Love yourself like your life depends on it is the essential truth about life. A short book on love and how it will transform your life. If you practice three simple rules discussed in the book you're guaranteed to see a positive change. Here are my notes from the book.
Biggest lesson: loving yourself is an essential practice you can't ignore.
My rating: 8/10
As a wise friend likes to remind me, this is a practice. You don't go to the gym once and consider yourself done. Same here. Meditation is a practice. Working out is a practice. Loving yourself, perhaps the most important of all, is a practice.
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.
Here is what saved me. I'd reached my breaking point. I remember it well. I couldn't take it anymore. I was done. Done with all of this. This misery, this pain, this angst, this being me. I was sick of it, done. Done. Done. Done.
"This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply - in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF."
The mind already has a strong wiring for love. The body knows it as well. It knows that love nurtures, that love is gentle, that love is accepting. It knows that love heals.
As you love yourself, life loves you back. I don't think it has a choice either. I can't explain how it works, but I know it to be true.
Darkness is the absence of light. If you remember this, it will change your life. Changed mine. It is this concept that the practice is based on. Any negative thought is darkness.
Instead, imagine you're in a dark room and it's bright outside. Your job is to go to the window, pull out a rag, and start cleaning. Just clean. And soon enough, light enters naturally, taking the darkness away.
I once heard someone explain thoughts as this: we, as human beings, think that we're thinking. Not true. Most of the time, we're remembering. We're re-living memories. We're running familiar patterns and loops in our head. For happiness, for procrastination, for sadness. Fears, hopes, dreams, desires. We have loops for everything.
I sit with my back against a wall, put on my headphones, listen to the music, and imagine galaxies and stars and the Universe above, and I imagine all the light from space flowing into my head and down into my body, going wherever it needs to go.
- Step 1: Put on music. Something soothing, gentle, preferably instrumental. A piece you have positive associations with.
- Step 2: Sit with back against wall or window. Cross legs or stretch them out, whatever feels natural.
- Step 3: Close eyes. Smile slowly. Imagine a beam of light pouring into your head from above.
- Step 4: Breathe in, say to yourself in your mind, I love myself. Slowly. Be gentle with yourself.
- Step 5: Breathe out and along with it, anything that arises. Any thoughts, emotions, feelings, memories, fears, hopes, desires. Or nothing. Breathe it out. No judgment, no attachment to anything. Be kind to yourself.
- Step 6: Repeat 4 and 5 until the music ends.
- Step 7: When music ends, open your eyes slowly. Smile. Do it from the inside out. This is your time. This is purely yours.
If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this? The answer, always, was a no.
Rather than solving the emotion or trying not to feel it, I would just return to the one true thing in my head, "I love myself, I love myself, I love myself."
I’m in love
Here we are, thinking that one needs to be in love with another to shine, to feel free and shout from the rooftops, but the most important person, the most important relationship we'll ever have is waiting, is craving to be loved truly and deeply.
And here's the interesting part. When we love ourselves, we naturally shine, we are naturally beautiful. And that draws others to us. Before we know it, they're loving us and it's up to us to choose who to share our love with.
This one, I'm a little scared to share. People will think I've lost it. But it is powerful.
- Step 1: Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Step 2: Stand in front of a mirror, nose a few inches away. Relax. Breathe.
- Step 3: Look into your eyes. Helps if you focus on one. Your left eye. Don't panic, it's only you. Relax. Breathe slowly, naturally, until you develop a rhythm.
- Step 4: Looking into your left eye, say, "I love myself." Whether you believe it that moment or not isn't important.
- Step 5: Repeat "I love myself" gently, pausing occasionally to watch your eyes.
If anyone ever looked in your eyes, knowing that you loved them, this is what they saw. Give yourself the same gift.
Fighting fear doesn't work. It just drags us in closer. One has to focus on what is real. On the truth. When in darkness, don't fight it. You can't win. Just find the nearest switch, turn on the light.
James Altucher, in one of his best blog posts, talks about how he stops negative thoughts in their tracks with a simple mind trick. "Not useful," he tells himself. It's a switch, a breaker of sorts, shifts the pattern of the fear.
Fear, when used properly, is a useful tool. It serves us well when near a blazing inferno or standing at the edge of a cliff. But outside of this, it's hijacked the mind. To the point where it's difficult to distinguish the mind and our thoughts from fear itself.
So I ask myself the question, "if I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?" I love this question. There is no threat, no right or wrong answer, only an invitation to my truth in this present moment.
This I know: the mind, left to itself, repeats the same stories, the same loops. Mostly ones that don't serve us. So what's practical, what's transformative, is to consciously choose a thought. Then practice it again and again. With emotion, with feeling, with acceptance.
Thousands of years ago, a Roman poet wrote, “I am a human being, therefore nothing human is foreign to me.” I believe it to be true. So if this is possible for one human, it is possible for anyone. The path might be different, but the destination same.
I once asked a monk how he found peace. "I say 'yes,'" he'd said. "To all that happens, I say 'yes.'"
Often, the price for not being present is pain.
What we believe, that's what we seek, it's the filter we view our lives through.
As I started to love myself, things inside me shifted. Fear strengthens the ego. Love softens it. I became more open, vulnerable. It was natural to be gentle with others, even when they weren't loving towards me.
That's how you know when you've hit it. When it feels right. No one can teach you this, you just have to do it. And the more you do, the more you develop a trust in this feeling, the more you listen to it, the more you live it. And this transforms your life.