What does it mean to love yourself


“When you’re different,  sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”

              – Jodi Picoult
While self love have become a popular subject these days, I am one of those that still feels not enough attention is being given to it as it truly deserves yet, considering how important it is to the relationship we have with not only ourselves, but with others by way of deeper and authentic connections.
I also fear that people may be using it more as a hash tag than they should be practicing it in their lives for the benefits it brings upon us.
Although, I’ve written a lot here on self love, I thought to share it again in another very unique stand.
I’ve observed that we rarely talk about how we also show love to ourselves every time we learn to embrace our differences, especially in the face of much similarities starring at us. Or when these differences are not easily acceptable to the society.
For one, I’ve found that people may not have issues loving themselves if only they do not seem too different and not fitting to the class they so willingly want to be a part of.
Unfortunately, much of these differences are often the very things we hate about ourselves. So it becomes even harder to practice real self love with that hatred lying visibly present at the background as some shadow we wished was never part of our being.
We often assume this shadow as the reason we cannot just be all that we want to be. So we despise it. At least for daring to show up in our lives.
While there’s so much emphasis on self care as a means to showing how much we love ourselves, and how pampered we want to feel sometimes, even if that gesture would have to come from us to ourselves, it’s also now more salient we show that by being aware of our shadow, and admitting its presence as part of our being, we’re also showing love to ourselves.
It’s easy for anyone to love their strengths, and popularly accepted good traits. The challenge is usually with acknowledging the parts of us which we find ignoble, and therefore unworthy of being loved.
The shadow self is the part of our personality that contains all the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to admit to having. It’s much like the parts of us we’ve disowned, and would rather pretend does not exist.
The shadow then may be reckoned to those parts we despise or have labelled negative because the society we belong have termed it so. In order not to be seen as being different from everyone else, we may tag along and relegate this part of us to the background of denial and repression.
This shadow can show up in many forms.
The anger we have but feel ashamed about, the secret fears we work hard at covering up, the parts of our body we wished didn’t belong to us, the impulses, desires and emotions we consider ignoble, are all part of our shadow.
Every time we refuse to admit any or all of these, as also belonging to us, we show that we’ve not only separated the self, we’ve also rejected some parts of us. This is an open door to disharmony in our lives, and a part of the cause of the lack of love for who we truly are.
With this attitude, we repress these habits and feelings while we work hard at always showing up in our good traits only.
Again, by doing this, we have learned to divide the rather whole self into separate parts of differences. Because every time we divide ourselves into this idea of either the shadow or the good self, we are declaring that the one side is at war with the other. Therefore, there’s no unity with the self.
To experience the initial divine state of the self, which is whole and integrated as a full being called you, we must embrace our shadow as we do our good self, as if both were one.
Because they are.
We are the weaknesses we despise, as well as the strengths we are so proud of. All of the darkness is part of our existence. We must therefore embrace every part as one in order to have a full experience of our whole self. Therein lies the benefit of synergy: that our whole; all parts of our shadow and good self is greater than if we divide them as being separate.
It is with an attitude like this we can harmonize all of our differences and be at peace with ourselves. Otherwise the shadow we run from would always catch up with us.
However, when we show love to the shadow by taking ownership of all its eccentricities and capriciousness, we allow this awareness to shed light on the supposed darkness.
I am personally convinced that this is where we must begin the self love journey, if we’re truly serious about it. Because this concept gives us the opportunity to deal with those things we had learned to hate about ourselves, and to finally accept all without further judgment.
Fundamental acts of self love then is from this angle of integrating our inner darkness as one with our shining light, and in recognizing how each parts of this divide are all members of our being. And therefore not subject to being rejected.
To experience this journey of embracing the shadow self, we must become more aware of ourselves. Self awareness is the critical role we must be involved in if we’re serious about this synergy of the self.
Self awareness is to help us become more conscious in bringing those usual unconscious habits of despising our inner darkness, which had been modelled to us by the society, and allowing ourselves the space to intentionally respond in better ways of embracing all parts as full representation of you.
For me, this is the demonstration of profound love for the self. And it is what it means to experience synergy or be in harmony with the self. It’s how we were created to be; as whole and not separate, I believe, until we learnt to judge ourselves and created the unnecessary divide within the self.
When we do this, we show that we truly do love ourselves, and then make it easier to be loved, and to love others. This is so because the parts of us we reject would often be judged in others by us.
However, when we no longer judge it, and instead embrace it, and then take the necessary step to start working on it, we also develop empathy for other people’s shortcomings rather than rushing to judge them. This is good for better relationship experience with them.
If you’re courageous enough to make the decision to begin this principal journey, then you, of all people, would have declared to yourself, your commitment of true self love in the most pragmatic way possible.
I believe this is what it truly means to love yourself.
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To your successful evolution.
Joy Iseki.
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