A theme that has come up numerous times this week in my conversations with friends, clients and in my own experience is the importance of self-love. For those who are not well-versed in the lingo of personal development, that expression can often cause a raised eyebrow and a fair bit of resistance.
What the heck is self-love? And why is it important?
In my understanding and experience, self-love describes our relationship with ourselves. It includes how we treat ourselves and our bodies, how we talk to ourselves and ultimately, how we feel about ourselves.
Whether we realize it or not, the core of any spiritual practice is to connect to the Divine well of love that lives within us, which is the ultimate act of self-love. When we are connected in this way, we have access to the knowing that we are worthy of love, that we are enough and that we matter. From there, it becomes easier to be discerning in what thoughts we choose to entertain and listen to, what foods we put in our bodies, and what we say to and feel about the person in the mirror.
The topic of self-love is vast and the practices and habits that cultivate it are endless. The best part of cultivating this relationship with yourself is going on the journey of personally exploring and discovering what things really fill you up and cause you to feel whole from within.
For me, that list includes prayer, meditation, quiet mornings, Kundalini yoga, writing, mirror affirmations, reading passages from my favorite devotional texts, singing, dancing, getting cozy, taking hot showers, swimming, eating my favorite foods, and drinking water.
The reason that self-love is so important is because we are creatures that are ultimately driven towards connection and relationship. In order to show up in relationship and engage meaningfully, we have to come to the table with the ability to fill our own cup.
When our cup is always running on empty and we are always relying on others to fill it, we tend to use relationships in a way that is not sustainable, always needing to get something from others. What’s worse is that this disposition never results in true fulfillment because when we don’t know how to love ourselves, no amount of love from anyone else will ever be enough.
When our cup is overflowing with the love that we have cultivated from within, then we can truly give with no expectation of anything in return. When our cup is overflowing, we can experience relationship as an equal and engage from a place of wholeness and empowerment rather than from a place of insecurity and need.
So you see, self-love is not intended to be some narcissistic concept that us spiritual folk use to justify putting ourselves first all the time. When we look more closely, self-love is actually a selfless practice because it requires us to go beyond our place of individual need and perspective and be connected to the whole.
The best analogy that comes to mind is a healthcare system. We all have the need to be healthy and healed. The current system is set up so that whenever we have a need, we go to see the practitioner or specialist who can meet our need.
I saw Dr. Lissa Rankin speak this past weekend on the innate ability we all have to heal our own bodies with the power of our minds. This is a revolutionary concept and the implications for modern medicine and healthcare are immense. Imagine what the system would look like if each person took greater responsibility for and connected to their own self-healing ability?
We’d have a flourishing society and the healthcare and healing professionals would not be as burdened by the constant and endless demands of overly dependent individuals. There would also be an overflow of the supply of care and healing energy that would result from everyone’s choice to take care of themselves first before looking to others.
The same thing applies to love. When we love ourselves and fill our cup, we are being responsible for our own fulfillment and well-being. At the same time, we are cultivating the supply of love that we will have to share with others.
Can you imagine a world where everyone’s cup was overflowing with love and we were engaging with one another from the overflow?
It’s possible and it starts with each and every one of us looking in the mirror and saying “I love you.”
Give it a try
Chris Assaad is a singer/songwriter and inspirational artist from Toronto who left a promising career in law several years ago to pursue his dream of a career in music. Since then, Chris has been actively using his voice to enCOURAGE others to follow their dreams, express their creativity and live life to the fullest.
Chris is also a member of the TDL Mentoring team. To learn more about the TDL Mentoring Program click here.