When I tell people in my workshops that all problems in their life come from the lack of self-love, they all nod their heads knowingly. Yet, they don’t have a clear understanding of how insufficient self-love impacts their life directly, or how to change it.
Understanding that all problems in your life are the result of deficiencies in self-love is the first step in awareness, but it doesn’t answer the important question -- how do I love myself?
The Relationship Between You and Love
First it is important to understand the relationship between you and love. You are the creative manifestation of the Creator. You are creative consciousness. Creativity and love are synonymous.
What does it mean when you make a cake for someone and you say -- I did this with love? What is the difference between doing something with love, or without?
When you do something with love you are present: you are focused on what you are doing. You are connected: you connect your inner feelings and thoughts to what you are manifesting. You are also doing this in a way that is personal to you. You are putting your personal touch on what you are doing.
This is creativity. This is love.
What Gets in the Way of the Expression of Love?
Self-judgment is the biggest obstacle to self-love. How you see yourself will determine how you express yourself.
When your self-expression is inhibited by judgment you will hide aspects of yourself. This resistance is a resistance to your creative potential. It is a resistance to the authentic self. The aspects of yourself that you are resisting are inhibiting the complete expression of your authentic self.
This creative expression is the expression of love.
Here's how to see the external manifestation of how you feel about yourself:
1. Watch How You Interact with People
The Vedic texts say to speak with others as if you are talking with yourself. You are already doing this, just become conscious of it.
How you talk with others is just a reflection of how you speak with yourself internally. Being judgmental of others is an indication that you are judging yourself.
2. Become Aware of What You Tolerate
You obtain in life what you feel you deserve. You may “believe,” and even convince your conscious mind that you deserve nothing but the best in life, but your life says differently.
You obtain in life what you feel you deserve through your decisions. Your decisions show what you are tolerating.
For example, you may say that your job is “okay.” In fact, you may even make excuses why you are staying at your current job such as, the job market isn't good, or maybe my job will get better... What you are really saying is, this is what I deserve.
If you really believe that you deserve a better job, you would find one without any excuses. Why is it so difficult to ask for a raise? Because on some level you don’t feel you deserve it.
You can see this pattern in all your relationships. What are you tolerating in your life?
3. Become Aware of What You Are Supporting
If there is drama in your life, it is perpetuated by you! Many people don’t believe they deserve to be happy. Most people engage in behaviors that distract them.
What would you do with all the free time you would have if you dropped all the drama in your life?
4. Understand Your Resistance
We often think that discipline is the answer to solving all our problems: If I just had more discipline I would achieve all my dreams, you think.
What is discipline? Most people don’t think about it. They just condemn themselves for not having enough of it.
Simply put, discipline is a battle against a tendency. What is the tendency? You think it is controlling of will. Yet, have you ever considered when you need discipline and when you don’t?
Have you noticed that you never need discipline to do things that are bad for you? You only need discipline to do things that are good for you. Why is that? It is because the battle of discipline is really a proxy battle for self-love and understanding.
Contributing to the battle of discipline is the lack of understanding. You don’t really understand cause and effect. You don’t know the karma that you are causing for yourself.
Imagine a sidewalk that when you stepped off it you instantly received an electric shock. Would you need discipline to stay on the sidewalk? No, because you understand the relationship between cause and effect.
Once you are aware of the aspects of your life that are affected by the lack of self-love, the question then becomes how to love the self?
There are two aspects to cultivating self-love:
Self-judgment breeds separation and a resistance to self-expression. The internal self-judgment creates a duality that resists being present. Furthermore, it reduces self-expression as it removes aspects of the self; like removing colors from your pallet that you paint the picture of life with.
This is connecting to your external world only partially. The tendency then becomes to satisfy the left out feelings. This is done through living in the past or future, or indulging in behaviors that distract the attention and try to manage the feelings. All to distance the aspects of the self that you don’t love.
The work to be done is to accept the self, and not just the parts that you like. Also, don’t say, "I will like myself when I get this degree, job, relationship, lose weight, etc." This is not acceptance, this is conditional love.
I am talking about accepting everything right now! This isn’t saying that you are perfect or that there isn’t any room for improvement. This is saying that I accept this experience. This experience is not me, but just an experience.
Furthermore, self-expression comes just as much (if not more) from the aspects that you struggle with, than the ones that you celebrate and are proud of. Look at the best writers, teachers, artists, etc.. They typically write about, or teach the things that they struggled with. They become the experts in this because they accept it and they learn to understand it.
Moreover, acceptance creates the environment for understanding. You cannot understand something you judge. Understanding creates awareness of false identifications of the self. When they are made conscious and removed there is a deeper internal connection with the self. The reflection of this internal connection is the deeper expression of love.
Actions are the representation of self-love, not thoughts. Actions are the path to self-love. Every action should be a display of the love you have for yourself. For example, eat with love for the self, only consume healthy things. Every action should be done with the intention of being kind to yourself, showering yourself with love.
Create awareness of all your actions. Put love as the intention behind them. Then notice when you are acting without love.
God is love. Your capacity to accept what he created -- you -- is self-love. This is what creates unity with the Divine. When you achieve this unity, there is no resistance to self-expression. To let the Divine speak through you is the purpose of life. This is when you surrender to the will of God.
How do you find self-love? Share with us in the comments below!