“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”― Rumi
For a while I tried to get on board the self-love train. I tried really hard to love myself. Some days I felt like I was getting warmer. Other days…it was on the far side of the moon.
I considered myself a spiritual gal. A product of open minded, open hearted living. I practiced yoga. I meditated. I taught Reiki. I had regular clients. I believed in Angels. I believed in the power of Love with a capital L. Every where I turned, people with sincere faces and good intentions–be it on tv, in workshops, or even from the cover of magazines, would urge Love Yourself or If you Only Loved Yourself. Self-Love is the answer. I would pause and take it in without absorbing it. It sounded reasonable enough, after all.
But was it?
When I really considered it. It seemed a touch…sanctimonious. A buzz word or a cliche. After all, when did self-love become the one-size-fits-all panacea for all that ails the human condition? And how did people know that I (and everyone else) was so lacking in this formula? As a remedy, it was always a let down, so deeply anti-climactic. Like the shiny platitude “Everything happens for a reason” offered in the face of tragedy, possibly true but unsatisfying at best. It was a burger without the meat (or veggie patty). It left me cold as stone in the heart of winter. Only the stone was my heart. And when I thought about it further…it seemed like a paradox. Wasn’t Love something we sent out to others and received back again, like a heart shaped boomerang wrapped in warm and fuzzy sleeve? Wasn’t love reflected back at us from other people? So why spend the effort sending it to me when I was already filled up from other people? It all sounded a bit time consuming.
I had a life I cherished. A kind hearted husband who still chased me around the house and took me on dates after 20 years of marriage. I had a fun loving son who was the best bear hugger, ever. And more stuff than anyone needed. We took tropical vacations. I liked my job as lightworker and yoga teacher. I had friends who were authentic. I enjoyed loving and being loved. It wasn’t hiccup free, but each day held moments of sweetness. I did my best to treat others well. I could love other people, no problemo. I could shed tears with you and talk about empathy and see your good qualities. But self-love? The more I contemplated it, it gave me an icky taste in my mouth, kind of like that awful coating you get on your tongue when you are about to get cold.
And then one day, I caught myself doing it to a client, in a session. She was going through a challenging divorce. And she was understandably stuck. I felt a nudge and I heard myself say: “You just need to love yourself.” And the client looked back at me blankly. And so I said it more emphatically “You just NEED to love YOURSELF.” But she didn’t have hearing problems, as it turned out. We stared at each other. But I could hear her unspoken question loud and clear: How? And I realized I had no clue. And she left irritated and unsatisfied. And afterwards I looked in the mirror and I was honest. I asked: “How can I tell someone to Love Herself when I don’t love Myself?” Hypocrite much?
What happens when a concept is just that, a concept that leaves you empty…when it baffles, when eludes, or when it irritates? When people tell you what you need and, sure, it could be good. But you can’t really know until you find out. And to make matters worse it involves effort.
So how do you find it? Can you create it? Can you carve it out of soap stone? Is there a magic formula, a ritual, or a manual? Or, even better, a button to ignite your self-love engine?
No. Not really. In my experience, it takes patience. And honesty. And there is no one size fits all. But like all processes it can be rewarding. It can take you to a spectacular vista. It can take you to a view of You. And more than a view worth seeing. It is a view worth loving.
How To Discover Your Self-Love from Scratch
Asking and Answering
1. Get a new journal and sit in a quiet location (even if you know the answer to this question). Take a moment to be still and breath. Ask: Do I Love Myself? And write whatever pops into your head. Write with no judgement. The answer may or may not surprise you.
2. And then ask: Why? Again, write whatever comes up. This is not a test. And I won’t be marking it. So, be honest. Be honest. Be honest. Write for at least 5 minutes.
3. Light a candle. Choose a candle colour you love. Sit in front of the candle. Call on your guardian angels, guides, or any light beings you work with. I like to ask in Michael Archangel the angel of courage and Chamuel an angel who works with matters of the heart. Invite in your Higher Self to join you as well. Honour your own spiritual practice, though. Have your journal close to hand.
4. Watch the golden flame flicker in the candle. Observe it. Breathe easily. Close your eyes or have them softly open. Visualize the flame and let it move into your heart. Picture the question Do I love myself? inside the flame. And hold the question in your heart. Your heart will feel feel warm and expansive. Do I Love Myself? Feel any feelings and receive the answer.
5.If the answer was still no. You are not alone. Invite the energy of the golden flame into your heart again. Visualize breathing it in through your nose down into your heart. Visualize your heart expanding as you exhale. And this time ask: How do I Love myself? Be sure to draw the energy of the question into your heart. So this is less about thinking and more about feeling. Take your time and try shifting the emphasis of the words, and asking again and noticing how that feels.
6. Write the response. Now ask: What am I thankful for?
7. Write the response. Now ask: What do I thank MYSELF for?
8. Hold the energy of the golden flame in your heart and offer gratitude to yourself and any light beings present.
9. Repeat with this exercise patience.
10. Repeat some more with Love.
The Self-Love Challenge…
This is simple but deceptively powerful. This was a game changer for me.
Make a commitment for two weeks to ask yourself the following before every decision…
What would I do IF I loved myself?
It doesn’t matter how big or small the decision. For example, ask the question when you are choosing what to eat, what to buy at the store, what color socks to wear…just ask it. Over and over. What would I do if I loved myself?
And do whatever the answer is without second guessing.
Go with your intuition here. And nothing harmful please! Stay within your moral parameters. But Trust that whatever answer you get is the right answer. Trust that whatever you do leads you closer to self love. I first read about this challenge on Teal Swan’s Blog…and she recommends practicing it for a year, which is amazing. And I absolutely recommend that but I have tweaked it to say, start with 2 weeks. Because even 2 weeks can create a shift.
So what do you wind up with?
The interesting thing is at a certain point, the question itself becomes a mantra. It sinks into your skin. Because the question gives you the permission to feel it…
It sneaks up on you. That feeling. Indescribably present. And that feeling becomes a state that beckons, that calls you again and again.
And if you can feel it, guess what? You have already found it.
And sometimes bit by bit. Or all at once. You. Are. Love. The Self Part? That was always contained in the Love. Never separate from it. Maybe it was less about finding it and more about removing everything that kept you from realizing it. From knowing it.
And now for the final question.
How Is Everything Different When You Know You Love Yourself?
And that is the best question: One that only You can answer. I am still answering it…
Love and Namaste,