The Truth About Self Love
When I was in high school our French Club sold flowers for Valentine’s Day as their yearly fundraiser. The entire week leading up to big day volunteers set up a table near the cafeteria at lunch time and students placed orders to surprise their boyfriend or girlfriend, sometimes a best friend. On Valentine’s Day, the carnations, red ones and white ones, arrived from the florist in five gallon buckets. Excitement filled the halls as members of the French Club delivered them by hand to the classrooms.
I remember sitting in Mr. Herschel’s Government class, wishing, hoping and praying for one of those French club members to walk through the door, call out my name and hand me my carnation. It would prove that somebody loved me. But that’s not what happened. When the hustle and bustle in the hallways died down, most of the class sat admiring the flowers they received, while I doodled paisley swirls along the edge of my government folder, smiling and pretending it didn’t matter.
You see, at the time I didn’t have a boyfriend or even a best friend so it would have taken a miracle for me to get one of those flowers. And back then, I didn’t really believe in miracles and neither did I believe that love would ever find me. If cupid had an arrow for me, it had clearly missed its mark.
Of all the things we learn about in school, or in life, Love is the least understood.
As a young adult, I thought love was something I had to get from other people like my parents, or a boyfriend, and then later a husband. I thought love was something I had to earn, like a trophy or badge for doing all the right things. Things like offering to do someone’s laundry or walk their smelly dog, ugh!
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I was a complete failure in the “love” competition.
After failing at marriage, dropping out of school twice and quitting countless jobs, I knew I only had one thing left to do. I needed to learn how to love myself.
There’s a lot of talk these days on social media about the importance of loving yourself and it’s getting a pretty bad rap from people who think it’s selfish and narcissistic. They say we should focus on loving others, not our self. But the conversation going around is only the tip of the iceberg, like the surface experience of a much greater truth about who we are. Self Love is way more important than most people think.
And I get it, for years I struggled with this idea of self love. From the outside it might appear as if I was busy getting all my needs met, taking care of myself and doing things I wanted like buying new clothes, getting massages, manicures, and going out with friends. But none of these experiences made me feel any more loved than the marriage I left behind. However, all the while I was busy doing, I was also telling myself things like, your worth is non-negotiable. No one determines your value but you. And you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Most importantly, I have a distinct purpose in this life and I intend to live it.
You see, as I made my way through life making mistakes and leaving behind messes, trying to figure out the best ways to take care of myself, I discovered an important Truth about human beings. Self Love is a practice and a process that leads us back to the Soul, the source of love for each and every one of us. Learning self love introduces us to our authentic self, the place where we interact with our divinity.
When we don’t love ourselves, we expect other people to do it for us and we feel hurt and angry when they don’t, or when they don’t do it well enough.
And I’m here to tell you that no one could ever do it well enough. No one else carries the map to your soul. No one else holds the key to unlock your authentic self. Only we know these secrets and we discover them when we learn to love who we are and what we’ve been given to offer the world.
Love is our greatest power. It allows us to be fully human – Practicing love is the only way to affect real and lasting change in our circumstances and with other people. Once you begin to recognize yourself as love and begin sharing that out in the world in the way you talk to other people, respond to challenging situations, and handle negativity coming your way, your life will change! People will suddenly appear to be on your side. People will offer you things before you even know you need them. People will help you when you least expect it. And in these moments, the experience comes full circle, when you fully realize the love in you is also the love in others and there’s nothing in between.