I am in a constant state of curiously wondering what self love actually looks like. Is it discipline? Is it allowing yourself to be exhausted when you need to recharge? Is it fiercely staying true to who you are, and wish to become regardless of what others may think? Is it setting boundaries to protect yourself and your energy at all costs?
I think it is all of the above. Yet in order to truly understand what self love is, we must understand both part of the word. We must understand self, and we must understand love.
To understand self, we must begin to know self. We must know ourself as deeply as possible. The phrase to “Know Thyself” is a powerful one that is heavily debated in philosophy and carries over not just into psychology, but has implications for the entirety of our existence. In ancient mystery schools, before one could begin the journey and become and Initiate, one must master their self. We each must take the brave journey to face the darkness that is within all of us. We must face the shadow side and wholly incorporate it into our everyday life.
It is so much easier said than done, thus why many opt to not do this work. I struggle with my darkness daily. I dip into depression on what seems like a cyclical nature and struggle with my inner demons. Yet having gone through it a time or five, I have come to understand that it is there to teach me something. I recently went through one, and I am just now coming out of it. It taught me that I can quite easily get lost in the day to day and neglect myself. So I stop what I am doing for a time, take a day of when needed, and tune into what my body, mind, spirit, and the universe are all trying to tell me. SLOW DOWN and BE EASY ON YOURSELF, is usually what the message is.
There is nothing wrong with depression, there is nothing wrong with anxiety or any other type of mental health for that sense. It is all a way of the body telling us that there is something off. They body is only able to speak through emotions and health. When we are out of balance, those two things fly off the wall. If we swing too far out of balance, we can find ourselves gaining weight and lost in a cycle of depression. When we stop and contemplate the self, we are better able to understand what we need, and we are able to take a moment and focus on love.
But what actually is love? Is it the feeling that we get when we look at those we love? Or is it something much more. Love is both a noun and an action word. It is both being and acting at the same time. Jesus states in Matthew 22:39, “the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.” Corinthians 13: 4-8 puts it beautifully, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Love accepts the faults in others because it sees the depths of faults within itself. It is perfect, and whole in itself yet delights in the action of giving of itself to all those around. It does not hold onto grudges because it knows how easy it is to cause pain to another on accident. It forgives without question because it understands the frailty of life and beauty of time. LOVE CONQUERS ALL. Love is the single thing that all people desperately hope for and fully understand. Love is the driving force of the universe. Source or God, or whatever you wish to call it, in its infinite wisdom created all out of love.
Thus self love is the expression of the universe looking back on itself in the realization that it is one with all things, sees no faults in another and sees no faults in itself. We will stumble, we will fall. We’re busy learning how to be human. But in this human, we are able to love. While we may never be able to fully understand what it means, we are able to glimpse into the infinite and unnamable with love.