5 WAYS TO EMBODY SELF-LOVE
You may have heard that you can’t truly love others if you don’t love yourself first. While I do not 100% agree with that phrase, it does contain a seed of truth. We can love others if we do not love ourselves. However, if we lack self-love, our relationships with others will not be balanced and healthy because we project onto other people what is inside us. Therefore, the more we work on our “stuff,” emotional and mental health, the more we love and accept ourselves, and the better we will be able to truly love others and create harmonious relationships! Self-love is even more critical if you want a healthy relationship with someone who needs your love the most – yourself. It is essential for your well-being and long-term health and happiness.
1. Realize that self-love is not selfish
It is not selfish to love yourself and wish yourself well. Unfortunately, many of us have been conditioned to think self-love is selfish. We confuse selflessness, which is ego-transcending, with a lack of self-love, which is ego based. True self-love has nothing to do with being narcissistic or self-centered! It simply means that you love and are kind to the person that needs your love the most -yourself.
Buddhist teaching says:
“You can search the whole universe, and you will not find any being more worthy of your love than
Take a moment to reflect on that quote.
2. Forgive yourself
You can’t truly love yourself if you hold resentment toward yourself. Resentment creates resistance
and self-judgment, which is the opposite of self-love.
Forgiveness is not about justifying what has happened in the past. It is about letting go of grief and resentment and accepting that every person, including you, is doing her best in the given moment. We were doing our best in the past, with our awareness and heart openness at that time. When you
forgive yourself, your self-love will grow. And vice versa, forgiving yourself will become much easier when you realize you are worthy of your love.
3. Quiet the inner critic
Nobody is perfect. We tend to be very judgmental toward other people. But somehow, the biggest critic is inside us and loves judging our thoughts, skills, and actions. The inner critic loves to judge and comment on how we look and behave. Many of us have been conditioned that if something is not perfect, we must judge ourselves for it. And nothing is perfect enough for the inner critic! The inner critic grows proportionally to the amount of attention we give him. Once you stop feeding the inner critic and start setting healthy boundaries within yourself (like saying to the inner critic: thank you for your opinion, but I do not need it now, or: stop criticizing me. I am good enough!), slowly, its voice will quieten.
4. Accept yourself fully
Self-acceptance is about seeing ourselves from a place of wholeness, not lack. We are already perfect as we are because each and every one of us is a unique expression of the universe. Within every one of us, there is a light that could illuminate the whole universe! We are individual expressions of life force. At every moment in our life, we are doing our best with the resources, awareness, and intention we have at that time. Once we shift our perspective and learn to accept
ourselves fully, our self-love will grow.
5. Practice self-love
Metta, Loving-Kindness, is one of the most powerful practices that help you embody self-love.
Metta comes from the Buddhist tradition. The practice consists of sending loving thoughts toward ourselves and others. It cultivates loving awareness and compassion and beautifully opens your heart. The idea is to be able one day to enclose all beings in your loving kindness. However, Metta
starts with ourselves. It is because self-love is necessary for growing unconditional love toward others.
The practice is to repeat the phrases of loving-kindness until you can feel the love in your heart and radiate it out, first towards yourself, then toward other people. The first stage, loving kindness to oneself, is the most essential. Gradually, your self-acceptance, compassion, and love will grow. These are the traditional phrases I have learned from my teacher, Katchie Ananda:
May I be filled with loving-kindness
May I be healthy in body and mind
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers
May I be happy and free
Every morning, I take a few minutes to repeat them silently. With practice, I learned to repeat my own variations and expansion of these phrases. I also like to repeat: “May I be held, loved, supported, and loved for who I truly am. May I accept things as they are.” And so on. If you want to dive deeper into this practice, join me on the Insight Timer app, where I regularly host live events. You can also listen to the guided loving-kindness meditation here.