The many faces of self-love are all beautiful. When it comes to offering yourself compassion, you can't overdo it. Our deep desire for love and acceptance is at the very core of our humanity. It is a beautiful craving that drives our desire for connection, belonging, and truth. This need is a primary reason you are seeking purpose in your life. So, why don't we give it to ourselves freely when we want it so desperately?
The short answer is that we have all sorts of mental stories and belief systems about why we shouldn't. Here are a few you may recognize:
- I may be hard on myself, but it is because I am so committed to my personal growth and achievement. I want to realize my greatest potential and sometimes whipping myself into shape creates the most change.
- If I don't keep driving myself, then I won't do anything. I'm afraid that if I'm nice to myself that I'll just become lazy and watch TV all day!
- I need to be strong and tough. I don't want to be too soft or sensitive. Being too gentle with myself will make me weak.
- Self-love sounds great, but I don't really know how to do it. This is how I've always been. It's how I was raised and I know that my parents treated themselves the same way.
Let's address these mental stories. First, one of the most important realizations you can have is that love has the power to create magnificent change. Most of us were trained as children with some negative reinforcement. While there is a natural place for this in raising kids, it's important to evolve past this stage. You don't need to yell at yourself to heal or grow. In fact, it's often the very thing that is holding you back from natural and effortless change. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and if you give it the chance, it will move mountains for you.
Second, self-compassion does not make you lazy or deplete your motivation. If you experience this initially, it may simply be because your body is tired and genuinely needs rest! After rejuvenating, you will see that self-love makes it more possible to follow what your heart is asking you to do. It will be like a laser that focuses you on important activities, and lets go of pursuits that are not in the highest interest of your soul.
Third, opening your heart does not make you weak. It makes you stronger. This is especially important for men to realize. Our definition of a powerful masculine energy must involve access to deep love and compassion. Self-love is not a feminine thing that men can gloss over. The desire to be fully seen and accepted is a core human pursuit, not a feminine one. When we berate ourselves internally, this greatly weakens our energy field and overall stamina. If we are battling our very heart, how can we access our fullest strength for making positive change in the world?
Fourth, believe in your ability to practice mindfulness and open to new ways of treating yourself. Most of us have picked up an external voice (i.e. from parents, modern media, etc) that reminds us of all the ways that we are not enough. This voice is simply the activity of the mind. It is your ego attempting to assert an identity, even if it is a painful identity. As we develop our consciousness, it becomes easier to distinguish between what is really you and what is simply a pattern of the mind.
When it comes to practicing self-love, the highest way in which you can offer it to yourself is by completely accepting whatever is already here in the moment. Self-love does not need to look like an emotional state where you experience some type of feeling that you label love. At the deepest level, offering yourself unconditional love looks like simply opening to who you already are. In each moment, you have the opportunity to graciously allow what is already here. You can accept all your imperfections and celebrate your human experience with all of its highs and lows. Self-love is the path toward radically opening over and over again until each moment shows its perfection regardless of whatever life offers you.