In late 2014, after an exhausting year trying to successfully start my own business, I found myself pondering what I was truly seeking.
I’d kept myself so busy envisioning, creating and fearing this business and abrupt lifestyle change that many of my deepest desires remained dormant. Despite tireless months of development, mistakes, trials and fails I had learned a lot about the world of business, but was lacking something deep down within the core of my being.
Still in the throes of a recent long-term relationship breakup, my denial was ever present and my heart was continually torn between holding on and letting go.
One day, while on a walkabout, the answer to a nagging question finally surfaced.
What was my deepest motivation—what motivated me more than anything else?
A resounding answer from within immediately replied, “Love.”
Love—that’s it. My heart had been missing and longing for love. Career did not fill in the gap that only companionship could. I’d become well acquainted with the idea of platonic love and had put this concept into practice for several months.
Enamored by many women, still clinging to my past and making attempts at figuring out my own life offered me the perfect opportunity to start loving more—in all directions across time and space.
At first it seemed natural that it was indeed that right woman who I was after, that I ought to focus on finding a relationship. Over a short period of time though, I realized it had much less to do with another woman entering my life and so much more to do with loving myself instead.
More appropriately, loving myself first.
Throughout the next year or so, I made multiple alterations to my life that helped me discover more love for myself; rekindling a long lost romance with who I truly am. Oddly enough, the heartbreak, pain and suffering was what motivated me to both love myself more and overcome the turmoil and pain. As time went on, I found it far easier to love others as well.
Peace and calm were guiding forces in my life as I began to cultivate what I needed—from lack of what I’d been exposed to or had offered myself in the past.
Forgiveness of others and myself helped heal the many wounds that had begun to accumulate for years and years.
Realizations of past lovers, including this last relationship, opened pathways of love that I’d either forgotten or had yet to fully become aware of. I gained new insights about who these women truly were and how they each helped me transform into a better man.
Activities that aligned with good health were practiced often (like walking, cycling and hiking) and I finally gave up on the idea of meeting someone despite there always being attractive women around, ever tempting me.
Being humbled continuously by career and sacrifice, hard times and utmost failure, taught me humility and how frugal one can live while remaining truly happy. Forced into what most would consider abject poverty, this choice to remain steadfast on my path and away from fear branded me with appreciation, compassion and sympathy for others beyond what my pride and ego would have ever truly allowed in the past.
No matter how many times I fail in life, I know one thing is for certain:
Loving myself is paramount to any endeavor, choice or relationship I’ll ever take part in again.
I’ve found it so much easier to love others with patience, awareness and a broader understanding. No longer confined to limited beliefs, the world slowly began opening up to me in mysterious ways.
So many challenges lie before me, and many more will including failure and heartbreak, but I know that had I not begun the journey of rediscovering self-love, I would have continued suffering terribly. I would not have been capable of opening myself up to the plethora of opportunities that await us once we decide to shift the tides.
Remember, once a decision is made, the Universe will respond—but we must remain decisive and willing to make those yes or no choices that indicate clearly what we wish to experience. Pay attention. The Universe will deliver what resonates with us and it’s not up to us to know how.
For quite some time, even to this day, I’m tested. Opportunities to turn back and revert—to experience the old, unloving life I once knew including the people, places and things that came with it.
Letting go of what no longer serves and diving into the pain and torment have only liberated me from confinement. As I’ve begun the process of self-love—deep, abiding self-love—I have discovered the unique nature that each of us possesses within the construct of our souls. It’s much easier to look upon others and see the love they inherently possess as well.
When I look in the mirror, I no longer see myself the way I used to.
I’m easier on myself and my career path and am much more open to receiving that love I so desperately wanted (externally) in the not too distant past. Intense loneliness brought many tears and much sorrow, but ultimately, the forces that confined me would eventually part ways because I’d learned to love each aspect of myself—including my long-abandoned and neglected shadow side.
To believe that I am both good and evil seemed absurd after a while. Love is unconditional and unconditionally forgiving. I’d denied the unsavory aspects of myself for far too long. Finally coping with who I am on all levels and how my life had been acted out, it was easier to accept all aspects of myself. The mind chatter was left to the wayside and I slowly began to stop criticizing my self-worth and integrity as a human being.
By no means did life suddenly fix itself though.
No, I am still fully in charge of correcting past mistakes, learning from the many lessons presented to me and responsible for each moment of happiness, fear or suffering.
It became a matter of perception and attitude—simple adjustments and corrections that alleviate issues by nipping them in the bud. Regardless of how I’m feeling, I know now what must be done to lessen the heartache and illusions created in mind.
These are the fundamental approaches to self-love that I used and can be practiced at any time:
Reiki, or a similar healing art, helps restore balance to our chakras—which are the gateways to our soul and entire experience.
One-minute meditations help replenish calm states of relaxation.
Cooking, reading and walking are also great pastimes, which promote whole body health (physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually).
By altering my perception and attitude, I altered my reality. Finding new ways to cultivate love is the only way through. It’s the kind of medicine we need.
Author: Thayne Ulschmid
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Mayur Gala/Flickr