Many of us speak of self-love, but how many of us contemplate what that actually means? If we took the time to break it down, what would that truly feel like? This topic has been on my mind a lot this summer. What is genuine self-love, self-appreciation, self-compassion, or self-respect? When you’re alone, do you enjoy your own company? Would you want YOU as a friend or a lover?
When I fall in love with someone, I want to give them the very best of me. I genuinely want to see them shine and feel truly fulfilled in life and love. They are in my heart and I’ve got their back.
Imagine the last time you fell in love. Visualize their face, the way they gazed upon you, their voice as they spoke to you, their intoxicating scent. Look into their eyes, feel their presence. Feel your heart opening to them. Feel the desire you have to give them the best of your love.
Now imagine you are looking into your own eyes.
Your lover/friend is now YOU.
Do you desire to give the best of yourself to YOU?
To treat yourself with compassion and love?
Are you attracted to who you are as a person?
Do you want to treat yourself right and support your overall well-being?
To be truly great at anything, we must practice. We could look at self-love as a practice where we aim to align our thoughts, habits, and actions from a place of self-respect, self-compassion and a genuine interest to live a joyful life.
Yes, there are times when I start to feel like this whole concept is too self-indulgent or borderline narcissistic. This is when it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Perhaps it’s true that we can only give to others through the filter of what we have given to ourselves. How we treat ourselves is reflected in how we interact others. In TKV Desikachar’s interpretation of modern Kriya Yoga, he refers to a system that reduces internal suffering of the individual. In this system there are 3 categories of focus or practice: disciplined self-care, genuine self-inquiry, and connection/service to something larger than ourselves. In this model, self-love is cultivated along with a love for something more expansive than the individual. From this perspective, we could say that self-love is not an act of ego-based indulgence. It is a practice that enhances our overall well-being, improves our ability to genuinely be there for others, and allows us the tools to truly serve that which is meaningful to us.
The reverse may also be true. “Like attracts like” finds us spending time with people that treat us in a way that reflects how we think about ourselves. By approaching ourselves with appreciation, compassion and respect - we begin understand what those qualities feel like in our heart and soul. With practice, we become more able to discern, intuit and recognize how we want to move through the world and what types of relationships are healthy.