Like most people, I’ve had a lot to learn about love—both personally and in witnessing the struggles of thousands of clients in my profession as a holistic health psychologist and speaker. I realize more and more each day that love of self is our biggest and most daunting obstacle on our evolutionary path. While we long for love and acceptance from others, we often fail to shower ourselves with the same.
The origin of “love” is interesting, stemming from the word luf, a Middle English word from the early 1300’s which meant “a beloved person”. This definition immediately makes me question how many of the 7.5 billion people on this planet fully love themselves. I’d venture to guess that the answer is very few.
As my understanding about self-love has evolved, it is undeniable that each and every concern, stressor, or conundrum we experience as part of the human condition stems from this lack of personal affection. When we are overweight, it is mostly likely because we love the comfort of eating food more than we love taking care of ourselves in healthier ways. When we remain in harmful relationships, it is because we love the idea of being in one more than we love ourselves to find one that is more fulfilling. When we allow others to mistreat us in our workplace, it is because we love our prestige, paycheck, or professional identity more than we do our personal well-being. Body-image, perfectionism, negative self-talk, workaholism, substance abuse, lack of motivation, low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness, unwillingness to communicate, and any other “condition” we experience as part of our human circumstances all originate from a scarcity of self-love. When we dismantle the demons that hold us back from our growth and evolution, a lack of self-love is always revealed at the center of the concern.
You see, at the core of soul health is self-love. Without this key element, no one sustains permanent change and no one fully evolves. We must love ourselves enough to tackle our individual challenges of the human condition—our unique experience of every aspect of our daily lives. Without this exploration and the determination to align our lives according to our soul’s needs and desires, our growth remains stunted. This stagnation hinders our ability to both evolve and create a more radiant life.
I just returned from a trip out west with my best friend of nearly 35 years. We went to see a Lady Gaga concert in Las Vegas as well as visited Death Valley National Park (travel, time with close friends, live concerts, and national parks all feed my soul and serve as acts of self-love in my world). While on the adventure, we somehow got on the subject of how people have learned to love self and others. Lady Gaga’s main message is to be yourself at all cost (as told in her song “Born this Way” and others). Most consider her to be bizarre and off-the-wall, but it is clear that she is working on her own expression of self-love—something that is much desired by those who appreciate her work as an incredibly talented performer. My friend and I talked about how we learn to see love through the lenses in which we were raised but have to learn a new and healthier form of acceptance as we outgrow the old ways and become our own person. We must break the chains of unhealthy love—both for self and others—in order to evolve.
The topic also came up in my recent Color My Soul for 2019 one-day retreat as we discussed our willingness to receive what we want most in life. Someone posed the question, “Can you imagine how the world would be if everyone loved themselves?” A brief silence followed as the group pondered this foreign concept, but all who were present clearly understood how much this would change the way the world functions as a whole.
This question also reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague while publishing the first edition of Soul Health. She asked me where I thought we were evolving to—and I quickly replied “To Oneness”. The truth is, the more we love ourselves and align with our souls, the more we also align with other people—with other souls as well. In finding our deepest and brightest inner peace, we learn to express and share what everyone desires— a contented harmony that begins in our depths and radiates outward to others. This light converges to create a greater sense of connection with every other soul—oneness between all that exists. Nothing can feel wrong or disconnected in this state of being, because the troubles and fears of the human condition no longer have a negative impact on us. Instead, we rise above the human condition and evolve beyond it, simply observing ourselves in our everyday lives instead of becoming absorbed by our daily challenges. Loving self allows us to better love one another.
Clearly we have a very long way to go, particularly with the current political and emotional state of our country. But just for one brief moment, pause to recognize how loving yourself even just a little bit more would change your life. Take that feeling a step further and imagine where your life would be if you fully loved and embraced who you are as a soul.
- How would your relationships change?
- Would you treat yourself differently?
- What would change in your daily life?
- Which unhealthy patterns or behaviors would cease to exist?
- How would you embrace life if you lived it through complete self-love?
Observe any resistance to fully loving yourself and take this as a cue that work needs to be done to unblock the beloved within you so you can let your soul shine brightly.
Self-love matters most in our evolutionary path. By becoming your own beloved, not only does this allow you to overcome your most challenging concerns, it also paves the way to optimal soul health—the path to Oneness. This is the path to ultimate love.
Doesn’t that sound better than the way we currently live our lives?