Self-love, the new religion
Living the highest expression of oneself as a human being
By Aditi Raman Shridhar
You will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal; and that is to fulfil the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you,” Oprah Winfrey
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive,” theologian Howard Thurman.
For human beings to feel worthy and do good in the world, it is necessary that they feel contented with themselves first. The entire theory about loving others unconditionally and putting others before oneself is a thoroughly misunderstood concept. This is because ‘Altruism’ is impossible to practise without having a high self-esteem, regard and kindness for oneself.
Interestingly, self-love has always been seen as a moral flaw, akin to vanity, selfishness and conceit. It was only in 1563 when philosophers William James and Erich Fromm studied human behaviour in great depth and concluded that self-esteem and love for oneself was crucial to a happy life. Fromm explained that self-love was different from being egoistic or conceited. It was about being kind to oneself and being gentle and loving. Knowing oneself realistically and being honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses was fundamental to practising self-love in the right way.
Self-love gained momentum with the Hippie movement in the United States of America in 1960s when people witnessed the devastating effects of the war in form of depression, loneliness and hopelessness. People came out to the streets to protest anger and hate and demanded that peace and love prevail. The goal was to promote positive energy and enthusiasm and lift people up from sadness. Self-love was also accompanied with the restoration of environment and preservation of the oceans and greenery.
Self-love was also used as a radical tool in black communities in the United States in 1970s. The slogan ‘Black is beautiful’ became a way for African-Americans to throw off the white beauty standards. During this time, the ‘afro’ hairstyle also became popular in which the black hair was let to grow naturally and not straightened with a hot comb. The hair was teased to make it fluffy and look like a halo around the head so as to enhance the blackness of the wearer. This form of self-love and empowerment during the 70s was used by African Americans to combat the stigma against their skin colour and hair texture.
Philosopher Robert H. Wozniak claimed that self-love must be measured in “… three different but interrelated aspects of self: the material self (all those aspects of material existence in which we feel a strong sense of ownership, our bodies, our families, our possessions), the social self (our felt social relations), and the spiritual self (our feelings of our own subjectivity)”.
Interesting facts about Love
People can love you only as much as you love yourself
“Falling in love with yourself will give you a lifelong romance that never disappoints and never wanes,” therapist Marisa Peer.
Peer says that people can only love you as much as you love yourself. When you know your self-worth, everyone else will know it too. Repeating statements such as ‘I am enough’, ‘I matter’, and ‘I am lovable’ can reinforce your positive empowering beliefs to literally transform your life. Self-love does not mean putting oneself on a higher pedestal than others, but simply that you regard yourself worthy enough to help change the world and uplift the people around you with love. Self-love helps in loving others more as well.
Peer says that as a therapist she has met many people who don’t like themselves and by extension create lives that they don’t like either. In contrast, when she meets happy people who love themselves, she notices how much they love their lives too. It is not because they have not faced any adversity or had perfect parents and situations, but because they have learned to self-dialogue and redirect their insecurities and fears around rejection and believe in themselves.
Love is a sweetness of emotion coming from within and not outside
In any relationship, love is simply the sweetness of emotion one feels towards the other person. This emotion is not triggered externally but comes from within. A person falls in love with another person because they see a reason to enhance their own life in some way and not because the other person is of a certain kind. The beliefs that love is not available to me, I can’t find my perfect match, no one can love me the way I want are extremely misleading as Love for self or another person is an internally triggered emotion. An unrequited love is heart-breaking, sure, but it only happens because the other person doesn’t see the same reason or opportunity of enhancement in their lives from your company. Hence, love is solely an internal emotion and experience.
When you know you are enough, the whole world believes it too
When people see someone truly happy and content with themselves, they get an opportunity to shed their own insecurities. By being authentic and truthful to your own unique self, you give the world a chance to be the way it is. Human Beings have been pretending for a long time to show how happy they are, how content they are, how great their life is – after all the entire world of social media thrives on this addiction of looking the best version of oneself – but it is not true. It is grossly false. Imagine if women stopped applying makeup and being raw with their photographs online and looking confident and happy, wouldn’t those masking their spots feel like doing so too? Pretence and masking take up a lot of energy. It is time to shed them and be light. Won’t you agree?
I am enough! I matter! I am significant! I am capable! I am lovable! And I believe in myself are six powerful phrases that Peer swears by. She says these phrases when spoken out loud and repeatedly give a certain gumption from falseness and hopelessness that is indescribable and sets one free and helps them experience their true nature. Peer prescribes these phrases to any client who comes to her for treatment by telling them to write these down on their mirrors, desks, inside their notebooks, on their car dashboard and other places as a constant reminder of who they truly are. Her course Rapid Transformation Therapy advocates these six phrases and is widely used by multi-millionaires and billionaires around the world.
Seven powerful Steps to Self-Love
Self-love involves treating yourself with the same love, kindness, concern and support that you would show to a good friend.
Recognize that you are experiencing emotional distress – Recognising that there is a problem is the first step to solving anything. When you are mindful of your emotions and attitude in which you deliberately pay attention to your inner dialogue and experiences, you know that something is off and needs correction. This is the first step towards victory and self-love.
Accept that there is distress and give it a name – Always be specific with what you are feeling. If you are confused about what you feel and why you feel so, then the task of feeling better and getting past it is going to be hard. If someone has said something to you that was hurtful, recognise it and say it clearly out loud about what happened. Ask yourself what does it make you feel like – angry, guilty, sad, worthless or other emotions. Once you have accepted that you feel so and are clear about what you feel and what triggered it, changing your emotion to happiness will become easier.
Ask yourself why you feel it and when did you feel so for the first time in life – This is a crucial third step. Many a times we think we have got past a certain situation and hurt, however, our subconscious mind picks on every situation in great detail and absorbs it without us knowing that it did. It is therefore, crucial that this question be asked – that why do I feel hurt and when was the first time such a situation had occurred in my life the first time. Chances are that a similar situation would have taken place in your childhood when another elder or parent might have made you feel the same way, thereby creating a pattern of hurt within you, which you only repeat years later in your adult life.
Bring up the memory and visualise erasing it and filling positive affirmations in your mind – It is important that after step three, you close your eyes, take a deep breath, relive the situation and then visualise yourself erasing the scene and all its words, actions and emotions and people involved with a giant eraser. We are all just living out stories we manifested, so it is simple to recreate a new story and erase old ones. You can literally change your present and even a pre-destined future. Once you erase your story and the emotions and hurt associated with it, fill yourself up with loving words such as – I am filled with love and compassion. I am content and I love myself immensely. I love my life and everything is going the way I like.
Imagine what would you say to someone you love experiencing that feeling – This is by far the best step in the series as we are always gentle and kind with our loved ones but harsh with ourselves. Talking to yourself the way you talk to your best friend is the final step to success. You would never say to your friend – you are a worthless piece of human being, or you deserve nothing nice in this world, or you are hopeless. Rather even if we didn’t really believe in them, we would still give them words of encouragement. Do the same with yourself.
Change your belief – If you inherently believe that you are not good enough, bring up all the instances in your life that made you feel so. Then bring up all the instances in your life when you felt that you are extremely valuable to yourself and others. When you have even one contradictory experience, you can tell yourself and know for sure that your initial belief is false. Now bring up more positive experiences in your life when you felt worthy and valuable and cement the new belief. This can be done with any belief.
Be your own coach – Learn to become your own coach, learning from your and others experiences and only keeping the highest goals for yourself in life. Know that you are deserving and the fact that you are born is enough to make you deserving of all the love, joy, happiness and abundance in the world.
Self-love is an emerging religion of the world and must be. It is not about being narcissistic and putting oneself on a higher pedestal than others, rather being kinder, more compassionate and loving to oneself and all other life forms. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to practising self-love in the right way and experiencing true compassion, peace and gentleness is the only way forward to a brighter and happier world. Until next week.
Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian writer, healer and health instructor.