I wrote about this a lot in “Your Inner Child is a Winner – How to reclaim your natural confidence and self-esteem”.
People with self-esteem problems know this as a fact. So do people with depression or anxiety. Or other health problems. Or any other kind of problem.
This is the fact:
Self-love is the very foundation for our well-being.
And yet, many people think that it is wrong to love ourselves. That it is a narcissistic sport that will lead to loneliness because others will ultimately repel us, egotistic / egoistic monsters that we are.
But I am not talking about narcissism when I say “self-love”. That, by the way, is not self-love but the opposite of it. I actually think that Narcissus must not have loved himself very much if he sought constant validation for his looks. Makes sense… doesn’t it?
What I mean by self-love is this:
- having a warm relationship with yourself, like you would have with a dear lifelong friend. It doesn’t mean there won’t be mistakes necessarily, but there is respect and there will always be the benefit of the doubt. Patience too..
People who love themselves are okay with the fact that they (and everybody else) are a work in progress. Failure is a moment in time (although failure itself is only a point of view).
People who love themselves enjoy life. They are kind because they love more.
Happy people love themselves. Or at least like themselves.
Then, why does self-love have such a bad reputation?
I’ve just asked the question but I’m really not interested in the answer.
I’m more interested in cultivating this thing, this constellation of feelings towards self.
In the book I talked about in the beginning of this post, “Your Inner Child is a Winner”, I said many times that children have no problems with love – or with self-love. They come wired with a very healthy sense of self and they have no reservations in showing it.
I have seen this in all my years as a teacher, having worked with hundreds of children in different countries.
The younger they are, the stronger this feeling is. It is like the sap inside the plant – it loves them and guides them towards what is good and nourishing for them. It also alerts them when something is not good for them.
The younger they are, the more natural the feeling of self-love. They don’t know to call it that. They are simply home there and they live from it.
But then, something happens with some children. This feeling gets thwarted. Somehow, somewhere, they get the idea that it is wrong to love yourself, or even like yourself.
That they are bad. Guilty. Irresponsible. Worthy of punishments…
The connection to that source of love for their very being is twisted and diminished. That is when the problems start.
In a plant, you see the leaves turning yellow.
In humans you see the children starting to act up and act out.
If the connection is not restored, the problems get bigger. The self-hatred begins. And, with it, self-sabotage and maybe even self-destruction.
I was on that path for many years. I know many people who are on that path.
I have gotten off of it. Now I write books about how I did it.
Sometimes I write about how to heal depression and anxiety. Other times I write about love and success. But these are all ways in which self-love appears in one’s life.
I have written a book about self-love itself. Called it “The Nourished Soul”, because this is what self-love does: it nourishes the soul. It keeps it fed and healthy.
In it, I talk about approaching self-love slowly. If the connection is diminished, it can’t be hot-gunned back.
But there is a way.
And the way is this: understanding that “love” is a constellation of feelings. It is kindness, gentleness, patience and others.
Never mind “love”. Don’t even call it that. It’s a big word.
Go, instead, for being a bit more patient with you. Or cutting yourself a break by being gentle instead of harsh when you think you “messed up” (or whatever thing you do that makes you beat yourself up).
For me, “kindness” really does it all. You can be a little kind to yourself, every once in a while. And if you keep it up… you will change. You will remember how you felt… and you will realize that the sap inside of you has always felt that way.
And, shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but kindness is love in action.
Sunny skies and good feelings,