‘Love yourself’ is fast becoming something of a buzzword these days (thank goodness!). But I only learned how important it is to love myself when I was in my late thirties (I say ‘learned’ but I think it is more a case of ‘remembered’ because I feel as children we intuitively know and understand the importance of loving ourselves). Can you imagine that!? I had all this family and all this education and what not, but something as important as this, I only figured out relatively recently. And the thing is, because I had lived in ignorance for so long, I had long been practising the opposite of loving myself for so long… and I had some strong momentum going in that direction. But hey, I’m not complaining! No Sir! I think I am pretty damned lucky if you ask me. At least I know now and I have time to do something about it.
Why Love Yourself?
‘So what’s the big deal with loving yourself?’ you ask. Well I’ll tell you – as best as I know. First off, since this post is part of a series on happiness, I will point out that it is near enough impossible to be happy if you don’t love yourself. Think about it, we are pretty much joined at the hip to ourselves from the time we are born to the time we die, so there is no way we can ever ‘un-friend’ or get rid of ourselves : ) Now just imagine how much fun we’re going to have in life if we are so closely attached to and followed by ‘someone’ who doesn’t love and approve of us. Yeah, not much right? So we can choose to either be our own best friend or our own worst enemy and if we want to be happy, then we have to go with the first option.
But it gets even more serious. If like me you believe that our ‘inner world’ creates our ‘outer world’ then if we don’t love ourselves, life is only going to reflect this back to us – in the form of illness, poverty, anger, depression, relationships that hurt and upset us and so on. And speaking of relationships, could we ever stand a chance of loving someone else, if we don’t really love ourselves? Probably not, right?
And here’s the scary part – I don’t think we need to actually loathe who we are for it to cause us problems in life. I think just neglecting to love ourselves – i.e. ‘forgetting’ or not giving it enough time and attention is bad enough. Like any relationship, our relationships with ourselves needs time, attention, nurturing and love in order to function and thrive. Anything less and we will no longer have a ‘healthy’ relationship and we all now know how much of an effect that can have on our lives.
I would like to illustrate the point by introducing you to my friend Kamal Ravikant. Kamal is someone who has had first-hand experience of going from neglecting to love himself to learning to love himself in a way that it transformed his life. In fact, his friends we so amazed at the transformation they saw in him that they twisted his arm to share his ‘secret’ with them. And when he did, they twisted his arm a little more to write about it. This is how Kamal’s book ‘Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It’ came to be.
In his book, Kamal shares his experience of being at a point in his life which he describes as being ‘rock bottom’ – his health had deteriorated, his business was failing and he was badly in debt. He says that during this time, a day of feeling depressed would have been a ‘good day’ because he felt much worse most of the time. He would lie in bed all day with the blinds shut. And then, one day, he made a wow to himself. He actually stumbled out of bed to write it down:
This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.
After he made this wow to himself, Kamal started doing some things on a daily basis to help himself to keep this wow. One of the things he did was to affirm or keep thinking to himself “I love myself”. Over and over again. At every opportunity. When ever he remembered. He would just say it in his mind: “I love myself”.
In addition to the above, Kamal began to meditate daily. He also learned to measure his decisions and choices on the basis of whether they would be in agreement with his wow or not.
Kamal describes how his health slowly improved. He then began feeling good about himself and about life. And then, he noticed something else – something he didn’t expect: his external life and circumstances also began to improve. He came across new business opportunities. His finances improved. And on it went, getting better and better. He describes how his life was transformed within a month! This is why he says:
As you love yourself, life loves you back. I don’t think it has a choice either. I can’t explain how it works, but I know it to be true.
You can listen to Kamal describing his experience in his own words …
I hope that you now get a sense of how important it is to love yourself. I should probably point out that this is one truth that keeps coming back to me over and over again. Whether I am reading Louise Hay, Kamal Ravikant or Abraham and Hicks, it keeps coming up: love yourself!
So now that we have looked at the importance of loving ourselves and shared in Kamal’s journey, you might ask, ‘how does one go about loving themselves?’ As you can appreciate, loving yourself could mean different things to different people, so I can only share what I have learned and done. With that said, here goes:
- Love and Accept yourself – Stop comparing yourself to others unfavourably. Learn to see and appreciate your own strengths and beauty. It’s ok to still admire and appreciate others, but let it end there. No comparing!
- Make time for yourself – It is all too easy to overlook this, especially when you are taught to put others and ‘important’ things like work before yourself. But this is YOUR life and it is YOUR happiness at stake, so you MUST take time for yourself to do the things you want to do. Period.
- Take care of yourself – Eat sensibly, exercise, get plenty of rest. Take naps. Take long, slow walks. Nurture yourself. Chill out and just be. You get it. You shouldn’t need to end up in hospital or worse in order to learn to take care of yourself.
- Be easy on yourself – Stop beating yourself up about ‘mistakes’ of the past (There are no mistakes. If you’re still here, then you learned and know better for next time, so it wasn’t any kind of waste.).
- Let go of anger and resentment – It has been said that “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” There seems to be some confusion as to who actually said this (some say it was the Buddha) but there is no disputing the truth of this statement – at least in my eyes. Do yourself a favour and move on. Don’t even hand the job over to ‘Karma’. Just write it all off if you can – spit out the poison – and move on.
- Only spend time around those people who love, respect and value you for who you are – If people put you down and make you feel small, stop hanging around them! There are over 7 Billion people on this planet, so for goodness sake find some nice ones to be around!!!
- Find work that you love and do that – This quote from Neale Donald Walsch nails it
Go ahead and do what you really love to do! Do nothing else! You have so little time. How can you think of wasting a moment doing something for a living you don’t like to do? What kind of a living is that? That is not a living, that is a dying!
This is pretty much all I could think of for now. But I’m sure you will be able to think of ways that you can love yourself. It’s the best job in the world and you are best candidate for it, so go do it now!