Why all the talk about loving yourself? Because I firmly believe that until you learn to love yourself, you will always be limited in your ability to receive love from others and give love as well. Now I’m not talking about selfishness. And I’m not talking about narcissism either. Acting in selfish and narcissistic ways are not truly loving to one’s self. Spoiling the inner ‘brat’ that cries and whines and always wants it selfish little ways is not the path to growth, peace, love, joy, etc. So please don’t get confused as we talk about loving self.
I’m speaking of actual love. Pure love for yourself. The kind of love that is gracious and kind. The kind of love that reaches in and accepts you just the way you are. The kind of love that motivates us to become better people, not out of ‘shame’ or ‘should’ or ‘ought’… but out of kindness and compassion. The kind of love that extends second, third, and fourth changes (and in some cases 107th chances).
Many religious people (and I’m talking about several world religions) mistakenly believe that their faith calls them to dislike or even hate themselves. At the very least, they mistakenly believe that they must never think of themselves under any circumstances. However, I just don’t find that to be a sustainable faith. In fact, I believe that the more we love ourselves the more we are able to accept the love of the Divine. The more we love ourselves, the more we see our own value and worth. And the more we see our own value and worth, accepting love for ourselves, the more we are able to truly see the value and worth in others. And of course, the more we see the value and worth in others, the more we are able to give to them from a wealth that is Divine.
The other side of that is if you don’t love and accept yourself, it will be extremely difficult to receive love from others and even from the Divine. Why? Because if you aren’t actively loving yourself, you won’t feel like you are worth the love of the Divine. The coolest thing about God is that sometimes God breaks into our lives and allows us to actually feel Divine love. Often times, this is the only thing that can help us to shift our perspective on loving ourselves.
So how can you begin to actively love yourself more today? What are active ways that you show yourself that you love yourself? Is there a self-destructive habit that you are addicted to that you can give up? Is there a way you can affirm your health and thereby actively show yourself love? Are there thought patterns that need to be addressed? Is there an area of your life where you could apply some grace and stop beating yourself up? Could you forgive yourself for something you've done or taken the blame for? Could you just simply accept your body, just as it is?
It only takes the tiniest actions of self-love to start a bit of an avalanche. And that’s one chain reaction worth setting in motion.
Today I choose to love myself. I will extend myself grace and acceptance when otherwise I would normally choose criticism and shame. Today I will choose to make at least one decision that actively shows myself love.