What does the term ‘self-love’ conjure from the shadowy depths of your imagination?
Do you see a burnt-out hippy, blind to the horrors of the world and their own shortcomings, bleating about the cosmic life force that creates rainbows and puppies?
What about a self-obsessed, narcissistic a-hole who’s so wrapped up in their own love they’re toxic to be around?
Or a reclusive monk, free from the daily struggles (but maybe that’s because they don’t have to work for a living)?
If you think one of the above, you’re not alone.
But there’s another way to see self-love:
Think of the love a parent has for their child, or a person towards their pet. It’s different from firey, passionate, romantic love.
In a way, it’s deeper.
It comes with related bundles of things to feel. There’s a sense of obligation, in a good way – that comes from being a protector. There’s true acceptance of their mistakes, who they are and what they’re trying to be.
You feel compassion for their struggles and proud of their triumphs.
That’s the sort of self-love that works best. Not obsessive lust or intense fixation but relaxed, open and proud.
When you bring this quality to yourself, a few amazing things happen.
You begin to feel calmer, happier and more focused. Not hard to see why, since you’re not wasting energy berating yourself then suppressing your inner critic.
You begin to notice more in other people, seeing them for who they really are.
You’re less distracted by your own self-deceptions so you can focus on what needs doing.
One of the criticisms of meditation is it makes you more self-absorbed. I get that, because it can. When that happens, it’s often because they feel the wrong sort of self-love.
If you keep this idea in the back of your mind – the love a protector has towards what’s precious to them – you’ll only become better the more you love yourself.
So think on that as you read through this book: