“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you”
– Rupi Kaur
How you think about yourself and how you talk with yourself is key to how you see the world, and how you interact with others.
Much of the divisive anger we see around us each day can be traced to shame, and lack of self-esteem that has its roots in the hurt experienced by the inner child. The quality of all your relationships is determined by how you feel about yourself. The sad truth is that you will never experience a truly fulfilling, loving relationship unless you learn to love yourself.
Loving yourself is such an important command that we find it eight times in the Bible. The most famous is in a quote from Jesus in Mark 12:30-31: “..Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
In the same vein, the Buddha said: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
However, the lines between nurturing self-love and loving the ego often become blurred in our narcissistic culture. We are more concerned about how we are perceived and validated in the outside world than really doing the hard work of growing on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.
So what is the difference between loving the self and loving the ego?
In self-love, you will be in acceptance of who you are including all your challenges, weaknesses, hurts, and needs. The mantra is: “I love and accept myself the way I am.” It is a loving and humble submission to the self that is beyond the personality caught in external ideas and concepts.
When the release of “false Gods” or illusory concepts of the self takes place it is almost paradoxical, according to Eckart Tolle, that the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly. Things, people, or conditions that you thought you needed for your happiness now come to you without struggle or effort.
The work starts with getting to know yourself and acknowledging who you are not.
Taking time out for meditation and reflection is crucial. Tolerating alone time with the self is probably one of the hardest lessons for modern man pulled by the distraction of the 10,000 things. The voice of the inner child is often drowned by addictions and the obsession with immediate gratification.
Transmuting the pain of the inner child is a lifelong process. We are never done in the becoming of who we really are. Tracing the curveball emotions that hinder inner growth is best done with guidance from an experienced teacher or mentor who has taken a similar journey through the pain.
In an entitlement-driven culture, the ego-mind is held captive by the hungry ghosts that are never satisfied. The ego-mind is highly judgemental of others. How you are talking to yourself is an indicator of how harshly you judge yourself and others: “Why is this always happening to me?” Why am I always broke?” “Why does everyone hate me?” “Why am I not as beautiful, rich, and successful as…?”
Gratitude: The antidote to negative self-talk
A perfect antidote to negative self-talk is to switch that inner voice to something positive such as gratitude. When you change the perspective your mood will change instantly. Starting the day and ending the day with at least three things that you are immensely grateful for will set the course for how your day or night will be. No matter how bad your current situation might be there will always be things that you can be truly grateful for. We are blessed by the universe with countless things each and every minute of the day. It could be a simple thing such as being grateful to your body for all the work it is doing in sustaining you during your life on this earth. Basking in that feeling of gratitude and really feeling it on a mental and physical level does the trick.
Staying on the path
On the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, yellow waymarkers painted on walls, roads, and lamp posts prevent pilgrims from getting lost. It is not simply a way marker but a symbol reminding the pilgrim that during the walk of life you need to stay on course by showing loving kindness. Over centuries locals greet the pilgrims with the words: “Buen Camino” – a good path. After weeks on the road, the pilgrim will have been blessed in this way thousands of times. It reminded me on my own walks on the Camino that the simple things in life are often the most valuable.
Being greeted by a kind and smiling face from a stranger while struggling up a rugged mountain path makes all the difference. It costs nothing to be kind. Purpose and meaning in life can simply be spreading love and kindness to one’s fellow human being.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker