I hear people saying they want to practice self-love a lot lately.
It makes me wonder what the heck self-love even is.
How do we do it without being totally full of ourselves?
I mean, of course we love ourselves. We make money and we put it in our bank account. We feed ourselves our favorite foods and surround ourselves with our favorite things. We put photos of our faces and our accomplishments on the internet and wait for inevitable praise from our friends and family. We take the biggest and best looking piece of chocolate cake. We complain when things don’t go our way, even if it means our loss was someone else’s win.
Yuck. Thinking about it this way makes me feel like I don’t even want to practice self-love. After all, aren’t we told the key to happiness is dropping the ego? How can we love ourselves without perpetuating what already seems like a society of rampant egomania? I’m not exactly sure, but in order to understand self-love, I first decided to understand what love means to me.
So what exactly do I mean when I say “I love you” to another person?
When I love another, I’ve narrowed it down to meaning three key things:
1. It means I believe the person deserves whatever makes them feel blissful and grand.
If I say “I love you,” it means I want the person to be happy, comfortable and at peace with life. I wish for them everything their heart desires. I want them to flourish and thrive and to know they deserve oodles and oodles of whatever it is that makes them feel like supported and loved. I want them to take good care of themselves and to let others return the favor. I am happy and excited for them when their good times roll. When they win, I feel like I am winning too.
2. It means I want the person to be their most authentic self.
If I say “I love you”, it means I want that person to feel comfortable being completely real with me. Don’t be anyone else and don’t hold back. I want them to be genuine and not tell me what they think I want to hear. I want them to know that I will forgive when they are less than perfect and that I will be patient with them. Not only do I want them to expose their faults, I want them to realize how beautiful those faults are and to understand that having them only encourages growth. I want others to be the real deal, so I can learn from them and their unique perspective.
3. I want the person to know that they are pure love and that I plan to treat them as such.
If I say “I love you,” it means I want the person to know that operating on the vibration of love is not only best for those around them but for them too. I want them to be brave enough to put their love out there and on the line. I want them to give out and receive unconditional love wherever they go. And even when they aren’t acting loving, I will try to see the good. I will empathize with them and forgive their shortcomings without hesitation. I will be conscious of how my choices affect them and I will do my best not to cause them any harm.
Once I defined this love of another it helped me to see what loving myself might look like.
Do I believe I deserve all the things that make me feel blissful and grand?
Seems to me like if this were true I would only associate with the kindest and most loving people, I would eat the most nutritious foods and I would use only the most loving words when I described myself. It means that I would not feel guilty or undeserving when good things happened to me. I would feel proud and comfortable sharing my successes with others. I wouldn’t be afraid to shine. It means I would strive to be joyful and allow good things into my life.
Do I allow myself to be authentic when I am around others?
If this were true I would tell people how I really felt, good or bad. It means I would create things without fear that they weren’t good enough. It means I could relax and be me no matter the company. It means I would love myself and my mother enough to tell her how I really live my life. It means I wouldn’t need to worry or try so hard on a first date or a job interview. It means I can answer “How are you?” with “Not so great,” if that’s the truth of the matter. I can tell people what I need. It means I can be vulnerable. I can share the imperfections of my past with people without shame or fear of judgment. It means I free myself to just be and not judge myself.
Do I understand that I am pure love?
When I operate as pure love, I am gentle with the world and myself. I am as comfortable saying “I love you” to the mirror as I am to another person. I enjoy letting a stranger get the biggest piece of cake. I love giving out compliments as much as getting them. I want other people to have their point of view even if it’s different from mine. I recognize and acknowledge when someone else is right even if it means I am wrong.
I find ways for us both to win.
I listen to you even when you don’t listen to me. I keep my heart open and look for the lesson. I keep loving you even when I don’t like you. I keep loving myself even when I don’t like myself. I forgive the world and myself for all of our shortcomings.
As I imagine myself operating in these ways with these beliefs, I feel my heart expand and ego doesn’t actually come to mind at all.
Loving myself does not mean putting myself first; it means putting love first and when I do that my natural instinct is to love myself.
If I can unabashedly and unconditionally love myself, then I can be in highest vibration necessary for taking on the challenge of loving the whole wide world—and the world needs more of that.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Lealyn Poponi
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wikipedia / Public Domain