I always thought of self-love (loving oneself) as something negative. A narcissistic, unattractive way of being to which others would response “who does she think she is”. I believed that loving oneself was far removed from traits such as genuineness, compassion and selflessness. This was the world I grew up in where modesty was good and boastfulness was not. I did not know self -love. I knew self-criticism. I knew self-doubt. I thought I knew self-awareness but I was only aware of my perceived flaws and conscious of how I appeared to others.
Wisdom has shown me how mistaken I was in my thinking about self-love. If we are all connected, then love for others and love for self are one and the same. For many years prior to this understanding I would hear the notion ‘how can you love anyone else if you don’t love yourself’. I misunderstood this, I knew I didn’t love myself, I hated many things about myself but I did love my children and so I dismissed the statement as an untruth. Now what I see is that by loving others, I must have love for myself as we are all part of the same tapestry, it isn’t possible to love just one or two threads. We are made of love, of pure loving consciousness, self-love is not something we have to learn or earn. It is what we are. It’s not about bragging or boasting or wanting to be the best. It is about acceptance and gratitude for what is.
A similar misunderstanding lead to my utter detestation of my own name. I hated it. And, I believed it defined me, to the extent that I held myself back because of my name. As a child, ‘Susan’ just sounded so dull and old-fashioned and ‘Sue’ was like someones Auntie. Why couldn’t I have a pretty name like other girls? Something with an ‘ie’ on the end like Katie or Natalie, or something glamorous like Maria or just something popular at the time like Claire? If I had one of those names it would make my life so much better, I would be better equipped to put myself forward and be confident and shine they way I felt others shine. Even as an adult, I winced at the sound of someone saying my name. I worked in Andalusia for a while and the girls I worked with would call me ‘Susanna’ I liked that it made me feel grown up and exotic. Through most of my teaching career I was just called ‘Miss’ even by the staff which I saved me from my name.
I have since come to understand the insignificance of a name, as a nonsense label. Our society would have us believe that our name is our identity. In truth, our identity is ‘a human being’ an amazing being, living in the miracle of life with the gift of free thought in which to create our own experience from one moment to the next. A gift which we use against ourselves, clinging onto and rummaging around in the content of our thinking until it seems so real that we actually believe that our name can define our possibilities.
Another belief I held for many years was that I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I shouldn’t push my luck. I shouldn’t count my chickens before they’d hatched. This kind of thinking was again integral to the culture in which I grew up. Northern town mentality, wise words and old wives tales. Tempting fate. Sod’s Law. If you start thinking you’re on the up it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. And then where will you be? Unprepared!! Best to prepare for the worse!
This kind of thinking is responsible (in my case anyway) for years of life-limiting anxiety. Always imagining the worse, that way, when it does happen it won’t be such a shock and I will be emotionally prepared.
What I didn’t realise then was that by ‘being prepared’ I was thinking about all the bad things that might happen and by thinking about them I was living it; the fear, the grief, the disappointment, the guilt. What a way to go through life!
Now I say “Count those chickens!” Live in the moment. Live in the positive warm emotions of the present, feeling wonderful and grateful for the gift of life you’ve been given and all of the creation surrounding it. Have faith that should the worst happen, in the future, you will have the resilience to deal with it, because that is how you’re designed!
“Love yourself as thought you life depends on it – because it does” ~ Anita Moorjani