Loving the self is quite a popular theme currently in many self-improvement circles. We are constantly encouraged to love ourselves more by a plethora of therapeutic devices and schemes.
In my first book written nearly 30 years ago, I wrote about love and crammed the book full of affirmations and statements for the reader to use, and whilst they may have had some validity, their effect is often blocked by contradictory subconscious programming which can result in stress and conflict as belief fights with belief inside us.
“I love and accept myself” we may utter as the subconscious counters with thoughts like “Really? You could have fooled me!.” This is often accompanied by techniques designed to stimulate the brain and energy system so it will release these long held, apparently inaccessible thoughts. This would be fine if the brain was actually the mind and responsible for our thinking but it isn’t. Like the nervous system that it controls and manages, the amazing brain is merely the complex machine that is the conduit for the instructions the mind gives, mainly subconsciously. And the only part of us that can do anything about changing that isn’t the conscious mind that is intellectually and emotionally driven, but something much greater within us.
I read recently a piece from a new self-help book, instructing the reader how to love the self. A well intentioned book no doubt by a sincere author, it seemed to be promoting a path to a kind of self-centred narcissism laced with a degree of hedonism, rather than understanding the truth about the real nature of the self, and what is termed self-love. Much of the cause of this approach emerged in the aftermath of the 60’s and some modern therapeutic thought that flowed in its wake under the guise of holistic practice, which it sadly seldom is. The cult of the personality, so dominant in western culture, took on a new lease of life advocating success, fame, prosperity (often meaning acquiring money), popularity and so on as the objectives of a life of self-love, rather than seeking fulfilment and purpose through our true higher selves. Many approaches are the toy of the intellect which thinks it knows what desires and needs are necessary for us to pursue for the best expression of our purpose. This may bring fleeting bouts of “happiness” but little deep joy and many moments of sadness.
“I listen to my heart”. If only that were true what a wonderful world we would inhabit. Most of us savour only brief moments of heart dominated focus, mostly detached from the love, kindness and wisdom of our hearts in a rush for “self” preservation. Our world as it is makes it difficult even for the most gifted to have a permanently clear channel to the heart and its message of love and service, the central purpose of human existence. To listen and be guided by our hearts requires a well nurtured clear pathway in us so we can truly hear it’s voice instead of that of the ego since the heart’s key promptings are selflessness and loving service in all aspects of our lives. The heart message also is about purpose and not the personality’s ambition. A favourite phrase I heard once was “Let me centre myself but let me not be self-centred”.
Now I am not advocating a life of pain, lack, and unhappiness. But self- love has little to do with the personality, the you and me we are temporarily in this life. But what is usually meant by loving the self is largely that.
Love of the self begins and ends with a loving rapport and an honouring of the beautiful Divinity or god within each of us. You may refer to this in many ways: Higher or High Self, Soul, Divine Essence or spark, True Ego or I. The Father within as Jesus acknowledged it to be. This is the essence of us, pure and unsullied, imbued with the unlimited and unconditional love of Divinity (is there anyway such as a thing as conditional love?). When we open ourselves to this we begin to touch the “heaven” within us, the true self, of which our personality is the mostly fragile and ill-informed representative, existing through its physical body, intellectually lead and laced with fear soaked emotions. “I am a confluence of all the forces of the universe pretending to be Deepak Chopra” as the famous man once replied when asked to describe himself.
The real magnificence of each of us dwells in the light of our beautiful essence, our divinity. It is here and here alone we encounter true love and it is in the essence of others that we contact that same force, when it has an all too rare opportunity to radiate into this world. A good healer may have experienced this when in a split second of attunement to the heart, ego briefly subjugated, something wonderful and inexplicable is experienced by both healer and patient. It may or may not result in the initially desired physical healing but it will change their lives indescribably. They will have been touched by the force of divine love.
We are all, potentially at least, centres of divine love, a love which tries so much to guide our human natures and provide for us as we go on our way, occasionally inspired as we do by this loving wisdom: in heart centred living we will be inspired all the time. We have to allow it to work rather than make it or tell it to. This is the High Self or pattern maker of the Huna religion. If we attune in love to this inner divinity and keep our egos quiet it will truly work loving miracles for us and replace happiness with joy.
How do we do this? Through prayer, open meditation, service, kindness, gratitude and most important, trusting the divine within us as we tell it that we love it and seek to understand what has caused us to go off track as we say sorry for our ego driven failings. Then we open ourselves to its love, a love we then radiate into our outer world and everyone and everything in it.
We no longer have to worry about loving ourselves. Then we are love.