The only way to truly love yourself is to know and accept yourself. We do it when we become one with another, so it is even more imperative with ourselves. If we cannot give or sync our hearts, minds, and lives with another unless we are in balance and aligned with our own being.
Self-loathing is not a good place to start but with some of us, that is where we must begin. I realized somewhere along my journey that the fascination with myself was not because I thought that I was great or special, but that I did not love, like or care for myself. In relationships, I was needy because I did not think I was worthy of love. So, I loved or showed affection to anyone who showed it to me. But, I would invariably drive them away. Strong and confident is an aphrodisiac; however, needy and doubt is repugnant.
It was when I realized that I did not show love, compassion or kindness to myself that I knew I had to know why. Instead of accepting myself along the way I fell down the rabbit hole of who or what broke and damaged me. I was transfixed on this instead of the why and the how. I was looking to blame someone. It is like the story the Buddha tells of the man who is shot with a poison arrow who wants to know who made the arrow, the poison, what kind of wood etc. instead of how to heal.
These distractions were shadow aspects of myself drenched with ego swimming in self-pity. That is no remedy for health or healing. What I needed to understand was that the journey to wellness and wholeness was not going to be easy. My healing process became something else that I warped and become attached to. Instead of following the dharma and the tenet of nonattachment – I increased my suffering.
In therapy, I discussed ancient wounds and hurts and dug in and repeated the same old narrative instead of moving forward I was going back and I started to feel justified in my sorrow. It was not until I discovered Stoic philosophy that I finally found a foothold and began to make some progress. I came to accept that there were certain things that were beyond my control and certain things that were in my control. I became aware and conscious of the difference and I accepted responsibility for what I had in my domain of control. I began to really monitor my thought and emotions. I began to know myself more and accept myself for who I was which made loving myself much less difficult.
I knew who I was. I was ok with me. I came to appreciate myself for what I had to offer and I knew now that I was worthy of love, especially from myself. Things began to radically change for me at this point. I could take responsibility for my own bullshit and correct habits and behavior which in turn made me a much better friend and co-worker etc. I could control my impulses and I was able to push thru tricky situations where before I would have tripped all over myself and shot myself in the foot, or put my foot in my mouth or made things worse.
I Loved Myself. Why shouldn’t I? I meant well. I cared. I was now on The Road to Truth. There are two mistake one can make along the Road to Truth – not finishing and never starting….