“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”
~ Robert Morley
When you love yourself, you will not be so influenced by outer criticism. With self-love, you can become open to feedback and will not be so devastated when it is negative. You can use everything that happens to you as information to help you grow. When you love yourself, you will become curious rather than alarmed about how other people see you.
A feeling of self-love will flourish when you become dedicated to inner stillness. Taking a break from your thoughts takes you out of your socially conditioned mind. When you are inwardly still, you will be free of the stories about what you have been told is "good" or "bad" about you. In stillness, you will "know" that you are utterly sufficient and worthy of love, just as you are.
Your Soul is a Stranger to Your Ego Mind
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
~ Derek Walcott
Who is this "stranger that has loved you all your life? This "stranger" is your soul. Your soul knows how to love you like no other. When you stop seeking love outside of yourself, we can touch into the love that has always been there.
Embracing Difficult Emotions
In order to be present enough to meet the soul that has loved you all of your life - you must face the emotions that arise when love on the outside seems to be missing. Richard Moss MD shares how to face difficult emotions:
"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 it 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.
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."
You might be giving your self-worth away to family, to friends, and to the norms of society. You might be look ing for others to love you whenever you cannot love yourself. Self-love is an inner practice that requires persistent attention to your unhealed emotional pain.
There have been emotional places in my body that have resisted my own love for decades. Self-love takes a great amount of persistent practice. Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn writes about how to practice persistent self-love in his book Beginning Your Love Revolution.
"This can be as simple as finding a comfortable place to sit and closing your eyes while your hand rests on the location of your uncomfortable feeling. As you gently breather your attention into the center of any feeling, simply repeat the following healing mantra, either silently or out loud:
"I love you." (Or, substitute a different loving statement that feels right for you.)
In a soft, supportive, and gentle tone, continue saying "I love you" like a lullaby that would sing to a child. The more playful you allow each "I love you" to be, the more your heart will open."