At some point in our lives, during our quest for happiness and contentment, we inevitably ask ourselves this question: ‘How to love yourself?’ or ‘How can I love myself?’. You may have noticed by now that I used to explore Google for almost everything. I was a question machine and Google was my answer machine. And this question was no different.
Many of the sources would generally suggest the use of affirmations, a change in mindset, socializing, traveling, a change of style, or taking up new hobbies. The list was almost endless. However, it didn’t take me very long to realize that most of the information provided online about Self-Love was either superficial, vague, or lacked a certain depth for appropriate understanding. Most of what I came across was of no use to me. Nothing gave me any permanent results.
But fear not, I eventually found the answer through none other than our Om Swami’s guidance, writings, talks, grace, and jokes. As am running out of RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) to log into the Black Lotus App, I’ll share my discovery with you here. Just joking!
I figured that there are several aspects that need tackling when it comes to loving ourselves. And they are all inter-linked and complement one another. The key before venturing into this self-love business is to realize that it is about the self – our self.
The biggest mistake many of us do when trying to grow self-love, is that we start seeking outside. But unfortunately, I learned the hard way that we cannot expect to love ourselves by outsourcing. People around us can make us feel loved and feel good about ourselves, but the moment we start depending on outside sources for validation, we are in for a roller-coaster ride. Why?
Because the love we receive will mostly depend on their needs. Their need to give love, their need to receive certain things from us, and their expectations. Feeling happy and loving ourselves when the other person is in a good mood but feeling low on self-worth when they are having a bad day is a waste of our precious time on this planet. The bottom line is: Self-love begins with ourselves and anything anyone else has to offer is a beautiful bonus.
Everything written in this post comes from my understanding through my singular source of wisdom, Om Swami, and His instruments. I have tried and tested each one of those points and keep pushing through on bad days. For now, I’ll share the four things which, I feel, are significant contributors to Self-Love, bearing in mind that it may be a lifelong process.
Caring for our physical health
When we feel physically fit and healthy, we are bound to feel happier and love ourselves more. It may not be possible for all of us to be in top shape due to various reasons. But at any point in time, it is our duty towards ourselves to work towards feeling healthy. This ‘feeling’ may be vary between different individuals. I noticed that feeling healthy and in shape, or at least exercising regularly increases our Self-Love. Yes, physical fitness in itself may not lead to long-lasting Self-Love but physical wellbeing is paramount to emotional wellbeing. When we wake up feeling on top of the world, it’s a bit easier to stand up for ourselves against our own minds.
Loving our best quality
“It will be hard to love yourself unless you find something you like about yourself. You must like yourself before you can love yourself” ~ Om Swami (Paraphrased)
We must make it a point to find something that we love about ourselves, and contrary to preconceived beliefs, it doesn’t have to be something major. If you must look for your foremost quality, for example, the clue lies in what most of your friends and family love about you. It could be that you are funny, or kind, compassionate, a good listener, extremely loving or helpful. Anything (good).
No, it can’t be that you are the laziest person in your entourage. But it can be that you are a very relaxed person.
That’s it! Then you start loving yourself for this particular quality. By being mindful every time that we are genuinely kind, for instance, we find ourselves overwhelmed with self-love. Although we are quick to help others feel good about themselves, very often we are much harsher on ourselves. Sometimes, we do deserve a pat on our back (yoga poses may help with such flexibility) because after all, human life is a blessing and it’s a given that all of us have quite a few great qualities. Go on … find yours. No, no don’t boast about it, just love it!
“It’s not possible to love someone without first being fulfilled ourselves. And the feeling of fulfillment is an inner experience. Others can give us a glimpse of it, but in the end, it’s your own depth of character and existence that dictates how content you are.” ~ Om Swami (The centre of your life)
Being of use to others
When we lead a selfish life, living for ourselves and barely helping anyone in the process, it is harder to love ourselves. Perhaps it’s hard to make sense of this as it may appear to beat the whole point of self-love. But when we make others happy, it boosts our own happiness and when others genuinely benefit from our actions, the love we experience for ourselves increases magically. The trick is to discover what gives you fulfilment. When Swami G first mentioned this in the special Swaminar talk, I was mind-blown and had an a-ha moment.
It made perfect sense to me: When I was of service to others, be it helping, sharing, lecturing or caring for others, the amount of self-love was multi-fold more than when I was living for myself and doing my daily tasks half-heartedly. This leads me to clarify that once again, what gives us fulfilment doesn’t have to be something out of the ordinary. It can be as simple as caring for our family members selflessly, without any expectation of gratitude, praise or love in return. When we are of use to others, we disappear. We become so involved in the selfless act that the sense of ‘I’ doesn’t exist anymore. And love takes over.
I feel that self-love is longer-lasting if we have faith in a higher power or simply in humanity. In all honesty, I don’t have much to say about this particular point because faith can hardly be explained, it must be experienced as the fragrance to our lives. Faith provides us with an anchor and a sense of comfort, knowing that we are not facing the world on our own. Don’t get me wrong, atheists can also have a great sense of self-love, but maybe that’s because no one is entirely an atheist. They may still believe in love or live in the hope of love.
“Faith is love. When you have faith, you let go off your worries of the future, you let go of your guilt of the past, because you have surrendered to the divine will. You remain committed to a life of goodness and action.” ~ Om Swami on Faith
So, these were four main ingredients to self-love along with many other complementary ingredients (for another time). It is worth noting however that as we are forever subject to the fluctuations of our minds, there will be good days and bad days. The knowing that these fluctuations are impermanent helps us sail through live in self-love with a sense of contentment. It is absolutely crucial to make a commitment to keep our minds clear of self-doubt and self-defeating thoughts, by dropping each thought one by one, through mindfulness. Even if some of us encounter difficult people who constantly bring us down, we can rise above their negative comments and opinions by building inner strength and doing the above. Eventually these negative opinions lose their importance as we realise that whatever others convey to us are just thoughts which are constantly fluctuating.
And above all, let’s take it easy and remember The One Being who loves us unconditionally. In gratitude to Him, we ought to love ourselves too…
So, love yourself like you mean it. I hope these scribbles were of some use… otherwise no RAK for me today. (Maybe I am just kidding. Just maybe.)
Photo Credits: Amazing Baleni