I was going through some deeper experiences in self-love the past few years. Today I watched the video posted at the bottom and thought of a friend of mine, who consistently said they didn't understand this "self love" everyone was always talking about. Frankly, I didn't understand why, and attempted many times to explain that it was meeting our needs on all levels and all kinds of self-care, from:
Physical: eating right, sleeping enough, drinking enough water, exercising, relaxation, etc.
Emotional: listening to the feelings that arise (good and difficult ones) so the challenging ones don't get stuck in the body creating a physical challenge and the good feelings really sink in (are received) ; saying nice things to ourselves; removing old emotional patterns and programs that no longer work, etc.
Mental: removing mental programs and patterns that also aren't effective; thinking good thoughts about ourselves and our lives, the world, others; studying things we enjoy ~ therefore expanding our knowledge about the physical world; etc.
Spiritual: meditating ~ deep breathing ~ or whatever method allows us to create connection with our Higher Self / Soul and other beings around that love, protect, and care for us; listening to our intuition; energetic exercise and boundary; etc.
If we don't love ourselves, we can't truly love another. What would we give? Some hollow or fake version of love? Even the airlines know you have to pull your own oxygen mask down before assisting others.
So, beyond all the ways to love the whole of ourselves, let's talk about a deeper level of love. One that doesn't arrive until we are faced with some life circumstances that can be traumatic, disturbing, and/or challenging. Those that bring up feelings of great loss, grief, fear, etc. and with it, our potential shadow (greed, envy, manipulation, deception, etc.).
Certainly, if the challenges are arising in a relationship, we can choose to focus on the other and what we perceive they are doing "wrong" ~ therefore going into shadow: blame, projection, manipulation, etc. ~ but why would we do this? In the end, that just seems to be harmful to ourselves... stopping or seriously slowing our soul's life path plan, possible opportunities for experience, healing, growth and embodiment.
If it's possible to embody our true divine nature, while living in a human life, and we found out we'd stopped that process just because we didn't wish to see or feel something, I'd think we'd be seriously disappointed later. I know I would. We are the only person that can create, or un-create, anything that life presents to us and we must, as Gandhi said, " Be the change" we wish to see in the world. When we are triggered ~ it is clear we have work to do inside.
Loving Our Light
It is easier to love the things about ourselves that were programmed "good" by our parents, friends, religion, society, etc. Although many don't receive compliments or appreciation well, most people know the familiar warm fuzzy sensation our ego feels when our parents or a friend say something about our character they admire, or show gratitude for something we have done that they recognize as valuable. However, what about loving, in ourselves, what we've been taught by society is unacceptable? Why would we want to do that? Shouldn't we strive to change it? Or better yet, do what most of us have been taught to do, which is to hide it? If we love it, it stays, right? This "love your shadow" business could be rather confusing... so I'm going to attempt to explain from experience.
Loving Our Shadow
With challenging situations often comes our shadow (greed, envy, manipulation, deception, grief, fear, anger, etc.). Now, in certain situations, these shadow aspects of ourselves could come in handy. Imagine being in Nazi Germany in the concentration camps and having to lie to save your, or another, life. In that case, it might be appropriate to be deceptive, manipulative, etc. However, imagine we just use that energy in a relationship to control and get what our ego wants from the other. Big difference, right?
So, is it possible we need the dark to grow ourselves? To see where our energies are not in alignment? What would we create if we were handed a white room and a white crayon upon entering the Earth? Not much. So, if we grow from the contrast... how do we do that when what we are seeing is something inside of us we don't like? It's easy to run away from someone else that has traits we don't like. Even if what we don't like is also inside of each of us and the other is just holding a mirror to give us the opportunity to explore ourselves more deeply. Yet, it is difficult for most to choose to see themselves honestly. It's much easier to judge, blame, project, condemn another than to go inside and make sure that "like" energy is clear inside ourselves. However, ultimately, it's impossible to run from the self, because, "Wherever you go, there you are" and people will just continue to show up and do to us what we are doing to ourselves until we heal inside/out.
Another thing that can happen is that because there are so many wounded people on the planet, we aren't attracting it by holding that energy inside, but because our energy lights up their wounds so clearly, they wish to attack us, so as not to go within. Think Jesus on the cross here and what he was bringing up that many were maybe not choosing or ready to see at the time. In any case, only we can know by being entirely honest inside ~ working on ourselves with humility ~ and not advising others unless asked ~ or we ask if they wish to hear our perspective. Just because we have a perspective, does not make us "right". If we ass-u-me (make an ass out of you and me) without questions to be sure there's not something in there for us to also see within, and begin to blame, project, or at worst name call without calmly and lovingly attempting to deliver the message a few times, before more harshly challenging someone, then we are in negative ego ~ pure and simple.
We have zero idea about anyone's path ~ no matter our perceived gifts and abilities and this is why Jesus tried to teach us not to judge. I once had an encounter with a "psychic healer and spiritual teacher" who said, "I'm here to save the world!" (and basically, anyone who doesn't do as I say and take my orders, needs to step aside). It was clear to me that she wanted others to hear her, but she wasn't listening and unfortunately, that's not how energy works. Often, but not always, when we aren't listening, we aren't listened to very well. When she mentioned others telling her she was in ego, she insinuated they were just wrong. The wounded energy in our egoic structure can be so devious and develops more tricky ways to hide as time goes along. Bottom line, is the only person we can work on is us ~ not the world first. So looking into the mirror is an extreme act of courage and strength. We love our shadow by seeing and feeling it, to heal it ~ by using love alchemy (allowing and acceptance) to transform ourselves.
Gifts in the Shadow?
What if our shadow also includes our hidden abilities? The things that we've repressed, aren't readily seen by ourselves or others, like our intuition, creativity, maybe something that's not readily accepted by our families, society, etc. Then what? Do we continue to pretend we don't have this ability -- one that might help a lot of people who need it -- or do we decide to come out from the shadows and be the authentic, vulnerable, and unarmored divine creators we are?
Perhaps this question of light/dark deserves more conversation... since unfortunately, humanity has been known to destroy most who came with new ideas that weren't known before. For example: that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, or those who knew how to use herbs for healing being burned as evil witches. So often in history our best and brightest stars ~ here to teach us a great deal ~ are imprisoned, tortured, killed.
So, what if wonderful new ideas often come hidden and only a few can see the benefits at first? What if "darkness / shadow" is sometimes just ignorance about what's hidden from our understanding that we don't want to see / embrace? What if it's anything we are fearful of in ourselves, others, and/or the world? Now... I'm not saying that we seek out darkness by any means... it will surely show itself to us when it's time, but when it does reveal, please let's not run and hide from it. What we embrace ~ we erase... What we resist ~ persists.
However, about the saying, "Just because you stepped in shit, doesn't mean you have to stand in it", I also agree. We don't love a seed by pushing it back underground, whenever it tries to sprout. We would NEVER grow anything that way! It's important to get the growth as rapidly as possible and uncover the beautiful flowers that we truly are.
Deep Dark Night?
What if we ~ or our life ~ fall into a big vat of cow manure and like quicksand, the more we struggle and resist, the deeper down we go? When do we stop struggling and let ourselves be immersed in the dark -- the deep rich soil or manure that may just be helping us to grow into something else. A flower more beautiful than we could ever imagine... the embodiment of the true, whole, unarmored, and authentic divine beings we are.
Some seeds stay in the ground a lot longer than others. Some only bloom every other year. Well, maybe sometimes we are a biennial plant? Or maybe we bloom in 7-year cycles? Only we know when it's time to rest ~ or take deep-rest ~ and when it's time to grow. If we try and try and try to rise above ~ because that pushing worked before ~ but it's not working now, maybe it's time for a creative new way of being? Maybe it's time to shed something we valued for years: a pattern, a habit, a belonging, a person? Maybe it's not time to let go of anything on the physical level, but our ego's attachment to the way we expect life to happen or people to be?
If we want to change something energetic (emotional, mental, or spiritual) in us ~ we don't just change it by action (physical) ~ we have to apply energy to change energy.... and certainly the energy of love is the greatest balm for everything. See it, feel it, embrace it with love and despite the depth of pain, it will shift faster than hiding, running, judging, projecting, or blaming ourselves or others.
When it comes right down to it ~ on an energy level ~ the only way to see / feel and heal our shadow is to monitor our flight, fright, freeze, and fuze patterns. When reactivity has left the building and response has entered, we have arrived. When we accept WHAT IS.... not how we WANT it to be, we can feel peace no matter what's happening outside.
And remember... self love is not egoic narcissism ~ where we are fine and everyone else is all messed up. Self love is SEEING and FEELING all of us -- light and shadow -- which is VERY HEALING. Perhaps these unaltered spirit orb pics will help you, as they did me? Before taking them in my meditation space years ago, I'd only seen orb pictures as all light -- no shadow. However, it's almost as if they were trying to help me understand through my "dark night" that even those in spirit have yin / yang energy -- assisting me in a deeper understanding that what's hidden, isn't always "bad" -- but just hidden and it's up to us as to what we do with it.
Thanks for leaving a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Many blessings to you on your self-love journey
The video ~ I mentioned at the top ~ which has some great points on this subject. I hope you enjoy and please leave me a comment if you have anything to say. I'd love to hear from you!
HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF by Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal