For years I have heard gurus touting the idea that happiness is found when you can truly “love yourself.” Love yourself. Great. WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN? I didn’t hate myself. I thought I pretty much loved myself. But I wasn’t getting the results that they said I would. So I went within to see if I could discover what I was missing. I started meditating. I found all sorts of other stuff – courage, confidence, a sense of peace, that was completely new to me, but didn’t feel any closer to this idea of “loving myself” as a cure-all for life’s woes.
But in this past year, as I took steps to heed the call to the Hero’s Journey (as described by Joseph Campbell), I have come closer to understanding what “loving yourself” entails.
Loving yourself requires:
As I look back, I see all the ways that I compromised myself in the decisions that I made. I see how I rationalized because I wanted something to work out, not because it was the perfect fit, but because it was easy and safe. I could go back and re-write my history by looking at each turning point in my life and instead of choosing fear, choosing love.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that I regret anything that happened in my past. Everything I went through made me the person that I am today. It was part of my learning process and I grew so much from each trial. I made my decisions based on what I had learned thus far. I reacted unconsciously, but of course I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.
But now I see.
I couldn’t “love myself” completely because I wasn’t respecting myself. I wasn’t listening to my Soul’s desires.
Throughout my life there have been many forks in the road where I was uncomfortable (a slight understatement) with where I was and had the chance to make a different choice. Yet I stayed where I was. I thought I was being resolute, faithful, tenacious, and committed. I was showing that I was not afraid of challenges and hard work. All good qualities, right? So I was taught. They are all honorable qualities, IF they are aimed in the right direction and the right direction is me. If I showed myself the same virtues that I bestowed on the external world, I would have experienced life in a very different light.
So, what held me back? Fear. We all grow up with many familial and societal expectations. There are some that we inherited from our parents when we were very young and others that we took on from our peers in our school-age years. By the time we reach adulthood we have so much baggage it’s a wonder we can get around! We spend so much of our time trying to live up to all of the mores that we lose sight of who we truly are at our core, at the Soul level. We make choices based on those mores and the fear of what will happen if we don’t follow them – whether we go to college or not, what we choose to do for our vocation, whether we get married or not, have children or not. We are influenced one way or another by this baggage thrust upon us by others. And we’re scared to death of what will happen if we go against those ingrained expectations.
That is, until we reach that turning point. The point where we’re so unhappy that we can’t go on without a change, which is where I ended up in 2016. I finally realized that the only thing I need to be responsible to is my Soul. If I pay attention to what intuitively feels good, I trust it is in alignment with my Soul’s desire. Instead of choices based on fear, I resolve to make choices founded on love – love for myself - despite what anyone else thinks. This is true authenticity. This is loving myself. And this is what freedom feels like.
With Much Love and Light,