Last week I celebrated with a friend. Her daughter is stepping away from using recreational drugs to embark on a path of recovery.
Part of her healing curriculum involves identifying all the ways she’s treated herself badly; self criticism, self sabotage, that kind of thing, to replace these behaviors with more positive ones.
This got me thinking about self help approaches which stress the importance of learning to love yourself.The background to many of the ‘love yourself’ approaches goes like this…
A Case of Mistaken Identity
If you’re like most people it’s likely you grew up absorbing the ideas and beliefs of your parents, teachers, society and culture. And, as you grew older, you either embraced these ideas or rebelled against them, or a bit of both.
Sometimes this early conditioning delivers a life of peace and contentment but for most folks trying to live out of the expectations of others only leads to struggle. Why? Because you’re not living from your core, that essence of you that knows who you really are. Another way of saying this is you create a false self, which can only cause pain and discomfort because you’re not being true to yourself.
Loving Yourself Is An Important Step
This pain usually goes one of two ways. It either generates behaviors to numb out the pain, or acts as a catalyst for healing. My friends’ daughter had tried the former route, found it only created more hurt, and is now seeking the latter. So far, so good. She is beginning to seek Love.
Getting in touch with what really resonates with you, from the food you eat to the people you hang out with to the work you do…really knowing all of this at a deep level is a natural consequence of healing.
But this shift doesn’t come about by simply learning kindness or how to pamper yourself. It comes about because you discover a new equation.
You are not 2. You are 1.
The problem with the ‘love yourself’ path is that it tends to lead to a state of separation. From what? From knowing all the way into your bones that you are Love.
If you’re trying to love yourself there’s a you that’s doing the loving and there’s a you that’s being loved. So you’re creating two of you. You might need to read that bit again. I want you to get really curious here.
I’m not saying don’t treat yourself lovingly. Being kind to yourself is a critical step on the healing journey. I’m saying don’t stop there. When you listen deeply your Heart always whispers to go beyond reconditioning your mind or behaviors to awaken all the way to the Love you’ve always been and always will be.
A Handy Tip
The next time you ask yourself ‘what would be a loving thing for me do for myself?’ let go looking for an answer. Place the question lightly in your Heart. Feel into the sensations in your Heart.
Gently open to the sensations. Welcome them. Don’t analyze. Simply let your conscious attention read your Heart.
Then go about your day. Your Heart will guide you towards what ever action or non action is an expression of Love.
And you may be surprised. Just as my friend was when she discovered that her heart sometimes responds with what she usually thinks of as self loving actions, like going for a walk or sitting in the sun, and at other times it nudges her to go clean out her garage or initiate a conversation she’s been avoiding.
What is your heart saying about the Love you are and
what this looks like?
Share and comment below.