Love your self, your self is your soul, the animating and vital principle of your being. Your self is always worthy of love (even if your thoughts or actions are not).
During the 19th century, the word “soul” was replaced with “self” to make it less mysterious and spiritual. This allowed psychological scientists to analyze it and study it.
By showing how things worked and one thing caused another they believed they could usher in a new era of happiness for humankind.
Only their belief proved false. Now, over 200 years later, people seem more unhappy than ever.
For many in the West, to “love your self” is a foreign idea. Conditioned to search for their esteem in material goods, they do not know how to love themselves.
Yet, spiritual growth through methods like Loving Kindness Meditation begin with loving acceptance of self.
How do you feel genuine love for others if you do not love your self? How do you give what you do not have? To rediscover your soul through loving your self try one or more of these tips.
Tips to Love Your Self
#1 Hold Your Body As Though You Love Your Self
Most give their brains all the credit for thoughts and emotions, but studies suggest that the body thinks too. For example, recent research found that body posture sparks biochemical reactions in the body that affect thoughts and feelings of power.Holding your body in an open, expansive way increases your sense of confidence and power. In some meditation practices, the first step is to imagine your self as a majestic mountain, yoga poses like Mountain Pose naturally embody these characteristics.Now, experience how posture can change your state of being:
- Hold your shoulders back opening your heart and chest.
- Hold your spine like a beautiful tree with its trunk straight but relaxed, respecting its natural curvatures, firm and rooted to the ground, yet flexible and accommodating to the most powerful winds.
- Tuck your chin in slightly and hold your head as though a gentle hook is lifting it up from the sky.
- Now, take a deep breath and notice how you feel
#2 Fill Your Mind With Positive Thoughts, Positive Emotions
Reflect on a time when you felt loved. Perhaps it was with a person or a pet, or a time when you felt a part of nature: in awe of the beauty of a tree, or the blue of the sky.Savor that memory as a cherished thing you can now access easily. Reflect on this feeling of love often. If you have difficulty recalling a time when you felt loved, consider how your life is made up instances; trillions, kagillions of instances. Too often, it is the negative instances that capture attention when in reality there were many positive ones too. Reflect again, search beyond the memories you most commonly recall. It could be the love you felt from a teacher’s comment, a smile of a stranger who helped you, or the warm support of a friend. It could be the love of your dog or cat, or a tree you climbed as a child, or a beautiful sunset.
#3 Inspire Body, Mind, and Spirit
Use your breath and imagination to bring in love. Take 3 deep breaths, filling your lungs on the in-breath (inspire) and releasing tension on the out-breath. Feel your energy increase with the infusion of fresh air. Imagine that the air that you breath is love. You can think of it as God’s love, universal love, or simply love. Feel its nurturing, renewing power.Imagine love as a radiantly beautiful light. Imagine it flowing down through the crown of your head, your neck and shoulders, your back, abdomen, and legs filling every cell in your body–nurturing, nourishing, loving you.
#4 Do Things That Make You Feel Good About Your Self
Look for opportunities to do good things. It doesn’t have to be big. Often it’s the small things that mean the most. Here are a few examples:
- Smile when you greet someone
- Help someone find their way when they look lost
- Pick up a piece of trash
- Start Exercising. Walking and other forms of exercise lift your mood and helps build self esteem. Studies even found that exercise is effective in treating depression, anxiety and generally improves mental health.
- Hug a friend (after asking if it’s Ok)
You can probably think of many more.
In some ways your mind is like a garden. What you nourish, water and care for grows. If it has been unattended and weeds have grown, it takes time to clear them, to plant new seeds and care for them. The more time you spend caring for the new seeds, the more lovely the garden grows.
As you love your self more, you gain more capacity to love others, you feel less stress and you strengthen your natural healing system.
To love your self is to love your soul. Your soul is always worthy of love. Use these three tips to build loving acceptance of your self for your own benefit and the benefit of others.
Sources and Resources
Becker, Ernest, The Denial of Death, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973).
Carney, DR, et.al., “Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance,” Psychological Science, 10, no.1, October, 2010, 1363-8.
Rigpa (an international network of meditation centers and groups under the guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying), http://www.rigpa.org.