True love is unconditional, and that’s the only kind of love you deserve. Everything else is a transaction. So loving yourself truly means that you don’t need to be anything different, or achieve anything to justify self-love. That’s what makes the difference between loving yourself in a pure way, and vanity. A lot of people confuse the two, or deny themselves self-love because they think it’s selfish. Loving yourself means doing so with tenderness and vulnerability. It means being authentic and truthfully introspective.
Loving yourself means having compassion for yourself, it means fully understanding yourself, and it means that love is free of expectations. It means you love holistically – your mind, body, spirit, and everything about you. There are no “fixes” or “after the diet” or “when I get my hair done.” There is no vanity in it, because it’s not dependent on your physical look or how others see you. There is no selfishness it in because it’s not dependent on what you get out of it. There is no ego in loving yourself truly.
It can be the toughest thing you do. But it’s also the most critical. Without a foundation of pure loving kindness for yourself, how can you have unconditional love for another? This is the fertile ground upon which everything else grows. From ordinary social relationships to relationships of the soul; from general asana practices to spiritual yoga itself, the roots of all these are grounded in self-love. The deeper your love for yourself, the richer the inner soil, and the firmer the roots.
Of course it doesn’t mean being complacent about your inner state of affairs either. By definition, loving yourself means you want to nurture your growth as a human being – whether that means continuing education, or going to the gym, or yoga, or exploring deep spiritual dimensions. The point is that the love comes first, and the pursuits are a result of that love, they are a manifestation of that love. That self-love is not conditional or dependent on the success or failure of any pursuit. People who love themselves actually take more responsibility for themselves, how they are, and how they interact with the world.
Beyond that, loving yourself sets your energies into a particular alignment that facilitates all kinds of positive effects. Would it surprise you to know that people who demonstrate self-love heal faster and overcome serious diseases in a greater proportion? That makes perfect sense doesn’t it? And this has been well demonstrated by the lifetime efforts of Louise Hay. There is a kind of vibrancy in people who are in love with their being-ness, they just come across as somehow more alive, more in touch with life. They seem more grounded and able to flourish, and that’s just because there’s less friction between their inherent way of being, and the circumstances they may be in.
“Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.” – Byron Katie
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