We all have heard this phrase again and again in books, tv, articles, etc. “LOVE YOURSELF”. There are so many questions that come into our minds.
What it truly means to love yourself?
Are there any specific steps we can take to love ourselves?
In this article, we will go deeper into this and try to answer these questions. Let’s begin.
What is Self-Love?
First of all, I want to acknowledge that self-love can mean different things for different people. Some find love in exercising, some in their job, and some in that tasty chocolate and that is perfectly fine. On the other hand, self-love which I am talking about here has more to do with our internal world rather than the external world. A simple definition of self-love according to me is.
Self-love is one’s ability to befriend all the parts(good and bad) of themselves.
Befriending part of ourselves! What does it mean? let me explain it with an example.
“ There was a boy around 14 years old. He was a bright student, all his teachers loved him, all his friends loved him and few girls also loved him.😁 But there was just one problem sometimes when he gets very nervous he forget how to walk. Yes! You heard it right. He just forgets how to walk. Now as funny as it sounds it was a really big problem for him. Because whenever someone laughs at him for his waking style he felt very sad and it was personal for him.
He used to think is there something wrong with me? Why I always get nervous? How can I forget how to walk? He used to stand in front of a mirror and practice walking. Although everything else was good in his life, he spent his school life worrying about how to walk.😀 ”
Now you must be thinking who is that boy? and surprise, surprise that boy is me. It has been 10 years since I have finished school and I have learned how to walk(or maybe not 😁). But one thing has surely changed, I feel safe and very comfortable with it. I couldn't remember when the last time I was worried about my walking style. In a nutshell, I have accepted that part of me.
If you look closely, you will notice that we all have some part of ourselves that we don’t like or not willing to accept. Maybe that little pimple, or shape of our nose or how we look. These things are not under our control but we still spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about them.
You have to live with your mind for the rest of your life and if it is always criticizing and judging you for every little mistake, it can become impossible to enjoy life and experience happiness.
Self-Love and Growth
So now you know what is self-love there must many questions going through your mind. The question that I hear the most often is that if I start loving and accepting everything bad about me doesn’t it will stop my growth and I will never learn anything new and I will never improve.
What I believe is that you can force yourself to change, many people have done that but there is another way that is to love yourself to change.
Growth and improvement can also be fulfilling. You can plan for the future, work hard, learn from your mistake. All of it without beating yourself up.
When we are truly fulfilled from the inside then an amazing thing starts to happen, we start following our true passion. We feel less of an urge to show off or do things just to impress other people.
For example, if you want to become a writer and just for sake of status or money, you have chosen some other profession. Let’s say banking. Even though you can earn a lot of money from it. Maybe become successful at it as well but you will never feel fulfilled and that growth will always be incomplete.
I would say self-love plays a very crucial part when we have to make those big decisions in life. If you love and know yourself, you will make decisions that are good for you in the long term and will never choose something for just the sake of money or fame. That is the real growth.
So now we know all of the theory and why self-love is good for us, how we can practice it in our day-to-day life? There is a really good technique for this and it’s called Loving-Kindness or some people call it META.
It is a technique in which we practice all those good emotions like kindness, compassion, and empathy. The technique itself is very simple. In this we just make some good wishes starting with ourselves and then including the other people as well. When we do this continuously we automatically become more kind towards ourselves and others.
You must be thinking why include others? Why you can’t practice love only for yourself? The simple answer is that seeing others happy makes us automatically feel happy. I believe you must have experienced this as well, whenever you help someone and they feel happy because of you a feeling of fulfillment and happiness arise in you.
That’s why when we are practicing love for others, we are also practicing it for ourselves.
- Choose a comfortable posture. You can choose to sit or lay down.
- Put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- You can close your eyes if it feels comfortable.
- Now take a big deep breath and become aware of your surrounding and sounds.
- Take a moment to picture yourself. Your face, your voice, and how it feels to be you.
- Now you can send some wishes to yourself. You can send any wish that you would like or you can start with the following wishes. * May You be happy *May you be healthy * May you be safe
- When you send these wishes try feeling them. When you say “may I be happy” feel that wish coming to you and filling you with happiness. When you say “may I be safe” feel that wish making you safe and relaxed.
- You can repeat these wishes as many times as you wish.
- Now think about the person who is close to you(your mom, brother, or partner). Picture their face, their voice and send these wishes to them. “May you be happy”, “May you be healthy” and “may you be safe”
- Again try feeling every wish. When you say “May you be happy” imagine that wish going to that person and making them really happy.
- In the same way, you can do this practice for following people. * Close person * Neutral person(relatives, casual friends, colleagues, people you see daily like shopkeeper, neighbors, etc) * Difficult person * All beings
- In the end, think about a difficult person. Maybe they have harmed you in the past or maybe you two didn't have a very pleasing relationship. Sometimes it’s really difficult to wish good for them. Even thinking about them makes us feel uneasy and hurt.
- But if you look closely you will see that even that difficult person is also a human just like you and they have their fears and past. They are also struggling with this difficult life and trying to get through it.
- So even if we can’t wish good for them we will wish their suffering in this life may end. When their suffering will end the suffering of all the people around them will also reduce.
- So instead of saying those previous wishes, you can say the following. * May your suffering end. * May you become more loving(kind, honest whatever you feel will reduce their suffering)
- Finish the meditation by sending loving-kindness to all the beings around you the insects, mosquitoes, trees, animals, etc. Say “May you all be happy” “May you all be healthy” and “May you all be safe”.
In this article, we have learned about self-love and also why it is important for us and our growth. We have also learned about loving-kindness and how we can use it to develop more self-love. I hope you have found this article helpful and it will help you in your self-love journey.
If you wanna learn more about meditation you can check my previous article.
What is the Proper Way of Meditation?
I have done my first meditation in 2017 and it’s been 4 years since then. I will not say that I have meditated every…
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Thank you for reading. Take care!