Relationships are one of the single most important aspects of our lives on this planet. For many of us, the joy we experience in life is directly proportional to our ability to share those experiences with others and much of the pain we experience unfolds in the context of our relationships. Whether it’s in our relationships with significant others, family, friends or colleagues, we invest a great deal of time and energy in the hope of coexisting peacefully with others, having our relationships function well and finding fulfillment in them.
Amidst all of this, we often forget that it is our relationship with ourselves that is the most important of all. We’ve all heard the saying that we can only love others to the extent that we love ourselves. Well, guess what? Not only is that true but what’s also true is that until we learn to love ourselves UNCONDITIONALLY, none of our relationships or any other external sources of fulfillment will ever do the trick.
So what does it mean to love ourselves unconditionally? It means to be gentle with ourselves, to be kind to ourselves and above all, to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, for our shortcomings and for our imperfections. Many of us may not even realize that we have a relationship with ourselves at all. If that’s the case, the best place to start is to examine your thoughts about yourself. What does the voice in your head say to you? What do you say about yourself in conversations with others? You may be surprised to find that you’re not very nice to yourself. Go ahead and ask yourself honestly: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how much do I love myself right now?“
Regardless of where you’re starting from, the goal is 10 out of 10, which is where you will be when you love yourself unconditionally. That means that no matter what you or your life looks like today, no matter what mistake you just made for the hundredth time, NO MATTER WHAT, you still get to be loved fully and completely. That’s what real love is. There’s no condition attached to it. It’s not that when you do X, then you deserve to be loved this much. You deserve to be loved 100% just as you are, we all do. The world would be a different place if we were all experts at loving one another unconditionally and the best relationship to begin practicing this is in our relationship with ourselves.
It may sound crazy but it’s good stuff, I promise, so give it a try. Maybe you’re at a 4 out of 10 today. Imagine how you would feel at a 10 out of 10? Close your eyes and imagine what 10 out of 10 feels like and looks like on you. If you really want to see it for yourself, do this in front of a mirror.
Remember, the most important part of this is that you don’t need a reason to love yourself 10 out of 10 and no reason under the sun should have any bearing on how much you get to be loved. The best part is that once you start truly loving yourself this way, you will find it easier to love others and you will be much more open to receiving their love as well. It all starts with you so go ahead and let the love flow unconditionally.
Written for The Daily Love (Aug. 26th, 2011)