Self-love is central to an empowered life. How often have you sat with yourself, felt into your heart and said –
I love you. I am listening.
How different would we feel about ourselves if we did this for 5 minutes every day? We were never taught to practise self-love, but I highly recommend you bring this into your meditation practice.
The Buddhist practice of Maitri is the practice of unconditional love and compassion towards self. Now, more than any other time in history, we need to be practising self-compassion, because as we wake up, as we become more conscious, we may find ourselves being judgemental of our not-so-perfect self.
As women, we are usually pretty good at giving love and encouragement to others, but we overlook ourselves. We’re very good at being willing to overlook or forgive other people’s shortcomings, but how often do we do this for ourselves? Everyone of us in this room tonight will be somewhere along the path to fully loving ourselves. We may say on a logical level that we love and value ourselves, we may know what we probably need to do to love and value ourselves more, and yet that self-critical, self-judging voice can still prevail in our heads, telling us that we should be achieving more, should be this or that. Our inner critic takes up where our critical parents left off.
When we first begin to wake up and become more aware of how we are thinking and feeling about ourselves, we can make it even worse by thinking “I’m a spiritual being. I shouldn’t be talking to myself in this way. I shouldn’t be feeling this way about myself”. And so shame is piled upon the original shame.
The key to truly loving yourself is accepting EVERYTHING that you think and feel, and choosing to love yourself unconditionally even if you know you are thinking something unloving or feeling unworthy.
Even though I feel like a failure, I love and approve of myself completely and uncondtionally.
Even though I’m being harsh and critical towards myself, I love and approve of myself completely and unconditionally.
Even though I know I shouldn’t feel this way, I love and approve of myself completely and unconditionally.
Love and acceptance are always the first step in healing. I say in A Shift to Bliss that the paradox to loving yourself is this:
We must be willing to grow and expand and to become more, and at the same time know in this very moment we are enough.
So this brings me to the Shadow Self. Your shadow is all the unclaimed, denied, repressed parts of you that you hide or are in denial of, because you were made to feel ashamed of them when you were growing up. Certain shadow parts have been programmed into you since birth, because we inherit our parents’ repression imprints. What your parents repressed, you will unconsciously repress until you wake up and become conscious. Most of us have learned that as women, it’s uncool to be angry or to have a high sex drive.
We all have an inner bitch, a greedy child, a selfish person, a needy person, a slut, an angry person, a loner, and many other archetypes living within us. If we want to become whole, we need to pull these parts of ourselves out of the dark, dusty attic and bring them into the light, and not only this, we need to LOVE AND ACCEPT THEM! Because every part of us is here for a purpose. When we own these parts of self and integrate these parts of ourselves, we become whole, we heal because we have accepted ourselves fully. We can then use these parts of self for positive purposes. This is true transformation.
- The bitch then becomes our protector.
- The greedy child makes sure we have our share
- The selfish person ensures we get time for self-care
- The needy child transforms into the connector
- The slut becomes the sensual Goddess
- The angry person becomes the assertive person
- The loner connects us with our Source through time out alone and meditation.
If we don’t own these parts of self, we continue to carry shame, which is a feeling and a belief that we are intrinsically wrong and lacking, and shame gets us nowhere
I was listening to a lady who channels angels. She said “You have no idea just how magnificent every human being is. That is how the Angels see us”. That is what we are here to become. Magnificent.
Our ego mind tricks us into thinking that we cannot be magnificent with all our human faults. The True Self knows we are already magnificent, we just don’t know it because of all the layers of human conditioning and wounding that hides it from us. Know that you are already magnificent! The ego mind will trick us into thinking that “once I get rid of my faults, I will be magnificent”. Forget it! The ego thinks that through forcefully denying, repressing and pushing the shadow away we will become magnificent, when the opposite is true. Through accepting and loving and integrating every so-called faulty part of ourselves, we will know our magnificence.
You have NOTHING to be ashamed of. No matter what you have done, what you have thought, what mistakes you have made, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Every experience teaches us something. Let go of shame. Shame can show itself in the following ways:
- Self blame and self criticism
- Poor body image
- A poor relationship with food or other substances
- Berating ourselves if we’re not achieving or if things go wrong
- Undervaluing ourselves
- Putting on a false mask to the outside world
- The need to appear perfect
- Justifying ourselves
- The need to please others at cost to self
- Putting up with poor treatment
- The need to gain love and approval from the the outside (because there’s not enough inside of us).
As women, we have been conditioned to be martyrs – putting everyone before ourselves. It no longer works. All it creates is resentment of self and others. Of course there are times when we must sacrifice our own needs for others, but these are times of emergency, not a life pattern, a way of being.
Every person who comes into your life is a mirror of something you believe about yourself. That’s what relationships are about. They’re a mirror. They are always about you. The ego wants to make a relationship problem about the other person, but if we choose to see things consciously, we realise they are in our lives to reflect back to us something we must heal in ourselves. Your partner isn’t here to make you happy; they’re here to make you conscious. And so is everybody else! And no matter what we are experiencing, we must learn to meet ourselves with compassion, mercy, grace.
Self-love and self-worth go hand-in-hand. If we genuinely love ourselves, we want what is best for ourselves. We intrinsically know that we are worthy. Our parents didn’t teach us this because they weren’t taught this. We are probably the first generation to become aware of the value of self-love and self-worth.
The truth is that we are perfect the way we are, always have been and always will be. Of course, as spiritual beings living a human life, we will appear as less than perfect; but from a spiritual point of view, our perfection lies in our very imperfection. Without our seeming imperfections, the game of life would not function. We are living our destiny exactly as was agreed before our incarnation, which means we are just as worthy of God’s Love and, therefore, our own Love, as is anyone else. Self-love creates self-worth, and self-worth creates self-love.
But here’s another way to practice developing love for yourself— love others as enthusiastically as you can. It is often said that you cannot love others if you haven’t first found love for yourself. I disagree. When you focus on giving love to others, it is impossible not to feel good about yourself. It is heart-warming to give love and the love gets mirrored back to you. If you turn only inwards to find love for yourself, you meet up with all the characters that live in your head who feel it is their duty to deny you love. Start by seeing the perfection in everyone around you, and let that perfection shine the light on your own unique perfection. Love can only produce Love. Whenever we are loving someone, or something, we are always loving ourselves
Here are some practical ways to align with loving yourself and valuing yourself:
- Say to yourself in the mirror every day “I love you and you are valuable.”
- Make time just for you to do things you enjoy.
- Give love to others (but put yourself first).
- If you’re feeling hurt or negative in any way,say “Even though I feel _______________ I love and approve of myself completely and unconditionally.”
- Commit to loving yourself no matter what!