I have been asked many times, “How does one learn to love themselves?” A very interesting topic, indeed. I have found that self-love is a function of self-worth, and self-worth comes from validation. Those that have issues with self-worth tend to seek outside validation, while those who have an inherent sense of self-worth find validation within. So yes, once again the answers you seek are within you, but how do we get there?
First of all, leave all delusions behind. Lots of people claim to have a positive body image, when what they really mean is they want to justify not eating well and exercising regularly, not caring for the body. Be careful what you label as positive. Right now we have a lot more justification than love running around. Love promotes health on all levels – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Indulgence and addiction aren’t loving.
Hedonism is defined as the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. This leeds people to find external validation through stimulation of the senses, which results in low self-worth. Eating healthy food may not give the instant sugar high of cheesecake, but it is an act of love toward your body. Pleasure and happiness are experienced though the body, but only when it’s healthy. If your liver isn’t happy, your taste buds are serving your addictions. Be honest with yourself.
External validation also include friends, career, status, and anything else we like to use as categories of circumstance. Not that these things don’t matter at all, just that they don’t define you. I had a friend tell me, “I have really great friends, so that must mean I’m a good person.” While I firmly believe in looking outside yourself for a reality check, I would never suggest you do it to figure out who you are. Outside circumstances change all the time. People lose jobs and get divorced – don’t get attached to any external situation. Build a really good relationship with yourself, your soul. The only person guaranteed to be with you until you take your last breath, is you.
So then we come down to how to make the switch to internal validation. This only my own limited recommendation, but hopefully it’s helpful…
Treat your body and ego like a small child or animal. I consider my body like a kitten. You wouldn’t feed a kitten cheesecake and rum, because kittens need proper food and water. If a kitten makes a mistake, you wouldn’t yell at it, you would keep teaching it with correction and positive reenforcement. I know this sounds a bit strange at first, but really notice how you treat yourself, then compare it to how you would treat a kitten. Most of what people do to themselves they would never do to another. This puts you in the role of caregiver to your body and ego. This also fulfills the need for external validation, as you become identified with the higher mind, or observer consciousness, external to the ego.
This will assist you in redefining “you” as you soul, not your ego. And there’s the key. The soul is our Divine spark, perfect and eternal, inherently worthy. Your body is temporary, your ego is just thoughts and chemicals, but your soul is made of pure Divine Love. If that is what you consider “you”, then self-love is a given. Your work, then, is identifying AS your soul. You are a spiritual being having a human experience, not the other way around. Realizing this make all the difference.