We have all heard it before: you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. While we hear this, and we try to integrate the concept, not everyone completely understands it. Yet, it is something worth investigating. In fact, truly understanding self-love just might be the most important thing you ever do.
Self-love is not easily defined, but we can tell you what it is not. It is not conceit or entitlement. Placing yourself in high esteem at the expense of others stems from a lack of self-love, and not from too much. You can never love yourself too much. This is because the love you feel for yourself spills out into your life just like the ocean seeps into the crevices that are our bays and rivers. Love is everywhere and never selfishly contained.
You may think you understand self-love, but ask yourself this: do you care for yourself as you care for others, or do you put yourself last? When you do not live by your convictions and do not take care of your needs, it is a sign that you are not practicing self-love.When you do discover the love you have for yourself, you will know it. There is a sense of familiarity, and there is no turning back because everything immediately makes sense. Then, all the negative feelings you once had simply vanish.
Dorothy, the protagonist in The Wizard of Oz, realized she had the power to go home all along, and that “aha” moment ended her quest. But that moment also began a new journey of self-discovery. The first step was to trust herself and this allowed the release of the fear she carried with her from Kansas. Had she known that she had the power to change her life, and that she did not need the help of the wizard, her experience would have been different. Of course, the road to self-love is marked with ups and downs, and learning is part of the journey. Dorothy’s ultimate empowered sense of self was attached to the recognition of the existence of unconditional love.
So what is self-love exactly? Self-love is actually a simple concept. We all have a good idea of what love is. When you love your children or your pets, you feel a desire to nurture and care for them. Self-love always comes from strength, with a proper connection to source, and is infused with joy and goodwill. Self-love is aligned with self-acceptance, with gratitude, with the knowledge of your own vulnerability and the fact that your place in the world is as one of many. Above all, self-love is equated with trust. When you are experiencing who you are, and loving yourself, confidence develops. You begin to trust the decisions you make, and you trust the world not to betray you. When you love yourself, you realize that no one is more or less than you. This sense of equality becomes obvious and materializes instantly. Loving someone else is then possible. Happiness is possible. When you love yourself, you know who you are. You have finally come home.
About the Guest Authors: Sandrine Baptiste is an integrative holistic wellness coach and personal trainer. Rhonda Tremaine is a health and spirituality writer. Both authors are founding partners at ENoetic Press and blog at Everything Noetic http://www.everythingnoetic.com