One of the most vital aspects of maintaining physical and emotional health is developing a healthy appreciation and love for yourself. Loving yourself is as important as loving other people (many would say more important). Self love is unconditional.. It is an appreciation of you, with all of your strengths and your shortcomings.
I made an amazing discovery as an adult: All of my “bad behaviours” toward other people (my arrogance, entitlement, impatience) could be attributed to not loving myself, and the basic insecurity that a lack of self-love causes. After developing more appreciation and respect for myself I was surprised at how things that used to really irritate me no longer had any affect at all. I was so much nicer to others, even the rude ones, after developing self-love. I also noticed significantly greater stress-tolerance, and significantly improved health (all health problems are exacerbated by stress; many are caused by it).
“Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows by actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our shortcomings, have compassion for ourselves as a human being struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.” (Deborah Kohoshaba, Psy.D., Psychology Today, 2014.)
Developing self-love will transform your life. It starts with transforming your attitude toward yourself: Patience; forgiveness; recognition of strengths; acceptance of shortcomings (while working on them); and connecting with the realization that you were created by the source of all Love, and are living for a purpose.
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely” (Carl Jung). After becoming accustomed to the “new me” that emerged as self-love developed more fully, I am still shocked when I see an old bad attitude or behavior start to re-emerge. Then I remember the infinite wisdom of the great psychiatrist Carl Jung who reintroduced the world to the fact that all human beings have a dual nature at their core. We have the traits and tendencies that we like for the world to see, and we all also have a primitive survival mechanism that is fierce. Dr. Jung called this the “Shadow Self.” We all have a Shadow Self. We keep it hidden most of the time; then it emerges when we need it for survival, or merely when we feel somehow threatened. We are not supposed to be discouraged; just accept it and put it away until we really need it (like when a bear is about to eat you . . . I hate when that happens).
I believe that this quote from Victoria Moran regarding the nature of unconditional love, beautifully expresses the love that we need to have for ourselves: “To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they are blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful too. (Lit From Within: Tending to Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty, Harper San Francisco, 2001.)
Meditate today on the beauty of your soul.
On your many-faceted journey through life, whatever paths you take, may you be blessed by the constant companionship of Love.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D., August 31, 2016