Excerpt from forthcoming book:
Psychotherapy and Healing
Aligning Body, Mind and Soul with Self-Love, Mindfulness and Mindlessness
What is self-love? The best way to know if I grasp something is if I can teach it to someone else. It took me a while to understand how to do that with self-love. The first time I became aware of the concept of self-love was when a friend asked me to look into a mirror and tell myself: “I love you!” At the time, it felt extremely uncomfortable and trite. I did not feel tears or sadness. I did not feel that I did not love myself and needed to learn something. I was blind to what I was missing. I had a disconnect with self-love. But I knew how to love others. So I taught by example; by showing how I love the person who wanted to learn self-love from me. But it wasn’t enough because then people relied on me to feel loved, but not on themselves. I needed to use words to pass it on.
The second time I was hit by the concept of self-love was at a time when very little money was coming into my life. That led to a divorce, foreclosure and bankruptcy and not being able to live close to my son. I felt unsupported and scared and terribly lonely. I did not trust anything or anyone. I kept trying to create businesses without success. Not knowing where to turn for help, I did a labyrinth walk trying to get some clarity about my financial affairs. Before the walk the facilitator had us draw a card at random. Each card had a different word on it. We were to think deeply about what we wished an answer to and draw a card. The card I drew had the word LOVE on it. I did not understand. I needed money. I needed to be able to afford a roof over my head and pay for food and child support. I was crying for help inside. I did not know where to turn. And this is all the universe could give me, a card with the word LOVE on it?
Self-love is about learning to be true to our self no matter what others might say, or what others’ reactions might be. Self-love is about risking to tell one’s truth in a relationship even if it means potentially feeling or being rejected. Learning about self-love requires time alone outside of social pressures to learn what is natural and spontaneous to us, and also to learn what it is like to live with our self – with our mind and thoughts, and with our body – to learn to love who we are because no one else is there to love us. Self-love is learning to turn loneliness (fear) into aloneness (contentment).
Self-love can only happen if we let go completely of the need to be loved by others. That need is neediness and puts people off. They may shy away from us as a result. And that need limits love, consciously or unconsciously, to receiving only love in the way that we think we want, not in all its abundance and exuberant fragrances. Without self-love we control and constrict the way Life flows in us. We create lack and misery. By letting go of that need, we free others to love us, in their own ways, without expectations on how that should look like. In turn, we allow the world to give us infinitely more than we knew was possible.