Throughout my spiritual journey of finding God and living in sobriety, I’ve been presented with deep life lessons along the way. I’m convinced that life is a never-ending process of refinement, shaping, molding and transforming. A process within that process is learning what it means to love yourself, accept who you are and begin to step forth into your most authentic self in doing so. I’ve found that self-love is the beginning of all love.
As a recovered addict and alcoholic, I can speak from a space of having to face some really messy areas within the corners of my being. Addiction is a form of numbing. We run from ourselves, our lives, the realities of our existence and often the habit of escaping overrides any inclination to just face the music of life without substances to alter the real song we should be hearing. We use substances and vices of all kinds to fill us up with happiness we are missing in other areas of our lives.
We look for acceptance in social settings or by being able to “drink anyone under the table,” which by the way was one of my own proud accolades. We thrive on being accepted by others and avoid being “alone” because we fear we are missing out, but underneath that we are really just terrified of what we might find when we sit with our thoughts.
Learning to love yourself, even the super messed up parts, is one of the most transforming practices you can put into place for your life. It takes time and intentionality to achieve, but it is something you can cultivate.
Self-love is a multifaceted concept. It requires loving yourself, loving God that dwells inside of you and then letting this radiate into your relationships with others.
In order to love ourselves we must get to a place where we see ourselves for who we are. We have to acknowledge the areas we are strong in, along with our areas of weakness. We have to face our deepest, darkest secrets and shed light on them. We have to work through our guilt and shame. We have to pour love on the parts of ourselves that might not be so lovable, which I will talk more on next week.
We must accept that we are not perfect, no one is. The only perfect human that ever existed is Jesus and while we can strive to be like him, his whole point of living was to live a perfect life and to die for our sins knowing that it would be impossible for us to live in that way.
We must find rest, trust and relief in knowing that he paid a price on our behalf so the pressure to be perfect is off of us. God created us with imperfections and he allows us to experience trials, suffering and pain to strengthen us, grow us and ultimately to turn us towards him.
Excuse my headiness, but this serves a good point. Within all of us is the miracle of life. We are breathing, thinking, digesting and have millions of intricate processes automatically happening inside of us. God dwells inside of each of us through his spirit if we choose to accept Him into our hearts.
Imagine the creator of the entire universe, who created man, women, animals, nature, oceans, mountains, the stars and everything between, living inside of us. That is so powerful when we really think of it. We could try our hardest not to make our heart beat or to hold our breath without letting our lungs fill up, but no matter how hard we try, they will work against our restraints. We can try our hardest not to blink and we might even be undefeated in stare-offs, but the bottom line is eventually, we are going to blink. We were designed with so many details in place. We need to show some love for the magical wonder inside each and every one of us.
The last component of self-love is how it spills over into our relationships. I read a quote that said:
“If you ever lose love, don’t go out looking for it. Reach inside you and recreate what you think you lost. You ARE love. You can’t lose you.”
Once we find the love within, a weight is lifted. We no longer need to seek love from outside sources. We can just BE love. Self-love is the beginning of all love. When we accept ourselves, we give up the need to be accepted by others and our true self emerges in its most genuine form.
They say the key to finding true love is to love yourself first. Remember all things flow from the heart. Make sure you are in love with what is inside of it. Once you love yourself, then and only then can you fully and truly love someone else because we move from a space of looking for someone to complete us, to knowing that all we need is someone who compliments our being.
Loving yourself is compassionate.
It is empathetic.
It displays an unconditional kindness.
If we want to express compassion, empathy and kindness to others, we must also be able extend it to ourselves. Self-love begins with “self,” because you cannot find it in anyone or anything else. Ask God to help you see you for who he created you to be and to love all parts of yourself, your life and your soul. Ask for an awareness of where and how you can show more love to yourself. And then watch what happens.