It is nearly impossible to share love with others and your world if you do not fully love yourself.
Sure, I've heard this before and I whole-heartedly believe it.
It's super easy for me to love and feel at peace with myself after I've connected deeply with another person, helped out a stranger or was given a compliment.
At those times I feel warm, fuzzy and all aglow. I am proud walking around as me and these great feelings spill over as I easily appreciate the wondrousness of all around me.
Then there are those other moments. After I've snapped at my kids or my partner; when I look in the mirror and see flaws (or worse) in my reflection; and when I think, say or do something that literally makes me feel ashamed.
In times like these I clamp down, cave in, tighten up and the warmth and glow are quickly extinguished.
During those other moments, I feel about as far away from peace as can be.
Loving yourself and being at peace with who you are (all of it) is essential and required if you want to give to others and be of benefit to your community and world.
How many of us strive to truly love ourselves completely?
When you're in a place of self-love, your entire perspective of others and life is positively enhanced. You can more easily see and appreciate aspects of others and situations when you grant yourself complete love.
I think that loving yourself sometimes gets a bad rap. I know that there is a part of me that associates self-love with narcissism or being self-centered.
In actuality, those who are labeled vain, arrogant or narcissistic quite often feel hollow and lacking within.
When a person is truly at peace with him or herself, there is an underlying calm, assurance and confidence about the person. There is a sense of love that is present and even unconditional.
It is delightfully contagious.
Even when I set aside the negative associations that are linked to notions of self-love, it can still seem tricky to actually love myself no matter what.
To love yourself unconditionally does not mean that you are claiming to be perfect in the sense that you have no more room to grow, learn and improve.
We all have “bad” habits, “ugly” aspects or “embarrassing” traits. Let's just face it.
The key to learning to love yourself is to appreciate everything about you and who you are right now-- even the stuff you cringe about.
In fact, if you'd like to make a change in your life, noticing what you don't like and then loving yourself -- including the habit, trait or aspect-- is a first step to opening up to a new way of living.
As you become aware of what you don't like about yourself, pay close attention to what you do next.
If, as I have done in the past, you turn against yourself and rail on internally about how horrible it is that you are or do _________ , just stop right there.
Even if, at this moment, you can't love yourself for being judgmental, having the body you have or yelling at your kids, at the very least you can pause before you take yourself further down the road of self-loathing.
Set up peace talks between you and you.
This might mean that you start looking more deeply at this habit or tendency of yours that you do not like. Don't analyze or try to rationalize it.
Instead, feel into yourself and acknowledge that there is some purpose this aspect has served in your past or in the present.
There truly aren't any “bad” habits-- there are merely those that take us in a direction we want to go and those that take us to unwanted places. Sometimes the consequences are desired; other times they are detrimental or even dangerous.
And this can change over time.
What was once a useful, even necessary, skill for dealing with a set of circumstances may now be an obstacle to you reaching the goals you currently have.
As you attain a deeper understanding of your tendencies and acknowledge the ways that they might have served you in the past (or even the present), you can soften and begin to ease up on yourself.
You might decide that you are ready to make different choices and respond in a new way. Or you might decide to stay the same for now. Neither have to be done at the expense of self-love.
You don't have to castigate yourself in order to improve. In fact, from this ease-full and open place, you can usually glide into the change you want rather than battle yourself to get there.
It all comes down to love.