Three years ago I was reaching the darkest point of my burnout. My vital fire was all but extinguished, my health rapidly diminishing. I was emaciated, weak and scared.
At that time I picked up a book called “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It” by Kamal Ravikant.
The immediacy of the title reached out to me. It had been on my radar for a while, but it was only now that it really felt like my life could depend on it. Up til that point I had been curious but perhaps a bit resistant to the idea of loving yourself. It brought up an awkward feeling.
When I was growing up I learned that loving myself was the last thing I should be doing. It was thrown around as an insult, aimed at people who were cocky or egotistical.
Ironically the thing that was holding me back from learning to love myself was my ego.
But by that point in time three years ago, it had really started to feel like my life depended on it, so I dove in.
It may be a bit over dramatic to say it saved my life, but It changed my trajectory and set me on a new path that I believe was vital for me to regain my health.
The reason self love was a difficult idea for me to embrace at first was confusion over the role that ego plays in it all.
When we use the word self, its often referring to the constructed identity, otherwise know as ego. In essence, everything about the ego is made up, it’s a story we tell ourselves and the world about who we are and what we do. We tend to cling to our ego because we fear that without it we are nothing. We create ever more tangled (and sometimes contradictory) webs of story to prevent it from unraveling.
When I was younger I would use the phrase ‘he loves himself’ as an insult, aimed at someone who seemingly had a bloated ego.
True self love has nothing to do with egotism. In fact it is the polar opposite.
True self love requires letting go of all the stories about who I am, all of the judgements about what is good and bad about me.
It is about embracing the being I see in the mirror with total acceptance. Like a mother would view her newborn child.
It is about seeing through the tangled web of stories to glimpse the incredible, unfathomable wonder of what you truly are.
This insight is difficult to grasp at first because the ego is designed to prevent it. It threatens the egos existence and so you will find hundreds of reasons why it’s a bad idea to love yourself.
So if you’re ready to give it a shot, how the fuck do you love yourself?
There’s a bunch techniques and practices you can try, there’s no quick fix. The most important step though is a decision. You have to commit to learning to love yourself. You have to value it more highly than the stories you hold about yourself.
As Ravikant puts it “The truth is to love yourself with the same intensity you would use to pull yourself up if you were hanging off a cliff with your fingers. As if your life depended upon it.”
It begins with deciding to stop beating yourself up. Check it out for yourself – has all the disapproval you’ve heaped upon yourself ever really made things better for you or anyone else?
If you can stop beating yourself up for a moment you may begin to experience acceptance. You may not feel lovable just yet, but see what it’s like to stop judging yourself for a moment.
If you can let go of the disapproval and the judgement, even for just a second. You are making space for love.
If you still don’t feel worthy of your own love just imagine for a second, what it would feel like to be truly worthy of love, not for what you’ve done but for what you are?
I’ll let you in on a secret here – you are worthy of love in the same way as you are worthy of each breath you take. Love is inseparable from life and it’s here in every moment. Loving yourself not something you do, it’s what arises naturally when you stop judging and blaming yourself.
With just a few minutes practice a day, you will build a muscle which, as it gets stronger, can completely change the way you see yourself and the world.
Ultimately we can learn learn to love every aspect of ourselves, even the things that we can’t even bear to look at right now.
Remember that all the reasons you may have for not deserving love are just a part of your ego. They are stories and judgements but they have no real existence.
You are something much greater than that. Deep down I think you know that to be true.
What do you think about loving yourself? Does anything here resonate or is it just a load of hippy bullshit?
I’d love to hear your perspectives