At some point in my marriage I came to realize that I was not able to let big expressions of love from my wife all the way in. I had a defensive wall within me that would subtly go up and create distance from her as she was generously sharing her joyous heart. It was not obvious on the outside, but I knew that she could feel it deep down as a rejection.
It’s not that I did not love my wife or enjoy her beautiful expressions of love, I just had some blocks to fully receiving and even giving my full love.
What I have come to understand is that my capacity to receive love is in direct relation to how fully I love and accept myself as I am now. Somewhere in my childhood I learned to believe and feel that I am not good enough or worthy of love. Books could be written about the how’s and whys of this and to me it does not really matter. I could blame my parents or our society, but that will not open loves gates.
About 15 years ago I had an inkling of how to do this self-love thing. I would embark on a courageous journey to fix myself. My quest would begin by taking workshops, reading lots of books, and learning brilliant techniques to repair the broken, ugly, and unfavorable parts of myself. Then, when I was fully fixed, healed, bright, shiny and perfect (essentially enlightened) I would be worthy of loving myself…. right?
Over time it became apparent that my self-love journey was not working. By approaching the goal of self-love from a context of trying to fix myself, I created a recipe for endless “fixing” and little self-love. I began to see that I had an unconscious belief that I could only love the parts of myself that were perfect, as if all the other stuff was simply unlovable. It took a few years to fully get this, but I learned that attempting personal perfection was like trying to summit Mt. Everest pulling a perfectionist behind on a sled.
What soon became clear is that if I chose not to love myself just the way I was, then I would never love myself. There would always be more “work” to do on myself, and it was time to wake up and see that I was worthy of love. This realization catalyzed a radical awakening within me. It started as minuscule droplets of love and acceptance, and then, I began to feel love within and towards myself.
From my personal journey, and through working with numerous clients around the world, I created a simple self-love recipe. This 5 Step Self-Love Recipe is a powerful process that walks you through a simple process of self-awareness, emotional literacy, acceptance, forgiveness, and commitment.
The self-love journey begins as an awareness practice. It is not possible to selectively love yourself, meaning to love only the favorable parts. Imagine expanding your awareness to fully see all parts of yourself: your shadow, judgments, regrets, fears, insecurities, as well as your courage, honesty, big heart, loyalty, and integrity. Your willingness to face and truly see all parts of yourself is often the most challenging but most potent first step towards self-love. It is easy to have a belief that you can only love the parts that you perceive as “worthy” of love. What is true is that every part of you is fully worthy of love. So start by being willing to fully face and see all parts of yourself.
I am willing to fully see all parts of myself.
- Welcoming your feelings
Once you have opened the door to facing all parts of yourself, emotions may begin to arise. One of the biggest ways you can block your ability to fully see yourself is by being afraid of feeling your feelings. The truth is, you cannot control when and which feelings emerge, yet you do have choice around how you respond to them. You may notice feelings such as fear, sadness, anger, resentment, or shame. How can it be ok to simply feel these feelings? It is important to remember that feelings do not last forever, they are waves that peak and release as they flow to completion. As your feelings organically arise, give them your presence, breathe with them, and take time to feel them to completion. If you do this you will notice greater depth of presence with yourself.
As I fully face all parts of myself, I welcome my feelings to flow easily and to completion.
The next phase of the self-love journey involves acceptance. Once you have fully faced yourself and allowed your feelings to flow, acceptance naturally emerges. Acceptance is awareness in its most grounded form. Through accepting yourself, (all the different and sometimes contradictory parts of yourself) you will deepen into a space of acknowledging reality as it is, without a need to change reality or hide from it.
I acknowledge and accept all parts of myself.
Start by asking yourself, “What have I been unwilling to forgive myself for?” Forgiveness is the act of inviting the light of your awareness and love to things you previously deemed unworthy of love. Forgiveness is not a mental experience, it is a somatic experience. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful steps in the self-love journey. When you shine the light of your compassionate awareness on anything, you initiate an alchemical process of radical transformation.
I am willing to forgive myself for….
- Commit to loving yourself, all parts of you
Through this process you may begin to experience the tiny seeds of self-love. Do not judge the amount of self-love you experience. Instead, take the time to appreciate what is here. Through your consistent loving attention you will inspire your self-love to grow. Once you begin to feel self-love, you may ask yourself, “how do I hold onto it?” You can’t. However, you can make a commitment to love all parts of yourself. At some point you may drift from your commitment. When you do, notice it and recommit. Just this simple act will change your inner and outer world.
I commit to loving myself
What is self-love?
Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept our limitations as well as our strengths, have less need to explain our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and experience fulfillment through our own efforts.
Self-love is one of the most awe-inspiring things in this Universe. It is born from our ability to fully see, feel, accept and forgive ourselves. Self-love is not a destination that we finally arrive at and say, “Wow, I am so happy I am here!” Instead, it is a life-long journey of deepening, growing and opening into.
Self-love hugely impacts every aspect of our lives. It influences who you pick for a mate, the image you project at work, and how you cope with the problems in your life. It is so important to your welfare that I want you to know how to bring more of it into your life.