There is a statement that is often heard during personal development workshops. It’s been written in countless books. It is one of the mantras of what became known as ‘new age’ thinking. It’s the moment when someone says, “I need to learn to love my self”.
In their determination to generate more ‘self-love’ many have gone straight to ‘mirror mirror on the wall’ and started to repeat their new self-affirmation, “I love my self” at the image of their face. And then wondered why not much changes. Which is not surprising as the face that we see in the mirror is neither the ‘I’ nor the ‘self’. It is, according to the most spiritual practitioners, simply the physical mask that we inhabit and wear.
Loving your face and therefore your body, believing both to be what ‘I am’, only strengthens our attachment to and identification with our body. And that’s not love, it’s attachment. It’s likely to create and strengthen the combination of vanity and narcissism. That, in turn, only generates more anxiety, as both face and body are obviously in a permanent state of decay.
So ‘loving my self’ is not loving my body. But that’s not to say our body does not require care. It is, after all, our personal limousine, so we do need to look after it.
Then there are those who write a thousand times the self-instruction/affirmation, “I love my self”. Somewhat reminiscent of the ‘thousand lines’ of punishment at school. Even as they repeat their self-loving affirmation they too will eventually wonder why nothing much changes. It takes time to realize that it takes more than one ‘thought’, regardless of how often it is repeated, to change how we ‘feel’ within and about our self. They probably don’t notice that to concentrate hard, or repetitively, on any one thought, actually suppresses our feelings.
The repetition of one thought also becomes a little boring. So some start to expand the idea into, “I am learning to accept my self” or “I am becoming kind to my self” or “I am compassionate towards my self” or “I am learning to forgive my self”. But without ‘feeling’ the authentic power of love, these thoughts too will only have a brief and limited benefit, and therefore a somewhat brief and limited lifespan. You can’t ‘think’ your way to love
The ‘I love myself’ philosophy and ideology is also underlined by the equally common belief that you cannot love others, or even just one other until you are able to love your self. It sounds logical and seems to make sense. Then, when some find they don’t want to love another or are unable to give love to others, they often then conclude that they are not yet loving enough of their self.
Then they blame themselves for not loving themselves enough. They diminish themselves even more as they see themselves failing to live up to others and their own expectations. So it’s off to another workshop or seminar to remind and re-affirm that they can still learn to ‘love my self’. This process can easily continue in a kind of repetitive cycle for some time, often years, until maybe one day we have our ‘light bulb moment’ and the penny drops on the realization that it’s not possible to ‘love my self’. It’s a mission that is impossible to complete. It is a task, an aim, and a goal that is doomed to predictable and inevitable failure. But why?
Which One Am I?
Love is a name for the pure awareness and radiant light of the conscious being that we are. But only when we are free of all attachment, which means free of all attempts to possess, hold on, own, acquire or desire anything or anyone. Why, because each of these habits generates fear. If you watch and get to know your own feelings you will see this clearly for your self.
Fear is love distorted by attachment. It’s the same energy (of consciousness, which IS the self) but a different vibration, a different frequency, hence a very different ‘feeling’. When you ‘feel love’ you are free of all urges to grasp, possess, acquire, desire, so the energy of your consciousness, which is you, radiates freely outwards into the world.
Love is what I/you/we are whenever we give of our self, with the intention to benefit another while wanting nothing in return. In such moments love is what the ‘I’ that says ‘I am’ is. It is your self. It is YOU.
To say, ‘“I love my self ”, only sustains an illusion that there is an ‘I’ and a ‘self ’.
However, for many of us, after a lifetime of ‘habitually wanting’, this is such a rare personal ‘insperience’ that we try to induce such feelings by watching ‘others’ apparently being loving. We then live vicariously through their relationships and interactions as they appear to have found love or are being love. This is why Hollywood has the world mesmerized by stories and dramas constructed out of ‘romantic love’. We generally don’t realize that it’s not love we’re watching but attachment. Hence the emotions of sadness, frustration and anxiety that make-up all the fictional ‘dramas’ that we allow our self to be sucked into.
One or Two ME’s
To say, “I love my self ”, only sustains an illusion that there is an ‘I’ and a ‘self ’, when, in truth, there is only the ‘I’ that says ‘I am’. The ‘I’ is the ‘self’ and the self is love itself. Just as the eye cannot see itself and the finger cannot touch itself, so you cannot love your self. Love cannot love love. Neither the self nor love is an object. Love just ‘is’ because you just ‘are’. But only when you are non-attached.
This level of ‘self-realization’ completely alters your understanding of what love is and where it is. It ceases to be something that you believe can be sought, found and known only through a special relationship, as depicted by Hollywood in particular and marketing in general, into something that can never be ‘acquired’. It may be received, but you no longer need to acquire it when you realize it is what you are. This realization also dissolves that other common misbelief, that love is something that is ‘required’, and therefore sourced outside your self. Only when such illusions are ‘seen through’ can it be realized that love is what ‘I am’. Therefore I am a source of love in the world.
The Search is Over
Realizing love is what you are, frees you from the ‘great search’ for love. Then the question arises, “If love is what I am why don’t I feel loving and know my self as love”? By ‘living in’ this question you will start to see and realize what’s in the way of you being your self, of you being love itself. You will likely realize that ultimately love is never lost, just as ‘you’ can never be lost from your self. You simply sabotage the quality of the vibration of your consciousness, which is your self, by becoming attached to…anything or anyone.
Attachment is the primary symptom of the ‘search for love’. Attachment always generates fear in its many forms including anxiety and worry, which are always signs that you are looking in the wrong place for love.
From Me to You
Perhaps the simplest answer to the question ‘how do I know love is what I am’ is as follows:
Only when you give what you HAVE within you, do you know what you ARE. Only when you give what you ARE do you know what you HAVE. Which is why, when you give that gift ‘with love’, you are the first to know and feel that love… ‘on the way out’. When you say, “This is from me to you with love”, you might as well say, “This is from me to you with the energy of me”.
Only when you ‘give out’ what you are, do you know that what you ‘have within’ is the same as what you are. And when you give, with love, that’s when you realize your self as love. It’s just that in such moments you are not thinking ‘I am love’. But notice, the last thought that would ever enter your mind in such a moment is ‘I need to learn to love my self’. Why would you, how could you, when you know your self as love itself?
From that moment on, whenever you read or hear someone saying that line, “I need to learn to love my self”, you recognize it’s just code for, “I need to find love/get love/be loved because I have not yet realized I am love.”. Then you can ask them. “Which one are you? Are you the ‘I’ or the ‘self’? Or are you the ‘me’, the one who says, “Me, my self and I?”
Now, who needs to love who… in here?”
Extracted and adapted from the book: The 7 Myths About LOVE…Actually! – Unravelling the Mysteries of Love. Mike George is an author of 16 books focused around self-awareness and spiritual intelligence. If you would like to subscribe to his regularly irregular e-articles go to www.mikegeorgebooks.com – it’s free.