The Enigma of Self-Love

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The ironic thing is that we look for evidence to validate our notion that we are bad. We see someone look at us funny and say, I knew it… nobody likes me. We think this somehow keeps us humble (we dare not think too highly of ourselves!) By putting ourselves down in this way, we think we are keeping ourselves closer to God. “I am not worthy, I am not good enough, I don’t deserve to experience all of the wonders of the universe or of God’s vision through myself. That experience is for women or men made of stronger stuff than I.” And to get evidence that we are not good enough (as we suspected,) is comforting in a way… it means I don’t have to work that hard, because I’m not going to amount to being fully enlightened anyway… I’m not going to amount to being a famous actor anyway, or write a novel, or remember my past lives, or develop psychic or healing powers, etc…. There is almost this sick satisfaction in saying, “see? I told you so… I’m broken.” But the ironic thing is that we think this self-deprecating voice is HELPING us!! It says, “Who do you think you are?? Who do you think you are trying to pursue this path?!” And we think, “Oh! This voice is helping me keep my ego in check!” We think this self-doubt is an ally! We don’t want to develop some God complex! We don’t want to figure ourselves for some all-powerful godhead! We don’t want to assume we are worthy of all of the love in the universe… this unconditional, compassionate, infinite love from the universe… why, because, we aren’t good enough! We are selfish, and we fall short in various aspects of life, we aren’t good enough at our jobs, we make bad parenting decisions, we lie, we are awkward, etc etc. “Why should we be worthy of this infinite stream of love? Oh no, not us! Maybe some other people are worthy of feeling that, but it is not for me.42-18350115
I better accomplish way more and be perfect in way more aspects of my life before I would even consider being worthy of that!” And somehow, we think that by thinking in this way, we are gaining some merit in the eyes of God, like if we don’t value ourselves than s(he) will find us more deserving, and at that point maybe bless us with entrance into the kingdom of heaven, or bless us with some answer to our prayers, or grant us access to some higher realm of consciousness… like we stack up moral points by degrading ourselves. But ironically it is that exact thing… that self-limiting in an effort to be more pious that separates us from God. It restricts our access to our God nature, which is in ourselves. Because to demean and belittle ourselves, is to act in direct opposition to that which must be realized. It is fighting against ourselves instead of flowing with ourselves. The way to experience God is not through some external contact: Like he is some external entity and he will anoint us with his love once we have reached a certain level of worthiness. No… God is always within us because we are God manifesting in human form.

The way to contact God is to come back into contact with ourselves. It is to love ourselves. It is to think all the same thoughts and do all the same actions we already do (but to not have judgments about them!). We may still have moments of road rage and mutter “fuck you asshole” under our breath… but when we become aware of this, rather than judge ourselves and think, “I am a bad person because I said that… I will never be worthy of experiencing God’s love” we simply observe, “I am experiencing stress, and anger, and fear, and heat, and tension in my body, and self-judgment” for example. It is not evaluative, just descriptive. So we can still be the same person we already are (in fact… that’s the point). But in order to experience God and God’s love, we must learn to not judge ourselves for who we are. This maintains even if and when we are imperfect (because we always are imperfect!). So if we have a presentation at work and we forget our words, or get negative feedback from our boss, rather than thinking, “I am a worthless piece of shit,” we can think, “I forgot my words… I am feeling humiliated and hot in the face, and shaky and like I want to cry, and like my throat is closing up.” Again, not evaluative, just descriptive… and in that method, there is no rejection of oneself. It is instead the opposite… coming into a more intimate contact with the self by letting oneself feel the raw painful experiences that we usually cut ourselves off from. This is the more direct way to honor oneself: to let one feel and experience these raw emotions. It validates the value of our emotions and feelings. It sends the message to our feelings that whatever their reality or truth is, they are important. They are real, they matter, and I care: “I want to see you. I will hold you, love you, be with you. I respect you. I believe you. There is space for you. You have an impact on me and my life and the world. You are real, I am listening, and you are worthy of my attention.” Most times, when we feel an unpleasant feeling or sensation coming on, we cast it off before it becomes too conscious, and convert it into a story that protects our ego and our self-image. For example, if our boss told us we did a bad job, we may construct a story that our boss is an insensitive, ignorant, tasteless asshole. This story deters us from feeling the raw vulnerable emotion of our own experience that is underneath, which is hurt. Or, we may create the story that we are stupid. This sends us the message that we are not good enough as we are, and we must be better (we must be something other than what we are) in order to be worthy of love. If, rather than reacting with such stories, we can pause and feel into the painful emotions underneath without judgment, we can start feeling human again. Just think about a time you cried… like really cried, in pain. There was something comforting about it, wasn’t there? Some sense of relief, of depressurizing, cleansing, and of gratitude for the realness of it. And when we lifted up our heads there was probably a sense of calm, and of clarity in our surroundings. This is because we made contact with ourselves. We thereby connect with ourselves, honor ourselves, let ourselves grieve and process, and send the message to our painful feelings, “I see you.” This is towards contact with God. By this definition, contact with God is not always puppies and rainbows. It is at times excruciating… but at least it is real. This contact with God (or, our true nature) is more painful in the beginning, as we process all of the shit we have not let ourselves feel for all the years we have been disconnected from ourselves, invalidating ourselves, devaluing ourselves, judging ourselves, etc. As the process progresses, I believe the pristine and unobstructed love shines through and is felt more easily and bountifully. It is like cleaning a dirty windowpane… From the other side of a filthy windowpane, all looks dark… but when you start to clean it, you realize that the light on the other side is preeminent and eternal, like the sun. The sun is always there. It is only how dirty our windowpane is that determines how much of the sun’s light and warmth we can experience.

We are already worthy. We are unconditionally worthy… and no matter what we do… even if we kill someone… God is still within us, and we can still contact that and we will always have access to that. The only thing blocking us from experiencing God within ourselves is our mental construct of ourselves. If we think we are unworthy, if we hate ourselves, put ourselves down, and reject our bodies, how will we ever experience God? If we start to accept and love that which we have been fighting so hard against, hating, telling that it is not good enough (ourselves, and our bodies)… then we will begin to feel that endless river of love that is always flowing through us. This doubt… this idea that we are not worthy, is our biggest adversary.

We are born into this world being told we are unworthy and undeserving… that we have to earn love. We develop the notion that if only I suffer enough… if I hate myself enough, if I put myself down enough and torture myself enough to the point where I don’t expect anything in return from anybody… then maybe I will finally win approval from my parents. Then maybe I will get love and validation from them. Many of the religions of the world endorse this concept. There is the Opus Dei religion as featured in the Da Vinci Code where practitioners beat themselves and mortify their own flesh out of devotion. There are less extreme forms of this same concept. There is the basic Catholic belief that we are all born with original sin, and we must redeem ourselves by way of repentance. turner-confession-flashThere is shaming, guilt, remorse, and offerings. There are the ideas of some higher force saving one from himself…as if one cannot save himself or take responsibility for himself. As if he or she cannot find God by his own means, but must wait submissively and powerlessly, all along chanting, “Please save me.” It is the most disempowering idea ever! In religions around the world there are ideas of hierarchy, the chosen one, God taking pity, and Judgment day! And if, after all of this devotion and self-sacrifice, we are still not saved by God, then we think we need to work even harder! We have to be even better!! We have to be even more perfect, reject ourselves even more and move ever yet farther away from who we are in this moment.

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This mentality is enough to develop an autoimmune disease. Think about it… Autoimmune diseases are when the body’s immune system starts attacking itself. This coincides perfectly with a mentality where people are fighting and working in direct opposition to themselves. They are beating themselves up… attacking themselves. If their “doing” selves were separate from their “being” selves, and their “being” selves were children… this would be complete and utter child abuse. I can say this for myself. If my adult “doing” self were to say the things to my inner child “being “ self what I say to myself each day, it would be horrible verbal and physical child abuse: child-abuse“You are not beautiful. You do not deserve to be happy. You do not deserve pleasure. You are not good enough. You can’t enjoy yourself because you have not worked hard enough. No one will like you if you are yourself. Everyone will think you are weird. You will make people feel uncomfortable if you speak your mind… put yourself away. You are not allowed to laugh. You are doing a terrible job. You are a failure, etc.” I picture my inner child huddled in a corner crying… taking this in and trying to accept it because it wants love from my adult self. I can feel it cutting itself off from the infinite love it otherwise was fused with like a molecule of water in an ocean. In an effort to please the older self and win its approval, it makes a choice. It’s parent, (or “doing” self) is the one that ensures its physical survival, so the young “being” self has to listen to it. So it sacrifices its connection to its larger home to be connected with this older, parent, “doing” self, and live by its rules and laws. And I can feel that the older “doing” self is saying all of this to the younger “being” self out of fear. It has forgotten that it itself is a molecule of love in a sea of love. It lives in a scarcity mindset. Its idea of love more closely resembles approval. Its idea of love is not of the same quality or flavor as this divine love which is intrinsic, preeminent, nonselective, universal, infinite, and unconditional. This later kind of love is of a whole other dimension entirely that the detached self cannot even fathom until it returns to the home of the soul.

And on top of the abuse we inflict on ourselves, we judge each other, judge each other, judge each other… we think, “If I can’t have access to self-love and beauty and freedom, why should they??” And we pull each other down and limit one another. As Moira on The L Word described: “with female lobsters, you don’t have to even put a lid on the pot… because once the lobsters realize they are going to die, they start pulling each other down so no one of them can escape. They’re like, if I’m gonna die, then you’re gonna die too.” We permit no room for acceptance and love of one another in the face of their mistakes or imperfections. We criticize each other so harshly. And we must be aware, that the degree to which we judge others, is reflective of the degree to which we judge ourselves. We apply the same impossible demand for perfection onto ourselves as we do ourselves. We think, why should they experience peace and guiltlessness and pleasure when they work less hard than I do? When they make more mistakes than I do? We think this because we know no other type of love than approval, and reward for good behavior, which comes from a cost-benefit ideology. It is a work model. Once we have experienced divine love however, we realize that there is nothing to be competitive about. Divine love is not limited, and there is no hierarchy in terms of who wins love first or in greater portion. Again, like a molecule of water in the ocean, there is no standing in line to be anointed with the holy water. You are already and by nature submerged in it. You are already surrounded and soaked by it, and logged with it, by being a molecule of water yourself.

sea-water-ocean-waves You are intrinsically deserving of all you desire. And your self- actualization of these dreams and desires already exists within you, if you can accept yourself for who you are, as you are, without all these ideas about what it takes to be a productive, meaningful, successful, contribution, or worthy member of society. Your highest self already exists inside you, including all of the steps necessary to manifest that form in the physical realm— it’s all taken care of, it’s already successful. Its future is already secured, so you don’t have to worry about that. The question is, can you quell your self-judgement so that it can transpire? Can you release all of these self-deprecating and self-limiting thoughts and accept and love yourself as you are so that your highest self can unfold naturally, as it wants to?

 

 

 

 

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