the realisation that we alone are responsible for our own spiritual wellbeing, and better yet, that we do indeed possess all the tools required to survive – our spirit would be imperishable.

 

Martha Beck, author of ‘The Way of Integrity’ tasked herself to live with complete authenticity for one year. It changed everything. She took up the challenge to release the need to ever tell a lie during that time. This meant not only giving the truth when asked for her opinion but not accepting dinner invitations when she was too tired or had no desire to go, not saying yes to favours she did not want to do and not giving platitudes to keep the peace. On the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, she explained that even putting a piece of food in your mouth that you don’t want to eat is a lie. She resisted it all and her whole world was transformed for the better.

 

We can paraphrase by suggesting that lying to the Self on all levels, or living inauthentically then, is an act of Self-harm. Anything that risks damaging our integrity, or wholeness is in violation of any agreement that we have made to ensure our own survival by engaging in Self-love.

 

 

Try this:

 

Set the intention to engage in Self-love.

 

As always move into the shoes of your Observer Self. This is your Witness. The part of you that notices your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours without doing the thinking, feeling and doing.

 

When you engage this part of yourself you will notice a subtle shoft in the body. An understanding that you are not your thoughts or emotions,

 

you are the awareness of them.

 

Set a reasonable time limit. Perhaps a 24 hours to a week.

 

Agree with yourself to gently witness your interactions throughout each day – without judgement or analysis at first – simply observe.

 

Do this exercise without effort. Rather apply a gentle curiosity.

 

Once you are comfortable with the idea of noticing what is going on for you in all situations, you may notice a slowing down in your responses. You may see that there is room in each situation

 

for wakeful choice. You may find that everything that you do is not, infact instinctual and automatic, but that you can press pause and choose.

 

Now you can gently cultivate the habit of asking ‘is this an act of Self-love?’

 

Before you agree to a dinner date, defensively respond to a rude comment, type a strongly worded email or eat a third piece of cake – you can ask this question gently of yourself and sit with what comes up for you.

 

How does your body feel when the answer is ‘no?’

 

How does your body feel when the answer is ‘yes?’

 

Remember – no judgement, because that is the road to Self-deprecation – which is an act of Self-harm.

 

This exercise is designed to simply raise your awareness.

 

When you become conscious of your automatic responses they are no longer automatic.

 

This alone is enough for now.

 

You are a divine miraculous creation of the Universe.

 

This is the way towards truly beginning to love the Self as you were always meant to do.

 

 

For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your human experience see our book:

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