“We need to love ourselves first, in all our glory and imperfections.
If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot open to our ability to love others.”
Love, Ah yes, that most elusive and most desired experience that all of us humans seem to want in this world. So why is it so difficult to attain it? Why is it such a misunderstood subject?
After working with people in private practice for the last 26 years in NYC, Boulder CO and Seattle I have come to see that love is the most misunderstood human experience. For most of us, we look for love in all the wrong places, mainly in other people: praying to find our beloved and live happily ever after.
The truth is, we will never be satisfied with another and their love offering until we are willing to love ourselves. When I explain this to my patients, I am almost always met with great resistance. I can see the pain in their hearts as they look at me and say, “Are you suggesting, Ellen, that I give up looking for my soul mate? Or worse, are you suggesting that I will never meet my soul mate?” No, I am not suggesting any of the above.
What I am suggesting is this: if you want to have a satisfying love experience and relationship, you must first fall in love with yourself. Treat yourself as you wish for another to treat you. I promise you, you will not become an egotistical maniac, nor will you become arrogant, an argument that many people use against loving themselves.
We become humble, when we truly begin to love ourselves. The process requires us to face ourselves completely. We see all the good, the bad, the ugly as well as the magnificence about ourselves. As we do this, we see the frailty of the human condition. We come to see ourselves and all others as the vulnerable beings we are. We experience compassion as we learn to love those things we once may have disliked or even hated about ourselves.
So, what is this thing we call self-love?
Have you ever watched, in wonder, a 6-month old baby as they roll about, chomping on their fingers and toes, giggling for no apparent reason, exploring all of themselves with deep fascination?
Imagine how you feel watching that sweet baby loving herself. In that moment, the baby hasn’t yet learned to judge herself. She is just busy “being” a beautiful speck of the universe, being love, and being amazing.”
Babies haven’t yet learned that there is something/anything wrong with them. They are pure. They are love. And they are you. Yes, this is the “you” we all were before we were taught that something/anything was wrong with us.
This beautiful being is still within you. It is the perfection of all that you are. This is your divine self. And whether you know it or not, that knowingness is always there within you. Pure, unadulterated love.
The truth is, the essence of us is pure, abiding love. We are the love we have been seeking.
How do we begin to learn how to remember who we are and learn to love ourselves? Depending upon where you are on your journey, some may begin by practicing treating themselves with kindness which can feel uncomfortable at the start. Start with something simple. A massage or manicure/pedicure or even time alone in the bathtub.
Others may need to start listening to their self-talk. Do you find that you are judgmental of yourself? Do you speak lovingly with yourself? Or, are you always the task-master? Do you speak and treat yourself as you imagine the perfect lover would treat you? What would you say to a child if you heard them speak to themselves using the words running around in your own head?
One caution: Be kind as you gain more self-awareness. Please, do this with deep compassion. Understand, that as we meet more layers of ourselves, we will naturally meet layers that we do not like about ourselves. Meet those aspects with compassion and understanding. Be patient and practice. As you heal your wounds you will naturally begin to love yourself and others with deeper authenticity.
Here are 5 ways to help you start loving yourself!
- Stand in front of the mirror and look into your beautiful eyes and say, “I love you (insert your name). You are an amazing woman (man) and I love and accept all of you. As you do this listen for the “disapproving voices” to come up in your mind challenging this statement. One example of such a voice would be, “Who are you kidding? You’re so fat, you’re not worth loving. You’re so angry, you don’t deserve to be loved. Or it might show up more like: “Oh my God, you’re so arrogant! ”Note: No matter what the “ugly voice” says, listen to it, take note and repeat, “(your name), I love you. You’re an amazing woman (man) and I love you. I love and accept all of you.”
- Repeat for at least 10 minutes, preferably 20 minutes. Write down your discoveries in a journal. Write about all the “ugly voices” that came up. Note how they made you feel. Take note of how it made you feel to say these loving things to yourself. Does it feel familiar? Unfamiliar? Scary? Awful? Sometimes, when we begin to love ourselves it feels awkward, scary, and basically not ok. This is because often we are going against everything we had been taught in our formative years. We are going against our tribal conditioning and this can feel very scary. Don’t worry, with practice, this will begin to get easier and eventually you will love it and yourself!
- Write a list of the things you don’t like about yourself. Include those things you’re are embarrassed about, wished you never did, are ashamed of, never want anyone to know about. Write about these experiences, offer amends to yourself and others. When you feel complete, burn the pieces of paper, cutting the chords of guilt, sadness and regret.
- Write a list of all your most amazing qualities/attributes. Ask your friends/spouse what they see as your best qualities. Keep the list handy and visible. Read it frequently, focusing and seeing yourself embodied by each quality.
- Each night before you drift off to sleep find 5 new things to love about yourself. It may be something as simple as, “I love the smile I gave the young grocery bagger today. I love that I am kind. I love myself. I love working on myself.”
Learn more about Ellen at www.ellennewhouse.com
Or email her at email@example.com