“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth. ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.” – Hāfiz
What is Self Love?
On this surface, the answer might seem pretty simple, but I wonder sometimes if the prolific catchphrase of “self care” is being substituted for self love? In this ever changing, fast past world a large portion of the population has come to understand that we must take care of ourselves in order to survive.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”.
This phrase suggests that in order to offer love, care and attention to others we must first offer these things to ourselves. While I very much believe this to be true, I have begun to question the sustainability of my self care. I am all for going to a yoga class or getting a massage, and they do help to fill me up to a certain extent, but I am finding myself in a place where I no longer need or expect these things to keep me full … because the truth of it is, they can’t.
As I am diving deeper into my own personal development, one of the questions I have to come to ask myself is, is self care THE practice that extends straight through to self love? As I have taken my time to ponder this, I have come to understand that there are 2 different sources of love. External and internal.
External sources of love are things that we seek from outside of ourselves and bring in so that we can find a better sense of balance and therefore access our deeper feelings. (Insert self care practices here). This might also look like needing someone to love us in a particular way in order to feel fulfilled. While I too appreciate feeling cared for, loved and even pampered, what I have come to learn is these things do not create lasting results. They add a few drops of love into our bucket that quickly get drained when life happens to move in a direction that is not in line with our expectations. When we rely on outside sources to feel love, we run the risk of not feeling love when these outside sources fail us.
Internal sources of love can also have aspects of seeking out and bringing things in, but the motivation behind it is much different. Taking care of oneself is definitely an act of love, and in order for it to be sustainable, it requires us to believe that we are deserving and worthy of it, rather than needing it because we are drained. While self care makes up big pieces of the puzzle, it does not complete the picture. Real honest to goodness self love is an internal well spring that, believe it or not, we all have access to. It comes from a place deep within and benefits us with boundless amounts of appreciation and energy and cannot be sourced anywhere else. It requires nothing from the outside. It is amassed with acceptance of self and others. It is infinite.
Accessing your infinite source of self love is a process and requires patience and practice, but I promise you that it is so worth it. I don’t mean to sound prophetic here, like I’ve got it all figured out. I’m still learning. But the closer I get the more I can taste it, and the more I can taste it the more I can appreciate … everything. In the presence of this appreciation is where I feel my most joyful and loving.
5 THINGS I PRACTICE TO ACCESS SELF LOVE:
Keep my focus on myself:
While others might speak, act or behave in a way that I do not feel aligned with I must remember that everyone is doing the absolute best with what they know. Trying to control someone else’s thoughts or actions will only put me in a space of frustration therefor eroding my inner resources. While I cannot control what happens outside of myself, I can control how I choose to react and find my power from within.
Ask for what I want:
There is nothing more corrosive for me than feeling victim to someone else’s circumstances. This usually results in me creating a story that I don’t hold value or importance … and that just feels shitty. When I can get calm and grounded in myself and then ask for the time, space or resources to be able to meet my own needs then my whole energy shifts. It is an incredibly loving and empowering feeling.
Shift my energy:
My actions, thoughts, feelings, and physiology are all connected. If I happen to get stuck in a place where my ego wants to take control, I do something to shift my total behavior. By shifting one of these things the tendency is for the rest to follow. I might go for a walk, take a bath, turn on some music and dance or even force myself to laugh. You would be amazed how much a forced laugh will perpetuate true laughter and joy!
Another catch phrase we see a lot of these days is gratitude – the act of being thankful for something or someone. Appreciation is one step further. When I practice appreciation I take a moment to relive an experience that I am grateful for so that the energy of this experience can permeate into me once again. This will often shift my energy enough to come back to a place where I can rebuild my inner wealth or even bring me into a state of bliss!
When I am in judgement I am not in my authentic self. Judgement comes from my ego – a place where I am not feeling safe and protected. It is very hard to access real love from this place. In order to move from judgement into acceptance (without spiritually bypassing) inquiry and observation is required. Asking gentle questions of myself and others so that I can gain more understanding of the situation gives me the capacity to move into acceptance when my time is right. When I am in acceptance I am also in my authentic self where all my love lives.
“If you are searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror” – Unknown