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?