Do you love yourself? How do you know? Do you know how to love yourself?
For years I read about the importance of learning to love myself…how learning to love myself was the key that would open the door to passion and joy in my life…..that self-love was the doorway into happiness.
I believed what I was reading. The problem was I didn’t have a clue on how to actually do it. I knew I often felt inadequate but I always assumed that inadequacy only meant that my self-esteem was lower than I would have liked. I thought feeling adequate and loving myself were separate subjects.
It took time, but today I know differently.
Learning to love yourself and knowing that you are OK are actually the same subject. That when self-love is part of the foundation of our life, achieving happiness, success, and creating healthier relationships requires far less effort.
In fact, virtually everything of value in life requires that we first learn to love ourselves. When we do, life is not only a lot more fun, it has a far deeper sense of meaning and purpose.
Regardless of your background, regardless of where you are coming from, learning to love yourself is far easier to achieve than most people think. It simply requires learning two basic facts about our ego and how it actually functions.
Fact #1: Our ego is primarily concerned with making sure we have a solid sense of self-identity.
Fact #2: Our ego is also concerned with keeping us safe from physical and emotional harm.
What’s really interesting is how your ego actually accomplishes those two goals.
Establishing your self-identity begins very early in childhood when your ego learns to hide in the words “me”, “my”, and “mine”.
Your ego learned very early in life that unless you had a strong sense of “self” or “me” identity it would be a “no-body”, a “no-thing”; you would cease to “be” or “exist”. So your ego decided it would do whatever it took to avoid anything that felt unsafe or could threaten your self-identity.
For example, it learned that feelings of rejection, criticism, ridicule, guilt, and shame were emotionally hurtful. They were dangerous threats to your self-identity that made you feel badly about yourself.
So it naturally assumed that if your self-identity was firmly grounded in feelings of inadequacy and incompetence you would avoid taking on any challenges that could lead to those six dangerous threats. You would have learned to avoid change or taking risks.
Because the primitive ego of your unconscious inner-child had already firmly established the “belief” or “illusion” that you were incompetent and inadequate, unless you lived in a family that very intentionally and routinely affirmed how competent, wonderful, and loveable you were, it makes sense that you would have grown up believing the illusions of inadequacy and incompetence were true.
They would have become the powerful “belief “ or “illusion” created by your mind that has been unconsciously limiting your life. A belief created by a very young child long before you had the ability to think logically. Fortunately it is neither real, nor is it accurate.
And what was created “by” the mind can be removed through awareness “from” the mind.
Once you become self-aware and awaken to fact that the “belief or illusion” you created in your mind has been limiting your life, the illusion will quickly begin to lose its power.
Attempting to rid yourself of your ego illusions or change your beliefs by force of will is not possible. So don’t waste your time or your energy. The ego cannot, and will not, let go of your self-identity.
The only way you can change the illusion is through awareness. When you become aware that what you have always believed to be true is actually nothing more than an illusion created by a very young toddler, you will quickly begin to dissolve the illusion.
Awareness and ego “illusions” cannot co-exist in your mind. The illusions of inadequacy and incompetence are the darkness that have been limiting your life, but awareness is the light that has the power to drive out the darkness.
Awakening to the illusions your ego has created is easy. If you have read this far you are already beginning to awaken. That part was easy. The challenge will be learning how to stay awake. Your ego will do whatever it takes to keep you safe, so be ready to go back to sleep. Only you can do what is needed to remain awakened and aware. No one outside of yourself can do it for you.
But there is a very powerful spiritual practice that will help you.
It’s called authenticity or “learning to trust that who you are is OK”. The spiritual practice is simply making the intentional choice to begin living more authentically and more transparently. Letting people see who you really are. Over time your ego will become attached to authenticity and authenticity will become your ego’s new “self-identity”.
It’s easy to know if you are being authentic with the person in front of you. Just pay attention. If you find yourself get nervous, sweaty palms, jittery, self-conscious, feeling inadequate…..you are not being authentic. You are playing a role based on what you think the other person wants you to be, or who you think you “should” be. Just be aware. It will wake you up.
Your authentic self, who you really are, is your pure observing consciousness. Every thing else you think you are is an illusion created by your ego.
Authenticity attracts authenticity, and authentic people are fun to be around.
Making the choice to begin living more authentically can be a challenge initially, but if you are willing to continue the spiritual practice of living more authentically, you’ll find that your spirit will begin to like the feeling of lightness and freedom that you experience.
That sense of freedom is what loving yourself feels like.