Our first responsibility in life is to love ourselves. Once that foundation is laid, we are able to love others with intense clarity and perfection than we ever thought possible. I’ve found that if I’m in a calm, loving state inside, all my interactions with others are blissful, and I see them as the perfect beings they are. If I’m feeling annoyed, insecure, angry, frustrated, afraid or “off-center,” all my interactions with others are shadowed by my own fog, and I see them as “the cause of” my unhappiness, or at the very least, exacerbating it.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” —Aristotle
How to Love Yourself
1. Know that loving yourself is not selfish- it is the only way you can love others. We’ve all felt annoyed and stressed about having to take care of someone else while our own needs went unmet. “Loving” someone else without first loving ourselves isn’t actually loving them – it’s saddling them with the burden of our annoyance, bad mood, resentment and anger. Only when we’re in a state of peace and love with ourselves can we truly see clearly to love someone else.
“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” -Barbara De Angelis
2. Not loving yourself is ego. You’re essentially saying. “Others are worthy of my love, but I’m DIFFERENT. I’m SPECIAL. My human experience means I’m so much worse than every other person on the planet,” or “I am so special that I have to hold myself to a higher standard. What is okay for you is not okay for me.” That’s not humility (which acknowledges we are all equal,) it’s ego.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
3. When you withhold love from yourself, you withhold it from everyone. There is no separation as far as the universe is concerned:
“There is a simple formula you can use for the law of attraction that will stand you in good stead with every person, situation, and circumstance. As far as the law of attraction is concerned, there is only one person in the world – you!“
-Rhonda Byrne, The Power
“If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better.” -Kristin Chenoweth
When you have a hard time loving yourself, think of someone you love. Just as your children deserve love, your family members, your heroes and sheroes, you deserve that love from yourself, and you are truly withholding it from your most beloved if you are withholding it from yourself.
When you say, “This part of me is unlovable,” whether you admit it consciously or not, you are passing judgment on that part of everyone else. What you accept in yourself, you can accept in others. What you love in yourself, you can love in others.
4. Our memories are fallible. Our egos HATE to admit this, but study after study shows it’s true: what you remember is likely less than 40% true. So when you think, “I should’ve known better” you probably DIDN’T and COULD NOT HAVE. It is an act of self-love to accept that you were less wise than you are now. Stop thinking of what you could’ve done or what might’ve been. All you have is now.
5. What other people think of you is none of your business. Sometimes, it’s hard to love ourselves when we think someone else is looking down on us. But that is none of our business. We are all living our lives to the best of our abilities, and there is no reason to give thought to what another may think of our path.
6. What you think of you IS your business. Our thoughts are under our control, but often we don’t exercise that control. When you allow your mind to run wild with thoughts of self-loathing, you’re creating a life of incredible pain and unhappiness. We must start with ourselves, our own thoughts. Only then can we begin to look outward.
“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” -Byron Katie
7. You are the only person who can truly love you. When we expect others to love us more deeply than we love ourselves, we set ourselves up to resent them when they don’t. Only you can have deep compassion for yourself, because you are the only being you have control over. What glorious freedom to realize I don’t have to worry about how much someone else loves me or feels compassion for me – it’s MY job!
I can’t control how much you love me. I can’t control how much my husband loves me, or how much my children will love me. It’s none of my business. But I can truly love me. Miraculously, when I am in that state, I feel no lack of love from anyone else around me.
“Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.” -Byron Katie