These days, anyone can be a celebrity. Selfies are a somewhat suspicious new norm. And chances are, you’ve been hit over the head with the benefits of self-care. Psychology 101 preaches, love thyself first and all good things follow. Self love is a favorite topic of motivational speakers, spiritual teachers, inspirational authors and a regular feature in O Magazine. So how come singing “me me me me me” feels so “fa fa fa fa false?” It’s like hugging yourself, versus someone else. It feels a bit unnatural. Try wrapping your arms around yourself and squeezing tight with tears of joy at an airport. You will be ostracized.
Why risk blatant positive self regard? Because those blowhards are right. The more you love yourself, the more you will BE love. Truly, you will exude a vibration that elevates all those who come near. When you start with loving yourself, you naturally have more of it to give. It’s like placing your oxygen mask on before assisting others. You function better when your basic needs are met. Not only that, but when you dig yourself for real, you can get out of your own way and do what you are here to do. Those gifts you’ve got? You will notice, appreciate and leverage them, to contribute to the greater good. And when you love yourself like crazy on the daily, you will lose the irritating need for someone else to do it for you.
Depending on others to make you feel loved isn’t just stupid, it’s dangerous. Unconditional love can come from you and/or from your divine Source. Generally speaking, other human beings aren’t capable of meeting your need for love–unless you’re dating Jesus or the Dalai Lama. If you really want a constant, steady stream of love, you gotta soak your own cells, brothers and sisters. Take it in from your creator and create it from within.
Since self-love falls into the “easier said than done” category (like recommendations to compost because “it’s good for the environment”) here are some quick & dirty tips:
1. Don’t beat yourself up–prop yourself up. It’s not selfish to love yourself. It’s survival. Unless you’re truly narcissistic, loving yourself will only help you and everyone with whom you interact. If you do happen to qualify for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (blog post coming soon), disregard this and begin honest self-reflection. Narcissists are people too, suffering from deeply buried insecurities. But for the vast majority, it’s more a matter of “you better love yourself” than “you better check yourself.”
2. Be curious about that someone you call “Me”. So what makes you tick? Everyone else has a theory. What’s yours? Check out your internal state regularly. Trust your heart and listen to your gut. Revisit your childhood dreams and unearth latent passions. Take baby steps towards them. Find out your Enneagram Type or see where you land on a Myers-Briggs psychological quiz. Rediscover what makes you happy. Do it.
3. Don’t run away from you. We have all kinds of skillful methods of avoiding our true selves. At the first sign of discomfort, we may distract with a text, an online purchase, a cable TV show, or vacate homebase with a drink, a pill, or a video game. Not so fast. Learn to sit with your internal experience before you squelch it. With your simple attention, it’ll pass. Just observe the feeling and ride it like a wave. The sunset will be worth it. You aren’t as scary as you think.
4. Get real with yourself. Perfectionistic ideals of how you “should be” can really get in the way of you being your best. If you swing from thinking you’re a rockstar to feeling washed up, find the true middle ground. Ya, you’re capable of greatness. And rough patches are inevitable. Try holding your perceived successes and failures lightly, realizing that what you do doesn’t begin to touch who you are. Accept yourself as you are now and grow from there.
I hope these practical tips point you in the direction of self love. If you need help, seek out a qualified counselor or spiritual guide. We don’t need to rely on others for our self worth, but trained professionals can offer the guidance you need for a jump-start. A team of healers might be in order, but either way, it all starts with you-know-who.