Learning to Love
`When was the last time you said to yourself -”I love myself”?. This was one of the first questions Budd Thompson, originator of the Bodylife system asked students. The answer was almost invariably, `I never have`.
Learning how to love yourself is an essential step in personal development.
We need to differentiate between loving, and liking. Liking
can imply condoning or agreeing with, accepting because it fits our standards. Liking
can be conditional. Love is different.
Love is unconditional. When we love someone it does not mean that we condone
their conduct, agree with something they have done, or love simply because there is a similarity between them and ourself. In loving we may still disagree, abhor or strongly dislike some aspect of a person, but we do not stop loving them. A parent may
be driven to distraction by an errant son or daughter (of whatever age) but to stop loving that child is almost unknown.
In learning to love ourself we are going beyond any physical, or mental limits. We are trying to find the inner person, the real you. In the
process we have to start where we can. For most of us that is with the physical
body. Tom Bianchi, a Californian photographer was often berated for apparently
only ever taking photographs of beautiful people. In response he wrote a short
essay entitled `In Defense of Beauty`, where he quotes from the Upanishads the simple statement. `What you see, you become`.
When we see only ugliness and despair in everything around us, it is very difficult to maintain
a positive outlook. When we open ourselves to the constant message - You are
not perfect, because you are too thin, fat, old or whatever, is it any wonder that we begin to think along those lines? We allow our opinions to be defined by those of others. Like a virus in a computer, the invidious thought can spread. My
body is not perfect, therefore my mind is not perfect. I am a weak person, or
a bad person, therefore I am not worthy of being loved. I cannot love myself.
Let us start at Base level. Learning to love yourself
may be a difficult and long term project, but in the end it can only be worthwhile.
If you are fortunate you may already be there, or achieve that situation very quickly.
Be aware however that it is not egotistical love that we are hoping to find.
Love created by the ego can very easily be a love of vanity or feeling of superiority over others.
Jesus said: `Love your neighbour, as you would love yourself`.
Learning to love yourself, so that you can love your neighbour takes on an even greater significance.
day make a habit of seeing the beautiful and the positive in things around you. Find
something, however small and apparently insignificant, which you think is beautiful.
It may be a single drop of rain on a leaf, or a whole landscape. Give
thanks for the rain just as much as for the sun. Each has their place.
to look for the beautiful and the good in other people. Each time you hear yourself criticizing, moaning or gossiping about someone else, stop and think. Are you just fulfilling expectations?
a look at your wardrobe. Even your clothes may well affect your self confidence
and moods. Try on the things you have, and ask yourself the questions:
Do I still like this? One assumes you did when you bought it, but ideas
Do I feel good in it? Does it enhance the look of the person you think
you are? Is it likely to lift my spirits or depress them? Get rid of any that are dragging you down.
a look at your home. The expression, `A change is as good as a rest`, has a point. Do your surroundings sparkle? Or have
they slumped into the same lethargy in which you find yourself. If so, get out
the paint tin, or even move a few ornaments around. Keep fresh flowers, or house
plants near you.
your address book. This isn`t to weed out old addresses, but to reexamine your
friendships and relationships. Try to encourage more contact with those people
who you find to be positive and stimulating. Wean yourself away from those who
are negative and who pull down your spirits.
tall. It doesn`t really matter whether you have the perfect body or not. Making the most of what you have is important.
Poise and awareness of your movements give you a feeling of stature and gracefulness.
Stand with your feet on the Earth and with your head in the sky. Walk tall, and step lightly.
aware of what you are reasonably good at - not the same thing as perfect - and focus on those.
You may be a good gardener, a cook, driver, talker, or a good friend. Feel
pleasure in being good at something. Remember everyone is good at something.
aspects of your life may be life enhancing, others of negative value. Resentment,
regrets, fears, anxiety, insecurity, are all a part of the human condition. Be
aware of your weaknesses. Ask yourself, if your friend came to you with those
problems, could you help, would you be supportive. If you can say yes, then remember
you can be a friend to yourself, be supportive, have fun together. This is one of the most important steps in learning to
love yourself. Accepting your self with those imperfections.
to practise meditation regularly. Try to find the sense of inner peace. When you fail, do not give up, try, try again.
Just watch those chaotic thoughts screaming and tumbling about in your head.
Listen to them like a mother listening to a crying child. Give yourself
a mental hug.
10 Imagine that
in the centre of your chest is a deep well. as you breath in, imagine that you
are drawing love into yourself from the air around you. Pour it into the well
until it fills to the brim, and begins to over flow. Feel the love fill your
heart and spread throughout your body. Feel a warm glow of love and realise that
this is the love that we all have inside us. We need to feel it within ourself. Try giving it away and you will find that it just keeps increasing, once you have
the feeling for it. Revel in the warmth of the feeling of well being, and say
I love Me