Self-love is a feeling of utter self-acceptance that is not influenced by what other people do or say. With self-love we are open to feedback, and we are no longer devastated by what people say to us. We become curious about how people see us. We use everything that happens to us as information to help us grow.
This bodily feeling of self-love stays with us when we are dedicated to seeing our life from a larger perspective. And yet it is often difficult to stay connected to a larger experience of life.
This connection to the larger life requires inner stillness and an unwavering connection to self-trust and self-acceptance regardless of outer circumstances. When we are inwardly still we can touch into a feeling of fullness and for maybe only a moment, we can know that we are loved and utterly sufficient, just as we are.Our Soul is a Stranger
Imagine a time when we meet ourselves, with elation, at the door, and invite ourselves in to become reacquainted with this "stranger
who has loved you all your life."
- Derek Walcott, Poet
How do we know and love who we are? Who is this stranger that has loved us all of our life? How do we know what our soul feels like? Thus "stranger" is the love that we always have inside of us, when we stop seeking love outside of ourselves. This stranger is our True and Authentic Self that loves us unconditionally.
The vast majority of human consciousness right now in the world is "me consciousness." In our "me" selves we are caught up in our various unfulfilled needs and are always looking for personal love and fulfillment from the outside. Often if we do not "get" love from the outside, we can feel devastated, even annihilated. We can live our "me consciousness" on a very broad level. We can actually appear quite self-loving even when we are not.
Our egos can become finely honed and yet we still may have no contact with the raw truth of our soul because we are still looking for people and circumstances to fulfill us. For instance we can have elaborate and interesting "spiritual egos" or opulent and "creative egos" and we still might not know the stranger - the all-encompassing soul and authentic self - that has loved us all of our life.
Difficult Feelings Take Us Out of Presence
It is one thing to say "be in the now" or "practice the power of presence" but to actually be stilled in our daily life is another thing altogether. In order to stay truly and deeply present - present enough to emerge into our spiritual wholeness and deepest self-love - until we meet the stranger that has loved us all of our life - we must face the "untamed" feelings that arise when the love on the outside seems to be missing. We must face the places in ourselves that do not feel loved. To find the stranger/authentic self that has loved us since before we have been born, we actually have to make the journey back through our stored pain, and through all of the places where we do not feel loved inside.
Our "stranger" is our soul self that lives and breathes unhurt and untarnished behind every difficulty and life challenge we have ever faced in our human existence. Consider that everytime you do not love a part of yourself, you will experience the same pain and agony - of the original separation away from that love - that you did as child. Richard Moss MD talks about the difference between tamed and untamed feelings. He writes:
"Very young children do not experience themselves as being in pain, rather all of reality will be pain.
Later in life, situations that represent a similar kind of threat have the potential to re-kindle these buried feelings and throw us into total emotional pain and chaos.
With a tamed emotion we readily recognize what we are feeling and usually believe we know why we are feeling it.
An untamed emotion so embeds us in the feeling that we cannot readily separate ourselves from it, even to name exactly what we are feeling.
We can have a sense of drowning, of dissolution, of devastation.
It seems like an abyss, a black hole that seems to suck us into oblivion. We may use words like dread, unnameable terror, annihilation and suffocation. The unnamed emotions amalgamate time and identity, creating a sense that they will go on forever, that this is all of who we are.
At the first sign of an untamed emotion, we activate ourselves into our survival personalities and divert into tamed emotions like anger or anxiety and assume the identity that is simultaneously generates.
It is far easier and far safer from the ego's point of view, far safer - to feel anger, or hate, hurt, or guilt, hope or fear than non-being (than the perception of not feeling loved).
The untamed emotions are the Now we are continually, unconsciously trying to avoid.
The untamed emotions are like guardians at the gateway to our wholeness. We must face our ultimate fears in order to develop a strong sense of self.
And when we have claimed that stronger sense of self, they become the guardians at the gate of self-transcendence into a higher level of ourselves.
Self-Love is Your Connection to Spirit
Our egos - our "survival selves" - protect us from the feeling of our lack of self-love. These protective parts are the selves that we formed to cope with the annihilation of not feeling loved when we were children. Yet paradoxically it is our survival personalities that stubbornly keep us in the emotional pattern that refuses the love that is here right now.
Self-love is an inner practice that requires consistent and persistent attention to the deeper presence that lives behind our pain. Self-worth is present to the degree that we feel the wholeness of our spiritual selves. When I began studying A Course in Miracles many years ago I wanted to live more consistently in my spiritual self. I was amazed to discover that when I was able to be deeply present to my divine nature, my self-doubt and my self-rejection would completely disappear for a time.
The more I sensed into what the ACIM daily lessons meant, the more I could see that we all really do have two selves. Our ego self has many parts that are ruled by fear, judgment, defense, guilt, and low self-worth. We can never feel loved in our personality defense system. Only our spiritually connected Self is inspired by love. The more separated we are from our Authentic Self spiritual essence - the more limited and lacking in self-love we feel - and the more we will try to manipulate and control the people and circumstances in our lives to try to get that love.
Our humanness is limited in love. We only love to the safe and protected level that reflects where we have felt hurt by the past. Our soul self is much more generous and trusting. Our soul swims in a sea of love. Tapping into our silent, spiritual self yields an enormous amount of power. Yet we give our self-worth away all of the time to family, to friends and even to the rules of society, when we look for others to love us where we cannot love ourselves.