Welcome back to a new month. We hope you enjoyed our voyage of discovery into the amazing world of crystals last month. This month we will be tackling an incredibly important and fascinating subject in our mental, physical and spiritual development and growth as individuals – that of self-love. We will look at defining self-love and its importance to our lives. We will also look at some of the impediments to successful self-love and how to overcome them, plus we will touch on some practical steps you can put in place to achieve a satisfactory level of self-love and finally we will look at self-love as a “way of life”, particularly as how it applies to “new thought” doctrines.
What is Self-Love?
Perhaps it’s best if we start by defining what self-love is NOT:
Self-love is NOT narcissism and self-love is NOT arrogance, NOR overbearing pride.
Self-love is analogous to self-care and many people prefer to use the term self-care precisely because of those negative connotations that are sometimes ascribed to the term, self-love. However, whatever you call it self-love can best be summed up in the following affirmation: “self-love is the understanding and belief that I am a unique human being with talents and abilities that nobody who has ever lived or will ever live, possesses. I am worthy of love, I am worthy of respect and I am the equal of any person, anywhere.”
That definition may sound a bit daunting to those of us who suffer from self-doubt or consider ourselves innately shy and reticent but trust me – “you are an incredible human being who is blessed and talented”. We all are, which is why self-love is important to our own self-esteem and beliefs.
If you have doubts – well, let’s just listen, for a minute, to some of the greatest leaders, teachers and visionaries who ever walked the earth and really absorb what they are saying about YOU:
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
Buddha (Leader of Buddhism)
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Lecturer, Essayist & Philosopher)
“If you don’t love yourself, nobody will. Not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self.”
Wayne Dyer (New Thought Author)
“Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You only have to come to it, to realise it.”
Osho Rajneesh (Indian Spiritual Leader)
“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.”
Maya Angelou (American poet, writer and activist)
For me, personally, the whole concept of self-love is perfectly encapsulated in a quote from Rhonda Byrne in her seminal work, The Secret:
“Treat yourself the way you want to be treated by others … love yourself and you will be loved.”
Why is Self-Love Important:
As each year passes, life it seems gets busier and busier. We live in the age of technology, of labour-saving devices, of instant communication and yet, somehow, we seem to have less and less time to devote to the most important thing in our lives – ourselves. How many of you reading this are nodding your heads, sagely and thinking, “yep, you got that right, for sure”. Whether it is our work, our partner, our children, our community groups, our commitments to others, we seem to have little or no ability to spend time with ourselves and more importantly, time to love and pamper ourselves.
Self-love, or self-care, if you prefer, is critical to our physical, mental and spiritual health and yet we invariably CHOOSE to put it at the bottom of our priority list. Why is that? Are we not important enough to put ourselves at the top of our priority list? The truth is – many of us think we are not and I’ll go into why that is so and how to overcome these impediments in our next blog on this topic, however, for now it is important to understand that we are the ones making the CHOICE to ignore our own needs for the needs of others – we are the ones who control our own lives and yet we choose not to and do so at our peril.
Even from the standpoint of putting others in our lives first, self-love is critical. How can we be effective and helpful to our employers, our family, our partner and everyone else in our life if we neglect our own health and well-being? Not taking care of ourselves leaves us depleted, ineffective and lacking energy. What good are we to others in that condition? When we are physically, mentally or spiritually exhausted we struggle to keep our relationships fresh, healthy and vibrant. Over time this will chip away at our self-esteem and confidence.
Simply put, self-love means accepting who you are, completely and fully, always aware that you are a unique, vibrant and special human being who has much to offer to the world. By treating yourself with kindness and respect, you truly will begin to grow, mature and develop that self-esteem and confidence you always dreamed of having. People with confidence and self-esteem don’t get given it by others, it comes from within – the power is inside of you.
What many people fail to grasp about self-love is that it isn’t just about “pampering” yourself – taking yourself out for a treat or giving yourself a bonus (although those are good things in their own right), no, self-love goes much deeper than the surface and deeper than those things of this world. Self-love encompasses what you think about yourself – your thoughts and beliefs about who you are and what you are. If you are continually complaining to yourself about your body shape, or comparing yourself, detrimentally, to others, you are not practicing self-love. When someone “burns” you with a nasty comment about your body, your looks, your intelligence, your work performance, or just your mere existence as a human being – it hurts, right? It damages you, right? Well it shouldn’t and here’s why: What anyone thinks or says about you is irrelevant – it’s just their opinion and you shouldn’t give a toss about what they think of you. The only thing that really matters is what you think of yourself.
“No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (American First Lady)
Loving yourself and believing in yourself doesn’t mean you will always feel positive about yourself. We all have self-doubts creeping in from time to time as that pernicious little gremlin in our heads (our ego) keeps reminding us of our past failures and our past beliefs. No, feeling temporarily angry, upset, or disappointed with yourself doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself anymore. I mean, you get angry with your children or your partner from time to time but do you stop loving them? Of course not! And the same applies to yourself. What we need to do is to cultivate an environment and a meticulous habit of loving ourselves.
The Mental-Health Benefits of Self-Love:
We live in a fast-paced world that often seems scary and out of control. It is so easy to allow ourselves to be sucked into the vortex of despair and fear that the events around us seem to be conspiring to create. Our mental health can suffer dramatically because of this – we only need to look at the suicide and attempted suicide rates worldwide to realise that, for many, this world has simply become too hard for them to cope with.
The World Health Organisation presents us with some incredibly sobering statistics: They estimate that approximately one million people commit suicide every single year – that’s a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds – horrifying, isn’t it? Worse, they predict that by 2020 it will be one death every 20 seconds.
- In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide.
- Suicide is now one of the top three leading cause of death for both sexes aged: 15-44.
- Suicide attempts are estimated at 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.
- Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all suicide cases.
As a world-wide society we are becoming sicker and the reason, to me, is fairly obvious: As a people, in the pursuit of some overarching societal expectations and goals, we have completely forgotten to love ourselves first and foremost and to follow our own dreams, goals and desires. Simply put – we’ve forgotten to “follow our bliss”. (Much more about this in later blogs)
Simple Practical Steps to Achieve Self-Love:
(I’ll go into this in much greater detail in Blog Three of this series, but for now, I’ll just give you some food for thought on how you can begin this journey to self-love).
- Say positive things to yourself (“I am unique – I am amazing”)
- Forgive yourself if you mess up (We all mess up – we shouldn’t unduly berate ourselves over it)
- Prioritize your own health and well-being (Put your own oxygen mask on first)
- Don’t let others take advantage of you (Your time is as precious as theirs)
- Don’t let people denigrate you (Don’t respond – just laugh and walk away)
- Spend time around positive, supportive people (You are the sum of your five best friends)
- Ask for help, if you need it (It’s not weak to ask for help – it’s strong)
- If you hurt someone – apologise (An apology is NEVER a sign of weakness)
- Let go of anger and never hold a grudge (Anger hurts you – never the person you are angry at!)
- Treat yourself occasionally (especially healthy treats – you deserve them!)
- Accept that you are not perfect and love yourself anyway
I’ll finish today with one of the best quotes I know to sum up this whole area of self-love, self-care, self-belief, and self-esteem. It’s a quote from Richard P Feynman, an American theoretical physicist who was part of the Manhattan Project which developed the first nuclear bomb.
“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”
Next week we will look, in much more depth, at the impediments to self-love. What stops us from achieving what I hope you will now agree is an important level – the ability to love ourselves, in all our uniqueness and all our flaws? You won’t want to miss that.
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Till Next Time I’m Sending: Peace and Light