When we listen to our heart’s longing, we no longer need to chase, force, or struggle any longer.
The mind opens and the path of self-love unfolds.
When we feel worthy of who we are, the healing life-force energy of divine love flows freely and unconditionally.
If only we could accept and love ourselves for who we are, we would never feel abandoned or rejected again.
By doing so, we surrender to and honor our true nature with a deeper connection and understanding of who we are. This nurturing energy of compassion is the most intelligent, natural healer that we have access to.
It was not how I had envisaged my first night in Cusco, but it didn’t take long before I had a hunch of why I was there. Puma (my local guide) and I were looking for a suitable hotel for me to stay.
The narrow street from Plaza de Armas led up to another courtyard. As we climbed the many coble stairs, the shiny marble stones spoke the history of the ruins of the oldest Inca city in America—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The barmy night had a feeling of sharp, gentleness to it. “Slow down,” he said. “You are running away from me.” He reached for my arm and slowed me down.
We got to the courtyard and he implied that I sit down. I hesitated and looked up into the big tree overhanging the bench.
“The creator is in your heart,” he said while chewing the coca leaves. I smiled, looked down, and felt a bit embarrassed.
He then took my hand and moved it toward his mouth. His hand was warm. Trembling inside, I felt uneasy but safe.
About to kiss my hand, an unexpected change happened—he redirected the hand toward my lips. I felt relieved, yet kissing my own hand felt strange.
The moment stopped. Silence filled the gap.
Love yourself more, he said with his soft, kind voice.
Don’t only give love to others.
Walk slowly and take one step at a time.
Take time to remember you and give love to the self.
Then you make room for others, but first, you must give space to love yourself.
We left the plaza in silence and just before midnight I found a place to stay.
My mysterious guide, a Peruvian shaman who was taking me to some of the most sacred mountains (Apus) and Inca power places, had stirred something in me.
Although we had just met, he already knew me. I felt seen, heard, and understood. Puma was oozing gentleness with his whole being—it was contagious.
I had a sense of being guided by the presence of a sacred and silent voice—an inner knowing told me to listen.
I could feel goosebumps on my skin and on my whole body. Everything here felt and looked so different—even how I perceived love felt different.
It was another world at an altitude of 3,399 meters. I hadn’t noticed how dark it was, and I felt tired. I chuckled with amusement as I thought it would be an act of loving-kindness to get some rest. With a big sigh the sky lit up, and I felt the surging energy of love with the elements surrounding me.
I fell asleep thinking that maybe the altitude in the Andes would help me to focus on my breath and walk slowly.
The next morning, I woke up wondering if I had come to Peru to learn how to love myself.
What does it mean to love ourselves, anyway?
Often, we are our own worst enemy. When we talk about loving ourselves, it’s loaded with shame, guilt, or the fear of being egotistic or self-centered.
The Nice Girl Syndrome called Jenteloven in Norwegian thought us not to stick our head out or to think that we are anything special. Without awareness, it is easy to think negatively about ourselves: to deny, blame and put ourselves down. On a deeper level still, we may even be ashamed of who we are.
As part of my own self-discovery, I’ve come to understand that this is about denying our own essence of self because we feel unworthy of who we are.
Although, it’s not about being better than others, it’s believing that we are good enough as we are.
If we look at the definition of love, it is commonly defined as a strong and passionate feeling for someone.
For example, we know what love is when we have a deep affection for a child; feel loved by our parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and any other significant person; or when we are in love with our boyfriend, partner, or husband.
We also know what it feels like when we are not treated with loving-kindness by ourselves or others.
Love can be one of the greatest mysteries, joys, and miseries we are to experience during our lifetime.
If you’ve lost your faith in love—or love isn’t making you happy—you’re not alone. Even when we find love, it isn’t always as shiny, passionate, and fulfilling as it first was.
But what about love toward ourselves?
We know in our hearts what love is—most of us are craving it.
It’s not just a feeling for someone. It is an energetic life force that makes us breathe a certain way—to perceive a certain way—and to just be.
It is being worthy of who we are, yet we deny it.
Even though we act and treat other beings with love (kindness, respect, humility, trust, loyalty, and patience), it is much more difficult to treat ourselves with loving compassion.
Love is believing in ourselves and rejoicing in the beauty and power of who we are.
Without nurturing a loving relationship with ourselves, how can we realize divinity or love within ourselves?
A divine being is perfect with imperfections made up of the ego (I) illusionary mind.
Who has told us that we shouldn’t be kind and loving toward ourselves?
In the end, we must give ourselves permission to honor ourselves; this is exactly what the mysterious shaman did for me.
He gave me permission to listen to my heart’s longing for freedom to be who I am—that is love.
When we do this, we also do it for others, and we feel happier and more fulfilled in life. But not only that, when our inner longing speaks louder and more powerful than self-judgment, guilt, and fear, we know that there is no choice other than to move forward.
At that point of readiness, there is nothing to lose—nothing to risk.
Therefore, the greatest gift of love I can give myself is to honor and allow my free spirit the space to breathe and understand who I am.
For me, it happened at the beginning of a decade when I allowed myself to surrender to what is and followed my heart’s longing wherever it took me. I created a flow of harmony and joy in my life.
But who said it was going to be easy to change psychological paradigms and cut through the crap, as they say in Australia?
To do so, we must feel the craving for a deeper connection with ourselves and make a commitment to honor our true selves.
When we develop our own personal power to set boundaries, make tough decisions, say yes when we mean yes, and no when we mean no—it’s life-changing.
When we listen to our heart’s deepest desire, we learn to trust our inner knowing. Then our doubts will dissolve as soon as they appear. Step by step we feel more confident, and it becomes easier to cut through illusion or the crap.
What is your heart trying to tell you?
How can you honor yourself more with acts of self-love and give yourself permission to be true to yourself?
Take a moment to breathe in the feeling of loving-kindness toward yourself and others.
Ask yourself, what do I need most right now? Allow yourself the time to explore and let it come to you.
Ultimately it means to give yourself something that you need, like spending time in nature or simply saying no or yes to what is true for you. By nurturing ourselves with loving compassion, we take care of each other and reclaim our worthiness.
It is the most gentle form of protection and safety we can connect with at any time.
To touch ourselves (and others) with the softness of love, deep within our hearts.
Then we are loved—always.