Perhaps the most important piece I've written to date, Self-Love is everything. With it, life is beautiful, abundant, joyous, and free. Enjoy!
There is perhaps no better analogy for Self-Love than the classic airplane oxygen mask saying: secure your own mask first before assisting another.
In this article I use a capital S in Self referring to the Highest Self, which is different from your corporeal self, with a lowercase s. The distinction between the two is vital, and the lack of awareness between the two is the cause of much suffering in the world.
The self seeks physical pleasures and comforts. It includes the mental, emotional, and physical bodies and generally feels ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on external circumstances. The concept of selfishness has been given a negative connotation in our society as it refers to the desire to have more, at the detriment of another, and it comes from a place of lack. However, Selfishness is the act of aligning the self with the Self by tending to one’s physical, mental, and emotional needs as a top priority, resulting in a benefit to all, coming from a place of abundance.
This distinction was not made clear in my childhood. I was told “don’t be selfish” when I asked for something that I wanted or felt I needed. I was not made aware of the Self, so I felt that if I wanted or needed anything, I was being selfish and that was cause to be disliked. Taking care of my own needs became secondary to doing what I thought would get me love from my friends and family.
I’ll never forget going to summer camp around age 13, I was in a cabin with 10 other boys. To maintain order in a cabin with a bunch of young teens, the counselors set rules that everyone agreed to abide by and we all signed a document. I don’t remember any of the rules to this day, except one, and it read exactly this: “No Self-Love”
I spent 7 weeks of my summer under the agreement that I wouldn’t love myself, an agreement I even signed my name to. Now, reflecting back, that rule was likely in reference to an act that 13-year-old boys generally enjoyed in their own privacy, but that was never made clear, nor did I understand it at the time. As silly as that sounds, this was one of many many experiences in my life where the idea of prioritizing your own care and wellbeing was reinforced as a negative act that will result in the loss of love or punishment.
What I came to find on my path over the last decade is that the concept of Selfishness is pure Love in action. It involves the understanding that what is good for me is good for you, and by prioritizing my Self it will be to the benefit of all. Selfishness is the path toward Self-Love.
But how is Self-Love good for others?
First, let’s look at what Self-Love is. The Self is the non-physical, spiritual body that has the highest perspective, that observes all things without judgment, aligns with Source energy, and guides you on your path in this life. Love is the recognition that we are all One and what benefits me benefits all. It should be noted that Love is different than, but all-encompassing of, the different types of love we use in the English language (romantic love, platonic love, familial love, etc.).
So, Self-Love is the act of integrating our self with our Self, where our actions, words, and thoughts about ourselves, others, and the world are aligned with the highest vibrational energy, which is Love. In this way, acting in Selfishness is making this connection from self to Self, and in doing so lifting our own vibration, which will lift the vibration of all others. Therefore, Selfishness develops Self-Love within us.
But why? What is the point of all of this?
Ultimately, all you have is your Self. Everything else in this world is impermanent, even your self. You are quite different today than when you were 10 years old, no? Your self looks entirely different, your mental, emotional, and physical bodies have grown and changed over the years. Your friends will come and go, loved ones will die, your career will change, everything around you is in constant flux. Except for your Self.
Developing Self-Love is like a tree growing roots deep into the earth. While the storm whips through and the branches and leaves flail about, you are firmly rooted to the ground and are able to bend and sway without fear because you are safely held in your connection to the Earth. The roots are your Self and the earth is Source energy.
Not only are you able to maintain your own well-being in the storm, but you are capable of helping others. When you are aligned, at peace, strong, and capable, you are vibrating at a level that lifts the vibration of those around you without effort. You enter into a realm where the law of attraction kicks in and the things you want begin coming to you. You enter into a state of allowance instead of resistance. Life becomes beautiful, gratitude blossoms, and happiness is yours to enjoy.
Okay, Stephen, this all sounds great, but how do I do this? I don’t love, or Love myself, or whatever, and I don’t think I can. I’m too broken.
I feel you, I’ve been there, I thought the same thing. I disliked myself for most of my life and even hated myself for a while after my mother passed.
I can tell you with certainty that EVERYONE can find Self-Love. Imagine your heart being covered in thick clay. Acting in Selfishness will begin to chip away at the clay. With time, your heart will become less encumbered and you will begin to feel some expanse. With persistence, you will gain momentum until your heart is free and full. There are unlimited ways to do this, and the process is personal for all, but here are some ways to get started.
Borrowing from a favorite teacher of mine, Teal Swan, start by asking yourself each day, “Is this something that someone who Loves themselves would do?”
If the answer is no, don’t do that thing. If the answer is yes, do that thing. I recommend taking a sticky note and writing this question on it, placing it on your bedroom door or bathroom mirror, as a reminder to ask yourself each day.
So what are some things I can do to cultivate Self-Love?
The goal here is, generally, to feel good. Feeling good is a sign of a higher vibration, and spending time in a higher vibration will chip away at the clay that is caked around your heart.
First, I recommend the practices I wrote about in my piece, 3 Ways to Prepare for Loss, as these will help to reduce fear, increase gratitude, and disconnect you from the whirlwind of emotions. Specifically, make a positivity list to learn what things in your life make you feel good, which you can refer to in times of need.
You can’t control the outside world, so practice letting go of trying to. Treat your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves as you would a young child, with the finest care and love. Here are some ideas:
-Feed yourself healthy food that makes you feel good
-Practice good hygiene and dress in a way that makes you feel confident
-Find an exercise that you enjoy doing, and do it regularly
-Treat yourself to a massage, facial, spa day, etc
-Drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep
-Read books that stimulate you
-Challenge yourself with fun games or puzzles
-Engage in meaningful conversation
-Write about something you care about
-Grieve or Pre-Grieve
-Find a good therapist
-Do shadow work
-Connect with friends and family in a meaningful way
-Use a positive mantra (look in the mirror and say “I Love you”)
-Listen to music
-Watch, read, or listen to something that uplifts or inspires you
-Read, listen, or watch teachings from a spiritual teacher
-Connect with nature
-Practice letting go of judgments, expectations, and resistance
All of these practices are Selfish, none are selfish. By doing these things you are filling your own cup. When your cup is full, you can share the overflow with others. This is how a healthy relationship is formed. This is how it is possible to unconditionally Love another because you’ve unconditionally Loved yourself first.
This practice of cultivating Self-Love is lifelong. There is no end. How do you know if it is working? You feel good for no reason. You feel good despite an external circumstance that would have made you feel bad in the past. You see synchronicities regularly. Things you want will start coming to you. The farther along you go up this path, the more clay you chip away from your heart, the more amazing life becomes, and the more you will want to keep going.
Of course, there will be obstacles along the way, moments of hardship that are unpleasant and challenging. These are nothing more than opportunities to develop strength and resiliency in your Self-Love practice. Recognize them as such and appreciate the signs that you are leveling up. On the other side of these hardships is an even greater good, more joy, more Love. Onward and Upward. You got this.
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