I've thought about writing a blog (even written one and never posted it) on self-love for quite some time now. I think that all of the teachers of life teach what they themselves must learn. So in my teaching you, I am not only contributing to the healing of this Universe as a whole but to my own much needed healing. Self-love. I used to think it was a cliche, laughable even. Tree-hugging hippies and social rejects could go love themselves somewhere else, I wasn't going to be a part of it. At least this is what I was taught. It wasn't cool to talk about your feelings or "love yourself". The type of love I wanted was from the outside world, just so that you could put me next to another human being and compare the love that we received. I needed solid proof that I had worth in the world, I needed to be able to show it off to everyone that I had more "love" than them and only outside love was going to give me that ability. The problem with self-love is that it's immeasurable. Truthfully, that's not a problem at all...just one for the ego. You see self-love is just that--only for ourselves. It's incomparable and has nothing to do with competition (not even with oneself). You know, it's interesting too because we can all make seemingly healthier choices in our lives yet it could have absolutely nothing to do with loving ourselves. This is where the power of intention really affects lives. For years I tried to make healthier choices in my diet, I tried to workout more, I tried to stop drinking and smoking, I tried to stop dating the "assholes", I tried to keep climbing the corporate ladder and make more and more money, all-in-all I tried to live a "better" life....but why? Honestly, because it made me better than the next guy. If I looked young and beautiful and had a "better" job title than my peers and could afford to buy more, "better" stuff than them, if I had a "better" relationship, or seemed like a "better" mom, and I looked happier than them and got more recognition than they did then I meant something, I was more "loved", I was "better" than them. Even more honestly than that, I only tried so hard to be "better" because there was a huge void inside of me. I didn't love myself. I couldn't accept myself for what I was. I literally lived withing the confines of my own motto to"never accept yourself for what you are but make yourself better". Somewhere along the way I was given the false idea that filling that void could only come from the outside-in. The concept of filling it from the inside-out was never even on the table, never looked at, never considered a possibility. Even the love from the "God" that I learned about as a child was coming from something outside of myself, never within. Yes, we were told once in a while that Christ was in our hearts but it was ever-so driven into our heads that "God" was up in the sky, watching our every move, ultimately separate from us. So even though most of my life I believed there was a God and I prayed to him. His love wasn't going to help me with the loveless whole in my heart. This concept of needing to love myself has been a core issue I always find myself at after digging through my personal issues. No matter what it is, it always brings me back to not loving myself. If you find yourself making poor life decisions and you know that it's bad for you but you do it anyway, almost as if you can't control yourself then you have that same lack of love embedded in your subconscious like I do. Somewhere along the line, probably from my parents and society, I adopted the idea that I was not lovable, and in order to be lovable I had to be someone else. It's so amazing to me now, but back then I couldn't see my own magnificence. I knew that I was very talented, and intelligent and beautiful but there was a cloud of judgement over each of these observations that said "But, I could be better." These are the voices of my parents running through my head like a broken record. My mother, always wanting me to strive for greatness no matter what life handed me, constantly telling me I could do better. My father's saying that you can't just do your best you have bethe best. Although, I see now that my parents thought they were doing what was best for me, it has hindered me in every single thing I've ever done. On one hand, I've been perceived as one of the best in everything I do. Friends have even said I'm "good at everything." But on the other hand, I've never really tried anything that I knew I couldn't be the best at. How can you fail at something you never try? So little by little I've tried to love myself. To accept myself for who I am. I've discovered many new beautiful things about myself. It's been a long journey, and one that I'm no where near the end of but I wanted to help all of you with the steps I've taken that have helped me thus far. Step 1. Awareness: My own awareness is what's been displayed throughout this entry. I've become aware of the state of lovelessness I've been living in and creating from. I think all of us are aware on some level but to live from that point of awareness is what we must strive to do. We have lived from the falsely informed subconscious for too long and it's time to wake up and take the reins of our own lives. Ask yourself: "why?" "Why do I keep making the same mistake?" "Why do I need to make more money?" "Why do want to eat better?" Keep asking until you come up with an internal reason for what you do. Ultimately we all do what do because we want to matter, we want to feel loved, worthy and so on. Once we know exactly where we are and what we want we can move onto the next step. This is easier said than done and awareness takes a lot of practice, self-reflection and resisting resistance. Step 2. Intention: Set the intention. This is how we create anything in our lives. Stop setting the intention to be better in every aspect of our outside lives and start intending to love ourselves for exactly what we are right now on the inside. And everything on the outside (all those "bad habits we've been trying to fix) will fall into place. What we all seem to forget (or may not yet even know) is that absolutely everything in our lives right now is a direct reflection of who we are on the inside, right now. So in order to change the outside we must realize that its source is within us and change the inside and only the inside. You can meddle in your garden all you want it's not gonna change the fact that deep within your "home" is a big ol' mess. The first and simplest way to set your intention into motion and eventual manifestation is to ask for what you want. Whether you ask God, Goddess, The Divine, The Universe, Source or whatever name you have for it. I don't care if you think it, pray it, write it, draw it, sing it, or shout it at the rooftops into the nothingness that you may or may not believe in....just ask. Ask and you shall receive. It seems too simple but it's the truth. But here's the catch...you cannot skip to step 2 without first realizing step 1. You have to really know what you want and why you want it. And I promise you, what you want is NEVER really external. That's why all of you fellow believers in the Law of Attraction can't seem to attract what you want. You're skipping a crucial step in the process. Why do you want it??? You may think you want it for one reason when really you want it for another. While yes, we can create and attract through the ego, we can NEVER attract what we truly want through the ego. So I stress to you, understand the core of who you are and what you want you before you set your intention because, you can attract a whole bunch of pain for yourself (and not the cleansing kind). Next step... Step 3. Action: The action I'm talking about is not the action you're used to-the physical action taken in striving to be better on the outside. No, I mean the internal action. We've got to start on the inside. I'm going to give you a few ideas that I've applied in my life on the road to loving myself. Now that we've gotten through the mess and pain of the why's in our lives, we can start to treat ourselves well, like we deserve. One of the things I think may be the most hated by ourselves as a whole is our body. In fact it's become a cultural phenomenon to hate our own bodies. Girls who are thin become praised by society and held to an impossible standard of perfection and girls that are curvy automatically become second class in the contest of beauty to the Societal eye. Men are just the same in the sense of who ever looks the strongest in turn must be. Every time I turn on the television I cannot get away from the obsessive "next-best-thing" in weight loss. We've risked our lives consuming these deadly unnatural concoctions that we generally know nothing about all to be "more beautiful". Personally I can't really see how something that is created in a lab for monetary purpose and is not of our own beautiful natural resources could possibly make anyone beautiful, but that's for another blog. My point is that we have been bread not to love ourselves. And honestly if you did love yourself you would enjoy some healthy daily exercise and eating the earth's nutritious food because you would know that you deserved it. Instead you're having to face all of your worst nightmares and self criticism every time you hit the gym. What I started to understand about my body was that it wasn't just a tool to make me more sexy, or more beautiful, it was so much more than that. For one, my body is the vehicle I need to experience life! And my body coupled with my soul has the ability to experience life on so many different levels. We spend so much time criticizing the way our bodies look that we never stop to give gratitude for everything our body gives us, without our even asking. I'll never forget the day I was working out at the gym mirror just like any other day and I caught myself completely tearing my body apart. "This could be smaller", "That could look tighter", "I wish I didn't have that". And in this moment of awareness it was like I was awakened for the very first time. I looked at myself in that gym mirror truly for the first time and I said to myself,"What on earth am I talking about? I'm beautiful! I love my body. It's beautiful just the way it is. I work really hard to keep my body in shape and I should thank you (body) for taking all the beatings I've given you. I'm so sorry for not loving you all this time." This was the first conversation I think I ever had with my own body, but it woke me up. I started to look at old photos of myself in a new light. Where before I would nit-pick now I could see how beautiful I was even though I couldn't see it then. It's made me think about my recent photos I look at now and begin to criticize like we all do. I remember those old photos I looked back on and remember how beautiful I was even though I didn't think so then and it reminds me to see myself with my own soul's truthful eyes. That conversation stemmed from and provoke more daily affirmation statements about loving myself. It provoked more awareness in those many moments when I look myself in the mirror. It even provoked a very drastic action of cutting all of my hair off to really test my ability to love myself, but I'm a bit of an extremist so you don't have to take it that far, unless you want to ;D. Though now I can look at my own reflection and say to myself, "I Am Beauty", with conviction. Another and much deeper practice that I have used is a body meditation where you lay flat on your back with your palms up and start with your awareness at your feet thanking them for everywhere they've taken you, for giving you the ability to dance and the joy that brought you. You do this with each and every body part, thinking of all of the wonderful things that body part has done to serve you and your happiness all the way to the top of your head. My hair that has allowed me to express my creativity and taught me to love myself deeper. Another less intense version of this would be to give thanks to each of your body parts as you scan them in shower. Just saying "thank you" while you shower is enough to make a change within you. This is all just the tip of the iceberg. I could literally write a book on loving yourself and hopefully one day will. Learning to love yourself is a process just like learning to love another person. We must gradually fall in love with ourselves like we would a loved one. We must learn about ourselves and see from our true awareness. My goal is to be able to give myself all of the things I wanted the outside world to give me: recognition, security, support, inspiration...ultimately LOVE! The more I've learned to love myself the lesser those external challenges are beginning to become and more things I love are popping up in my life. I have a bit more to go on this road but today I truly feel honored to be who I am! I love the way I look most of the time, I've been able to be my own cheerleader when I'm feeling doubts about my talents and abilities because I now know the truth about myself. That I AM worth loving, that I DO matter, That I mean something to the God within ME! YOU are worth loving! In fact, you already are loved! But you will never be able to recognize that love as your own until you allow love into your own heart! Please share with us your own experiences with learning to love yourself along with any comments or questions regarding this blog entry & THANK YOU so much for reading!!!