How to love yourself is the most important question to answer in this lifetime.
In some ways, it’s the only question we ever ask. It’s behind everything else we go after or avoid. The drive towards love is our core mechanism. The mantra of our haunted parts is this, on repeat: How can I get love? How can I get love? How can I get love?
If you think that you need an external achievement, you may believe that achieving it will help you experience your own love and self-approval. Would you like yourself more, be nicer to yourself, esteem yourself more if you managed to get this specific objective done?
Would you give yourself the warm enthusiasm, recognition and support you need, if only you could first turn into someone better than the person you see looking back at you in the mirror now? Do you essentially say to yourself, I’d like to love you, but it would be so much easier if you were thinner, prettier, smarter, more talented, if you had a different personality, if you weren’t so needy?
That’s the curse and the trap of conditional loving. Conditional love is the old operating system we are evolving out of now. Conditional love is pure Pavlovian programming: do this and you get love. Don’t do that, or you’ll get no love. Love given as a reward for obeisance, withheld as punishment for going against the grain.
We go crazy for love. Like rats in the maze, we’ll turn this way or that way, all in the name of love. It’s because love is the true food for our beings, and without it we die, like plants that get no sunlight.
Learning to love the person in the mirror
If you’re struggling with how to love yourself, this isn’t your fault. You have been told since birth not to love yourself unless, in so many ways. And yet if you were to love yourself, you’d be free from everything that torments you, however, it does so. Addictions, compulsions, trauma, disorders – all of these crumple and disappear in the radiant, forgiving presence of your own true love for yourself.
Funnily enough, loving yourself begins, like everything else, just with the decision to do so. Followed by determination and grit. You decide to do it, and then you do it. You understand it will take a while to change your habits. You don’t give up, even though it’s hard. You figure it out, somehow, some way. You fight your way to love, like a sprout that breaks through concrete to get to the light, if you have to.
How to love the bad parts
Loving yourself means loving your “bad self”. The one that no one wanted around. The one that was shamed and blamed, the one you turned against because it got you in trouble. The one who did things the love-givers in our lives didn’t want us to do. The one we put in the closet a long time ago and cannot tolerate to be reminded of.
Get in touch with that part of you. She is everywhere, all around you, all the time, and within you, too. Your job in this lifetime is this: find a way to love her.
It can help to understand that you are the clay, not the shape the clay is in right now. All shadows are in terrible condition from being in the dark so long. We must take it on faith that when we give love to our shadows, only then will they be able to take on their true form. In their true form, they are beautiful gifts to us and our life purpose. Always.
Can we love ourselves when we’re in our shadow shapes, behaving and being the opposite of our chosen natures? Yes, we can. We must remember that these ugly things we see in ourselves come from wounding, and the defense postures we take to defend the wound.
When we encounter shade in ourselves – our devouring egos, our imperfections of character, the earthy realities of bodies – the challenge is to own that shade and to forgive it, to love it. Not because it deserves love – love cannot be deserved or undeserved, it just is, like the sun that shines on everything equally. We give our love to all parts no matter what, because love is what unbinds us from shadow forms.
Once we make the determination that we will love all parts of ourselves, even the bad parts, self-loving actions follow. Ripples of powerful, all-embracing love emanate from us like the circles of reverberation that follow a stone dropped into a pond.
Which means our own love will reflect back to us, too. Which means someday, when we look in the mirror, we will see somebody very, obviously lovable there, eyes shining back at us.