Text: Jerry Brownstein
Knowing how to love yourself is at the very heart of your ability to create and enjoy the wonderful life that you desire. It is the foundation of the most important relationship that you will ever have – the one with yourself. The benefits of self love touch every part of your being – physical, mental and emotional. It gives you a sense of inner peace and self-assurance… a quiet confidence that keeps you centered so that you are not easily swayed by outside events and the opinions of others. It also creates a beautiful energy around you which attracts people and circumstances that mirror and enhance your positive feelings. Self love is not about being arrogant, selfish or egotistical… in fact it is just the opposite. The only way to truly feel love for yourself is to become really loveable. That means accepting the way you are… and then consciously choosing to change those things that are not in alignment with the beautiful person whom you wish to be. It is a process of un-learning negative habits from your past and replacing them with values and behaviors that make you feel good about yourself.
A great way to get this process started is to make a list of at least ten things that you like about yourself. Take some time to really look at who you are and how you act in the world. Your list of “I am _____” might include qualities such as intelligent, responsible, attractive, honest, compassionate, considerate, positive, thoughtful, affectionate, generous, etc.. When you have finished the list put it aside until the next day, and then take a fresh look at it. Think of how you would feel if you met someone who had all of the admirable qualities that are on your list. This is the kind of person you would really like to get to know… someone whose friendship you would cherish… and it’s you. That’s who you really are… and when you see it from this perspective you can more easily see that you are a person who deserves to be loved.
Of course there are other things about yourself that you are less happy with – negative characteristics like arrogance, anger, pessimism, etc.. These come from old patterns of belief that you have inherited from your family, friends and society. They were imprinted in your mind at an early age and have gotten more engrained in your personality over the years. The good news is that you have the ability to change these old inherited patterns. It is all a matter of choice – consciously choosing your thoughts, words and actions to reflect the person whom you wish to be. An excellent way to start making this change is by using the power of your intention to speak positively about yourself. Most people would be shocked if they could hear a tape recording of their inner dialogue – it is amazing how many times a day we judge or criticize ourselves. When you pay attention to your thoughts and words you may hear phrases like: “I never have any luck.” “Life is hard.” “I should have _____.” “I’m not good at _____.” At a deeper level what you are really saying is: “I don’t deserve to be happy.” “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I don’t deserve to have what I want.”
Everything that you think and say sends a message to your subconscious mind. When you voice negative thoughts you are reinforcing your old negative belief patterns, and reaffirming that you are not worthy of being loved. The way to turn this around is to become conscious of your thoughts and words… and then change whatever is not positive. When negative phrases pop into your head… or out of your mouth… just press your mental “delete button” and replace them with words that reflect the loveable person whom you choose to be. Consciously changing negative self-talk into positive affirmations about yourself and the world around you will create a new core of beneficial beliefs, and this will be reflected in the way you feel about yourself.
We often hear it said that until you learn to love yourself you will not be able to truly love others. Why is this so? Because until we come to terms with the parts of ourselves that are unlovable we will not feel worthy of being loved or giving love to other people. At the deepest level we project that we are not good enough, and the love that we give is colored by the fear that others will eventually discover this. Love that comes from such an insecure source will, by its very nature, be limited and fragile. When we learn to fully accept ourselves and love all aspects of who we are, the love that we give to others arises from a space of peace and compassion. This allows us to experience the giving and receiving of love as inseparable… and that is the essence of true happiness…
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha