Learning how to love yourself is a key ingredient for happiness. Self love is at the very core of wellbeing, joy, self-empowerment, and our ability to enjoy the kind of life we want. Even if you had everything else in your life exactly the way you wanted it, you wouldn't be able to enjoy it if you weren't at peace with yourself.
Besides that, every relationship you ever have with
someone else exactly mirrors one or more aspects of the relationship you
have with yourself.
We are Pure Awareness, the field of Love everything appears in. Just as waves arise within an ocean, the experience of a body, thoughts, feelings, and all within our lives arise as vibrations within us, Awareness.
When we identify with being a separate wave rather than the entire ocean, we suffer. Inherent in believing we are separate is the feeling of lack and incompleteness. If we really believe all we are is a separate part – a composite of just our body, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, etc. – it is actually that belief of being separate that keeps us feeling disconnected from love.
To truly know how to love yourself, we just need to become aware that we are not just a separate part. As the wave is to the ocean, we are the wave, and we are also the entire ocean that the wave arises in.
You make think you need to LEARN how to love yourself, but actually the most direct way to love yourself is to turn your attention inward to
yourSelf, the Presence that you are that is simply here, and already IS love.
The following exercise is based on my understanding and practice of the Advaita Teachings of Rupert Spira and Ramana Maharshi.
This simple experience of knowing ourselves in this way is always here but our attention is usually directed away from ourSelf and is instead centered on thoughts, emotions, body sensations and circumstances.
This is like a body of water that has debris floating on the surface. The debris in this metaphor is made up of the thoughts, emotions, and perceptions of being a body. If we keep our attention on the debris we won't notice that we are the water. The rest of it is just stuff floating through.
However, even when our attention is on the thoughts, emotions, and identifications with being a body, the Presence that we are is still in the background of our attention. We are always here. Even if we don't know WHAT we are, we do know that we are here.
I recommend doing the exercise above at least once every day, and even better, several times a day! At first it is best to do it while you're just sitting quietly so you can learn to focus. Later, I invite you to do it while doing other things, like going for a walk or talking to a friend. Just check in with yourself and ask "Am I here?" And BE this you which is simply here.
This simple, present, Aliveness which is you already IS love. It is only when you identify with being the "debris floating on the surface" that you'll think you need to do something to learn how to love yourself, or have something added to you, such as having someone else love you to be complete.
As this Presence that we are, we occupy the same space with Love, God, with All That Is. We are One continuous energy field.
Awakening to the Truth of who we are and enlightenment are believed to be events that only happen to the special few, and that something is somehow added to us in the process. Instead, awakening is the simple shifting of attention from the debris to the water!
A good place to start learning how to love yourself, is to first be in allowance of whatever you are now experiencing, including how it feels to NOT love yourself.
After reading the previous sentence, you might be thinking, "What? I'm trying to get RID of these feelings." And yes, that is what we are generally conditioned to do. And THAT is the very problem. It is in fact the ONLY problem.
Ponder this for a moment:
It is actually the dividing off from uncomfortable energies within ourselves, such as anger or fear, by saying "I must release this" or "I don't want this" or "This is bad" that creates the suffering.
In truth, there is no place to release anything to. Us, Awareness is One infinite energy field. When we decline to try to separate from ourselves by trying to push a part of ourselves away by "releasing" it, we become aware of the Oneness we are and then we automatically experience that as a "release" from suffering.
By embracing whatever we are aware of within us, we begin to feel relief because we're no longer fighting with ourselves. Consequently, the mind / body / emotions integrate by themselves and peace is the result. What begins as a feeling of relief turns into peace and deepens into awareness of yourSelf as love. This is the best way to experience how to love yourself.
As you learn how to love yourself, there are layers to letting go of the habit of dividing from ourselves and creating suffering. I recommend doing this "Allowing The Sensation" exercise at least once a day. Just check in with yourself and notice if there is a subject that troubles you. Then as you think of the subject, notice the sensations that come up and work with those, as outlined above.
Most of us would be shocked if we could hear a tape recording of our inner dialogue. We would see just how many times a day we judge or criticize ourselves harshly. Sometimes we treat ourselves far worse than we could imagine treating someone else.
To learn how to love yourself, listen to how you talk to yourself. Do any of the following thoughts sound familiar?
At a deeper level, you might hear:
Lack of self love can also get projected out as:
Until we learn how to love ourselves, this is how we cripple ourselves so that we can’t move forward or go after the things we want.
Underlying this negative self talk can be long-held beliefs about yourself that aren’t based on reality. Sometimes we hear these thoughts in someone else’s voice – perhaps in the scolding voice of a parent.
A good step in learning how to love yourself is to periodically check in with yourself through the day and notice how you’re feeling – happy, alive and open? Closed and contracted? Neutral?
If you are feeling upset, trace back to when you first started feeling that way. Chances are really good that somewhere at that juncture you told yourself something negative about yourself and then invested that thought with belief.
What might first come to your awareness is a negative attitude or thought about someone else. However, if you look closer you’ll find that somewhere along the way the part that really got you feeling bad was a negative thought about yourself. It might have been guilt about the negative thought about someone else, or feelings of inadequacy.
This debilitating self-talk is a symptom that shows up chronically until you learn how to love yourself.
Let’s take a slight detour here for just a moment …
Years ago I studied the Voice Dialogue work of Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone. It was extremely powerful for me at the time. Voice Dialogue works with the many selves or sub-personalities that we all have within our psyche. Each of these different aspects of yourself has different wants, needs and beliefs than the other aspects.
In the Stone’s Voice Dialogue work you learn to identify these sub-personalities and then let them dialogue and find agreements with each other. This process is a great way to get started in learning how to love yourself, creating more self-understanding, acceptance, and harmony.
Let’s use this information to support YOU in building self esteem and self love.
Earlier in this article we talked about becoming aware of when you feel negativity and then looking back to find the point where you started feeling that way. In this process, to help you learn how to love yourself, you first look for the judgment thought you had about yourself. For example you might hear something like the ever-popular, “I’m a bad person.”
As you hear those words within, see if a picture comes to mind, or use your imagination to make one up. Can you see this aspect of yourself in your inner vision? You may get an indistinct glimpse of yourself at a younger age. Maybe as a toddler? A teenager?
Don’t worry if you don’t get a visual picture. Some people are visually oriented and some are more feeling, sensing, or hearing oriented.
You might feel a specific feeling sensation in your body or an emotion that floods in. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just notice whatever arises when you hear whatever the negative phrase is that you’re working on, which in this example is “I’m a bad person.”
Now, find another aspect of yourself who feels like a best friend to this self-judging aspect and who is eager to come forward. If he/she isn’t eager, that’s okay. Just ask inside for the best friend to come forward and if you are patient and sincere, that aspect will come into your awareness. This aspect of yourself already knows how to love yourself.
Don’t get discouraged if you don't become immediately aware of this part of yourself the first time you do this. For some of us, the flame of self love is so low that the positive voice inside is all but snuffed out. If this describes you, please be gentle with yourself. Don’t use this exercise to beat yourself up even more.
If you can’t find the aspect that already knows how to love yourself, then make one up. The imagination is a powerful tool that can be used for great healing. Just imagine a kind being who loves you unconditionally. Imagine or make up what that person would say to you if they heard you saying “I’m a bad person” to yourself. You might hear something like:
Stay with this dialogue for as long as you can. It may feel strange and uncomfortable at first because it is new. That’s okay, just stay with it. Really hear the response from the best friend aspect. Let the aspect of you who uttered “I’m a bad person” soak up the love and support. If you stay with it, you will find a noticeable increase in your self love.
Try doing the dialogue in writing. For some people that is easier.
You can also do a mini version of this as you go about your day and you become aware of slipping into negative self talk. Once you’ve identified the best friend aspect of yourself the first time it gets much easier to call it up again. Learning how to love yourself is like exercising a muscle you didn’t know you had. The more you do it, the stronger it gets.
Listen to your best friend aspect’s words of love and encouragement. Drink it in and indulge in the good feelings.
goal is to derail any kind of negative self talk as quickly as possible
by bringing in your best friend aspect. By learning how to love
yourself in this way you will train yourself into the experience of much greater harmony
If the multiple sub-personality idea bothers you, don’t worry. We ALL have a multitude of these aspects within our psyche that have developed out of our early life experiences. This process is a healthy and natural way to learn how to love yourself.
One of the common potholes of life that you may fall into on the road to learning how to love yourself is the old comparison trap. You know the one. “Sheesh, that person is way better than me.” Or it could flip into what appears to be high self esteem: “I’m much better than that person.” This is just the other side of the same coin. It can flip in either direction. Either way, staying with this stream of thought causes self-suffering.
No person is better or worse than another. We all have different growth workshops for this lifetime. Consequently, we all have different areas of mastery as well as different areas that are steep learning curves. As you learn how to love yourself, don't be fooled by how someone else appears.
So, while Betty Sue may have already mastered personal relationships, she hasn’t quite figured out how to open up to receiving abundance yet. And Bobby Lee is a multi-millionaire but can’t seem to get it together in his personal relationships.
If you find yourself falling into the comparison trap frequently, it would be a good idea to do a Voice Dialogue session on the subject. If it is chronically about not being as good as other people in some way, find the aspect within who feels that way and let them talk. Then find your best friend aspect and hear their loving response.
You can use this same technique if you find yourself chronically on the
other side of the coin: “I’m better than that person.” What you will
find is that the aspect who feels better than others is the same aspect
as the one who feels less than others. The stance of feeling better than
someone else is just a buffer to protect you from the wrenching
feelings of not good enough. What appears to be high self esteem is a
cover up for low self esteem.
Besides the many personal benefits YOU will experience from learning how to love yourself, there is a gift you’ll be giving to all of your fellow beings: you will be uplifting all of us.
Although we look like separate beings running around doing our individual things, we are One Being. If you could look at this plane of reality from a quantum physics perspective, you would see one continuous, contiguous energy field that includes our planet and everything on it, and the whole universe.
In other words, if someone saw you right now from that perspective, they’d see your body, the space between you and your computer, your computer, and everything else around you as one big ocean of energy. The area of energy perceived as “you” would be vibrating in a different way than your computer, but all of it would be one mass of energy.
So what is my point? As you learn how to love yourself, since we are all part of One big energy field, ALL of us are infused and uplifted by you as you learn self love.
So ... thank you for loving yourself!
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