Love! A word used in religions all over the world, in films and books, in small talk and philosophical conversations. But what is love? What do we mean when we say “I love you”? Is it the same with phrases like “I love this song!” that come out of your mouth?
Love is everything! It’s true – love is all around us. It’s not only a combination of feelings, such as excitement, joy, anticipation; love is what we need to live. Just as oxygen and other elements are to the body, so love is to the heart. Love is the main ingredient for the soul. What is more: for healthy soul and mind.
When we love ourselves, we become more aware of our own bodies and minds, we get insights that help us find answers to questions and ease our pains. Break-ups, family crises, work or school excitements are no longer a problem because love overcomes obstacles.
We should know that love doesn’t know boundaries, love doesn’t care about gender, age or colour, love doesn’t want strings attached – no political regimes or inequality accepted. Love makes you confident that you’re worth it and that all the small things we don’t like in our bodies or behaviour don’t matter. We are the ones that matter and that can change the world. Love makes us proactive and brave. We can easily start our own projects or get involved in a social or an environmental cause.
There are many examples of people that have changed the world with their love. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela… And many others! But the spectacular thing is that everyone is important; and if they love themselves more, they can make a significant difference in the universe (which actually they are already making).
Love is also respect. When we love ourselves, we respect, appreciate and admire what we have – our own selves. We are more mature and in a way logical: love gives us wings that lift us into the sky, and from there we can see the world as it is. We realise that I is not different than Them, and this respect is transferred into our everyday communication.
That’s why self-love stops people feeling insulted – because by realising their own importance and the fact that some spiteful people haven’t reached the point they love themselves yet, people who know how to love their souls, and bodies respond with respect to any unpleasant thing or an insult.
Someone who truly loves themselves becomes joyful, peaceful, optimistic, smiley – and you can see it in their eyes. Maybe you can feel it in your stomach: the butterflies are dancing because you’re in love.
So blessed and blissful that he or she might feel that this love is too much (it will explode!) and that it will be egoistical to keep it, so they might feel they should share it. And when someone loves themselves they share it with their close friends and loved ones. And because love’s transformed them into insightful, brave, respectful, positive individuals, they share this healthy mindset with the people around them. Starting from their communication, through their attitude, to their behaviour, everything seems better. No more swearing at parents; only constructive relationships. Like a Mexican wave to celebrate humanity.
But that’s not enough: they love not only themselves or their loved ones, they love everyone and everything. Because by loving ourselves, we send out love to the universe!
However, let’s see what the opposite condition of self-love is. Not surprisingly, it’s self-hate, and the first seeds planted in someone’s heart that could lead to that feeling is doubt: doubt you are worth it, worth loving, worth knowing, worth having fun, worth exploring. From there you might project that illogical hatred and see it reflected in other people’s eyes. The cycle can continue because you might respond to that pseudo-existing hatred with bitterness and jealousy – and this way the harmony in relationships will be marked by ugliness.
How do we practice self-love? We can’t fall in love with ourselves out of the blue. We should make compromises and make an effort, just like in any other relationship with another person. We should be patient and let ourselves get to know our own mind. Yoga, painting, music, hiking – anything that we like might help us explore our roots.
Because (again!) when we love ourselves, we spread this love all over the universe.
As Buddha says, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.