Why is it so hard for so many of us to genuinely love ourselves? I see this regularly with clients. When challenged with self-loving, they are surprised to learn that they aren't sure what it means or how to do it. And they get uncomfortable.
Why? Because for most of us, we grow up under a subtle (and for some, not so subtle) barrage of messages that tell us there's something wrong with us, and eventually we believe it. This is a problem because from a place of shame, self-judgement, or rejection, we can't be genuinely self-loving.
Many of us are also raised in a way that confuses self-love with selfishness. These are two very different things! Self-care, i.e., self-love, is not being selfish. It's being self-aware. If we don't shore up our own boat, we can't hold ourselves with sovereignty or show up for life with any real power. It's like when flying on an airplane, the directive is to put on your oxygen mask first, then you can help others from a place of strength.
So you may be starting to see why most of us aren't masters of genuine loving. We grow up taking on wounds that distort our sense of who we are, and what love and self-love are. In time, we forget the purity of both, and try to manage or control things to access pleasure and avoid pain.
This is the hand of our conditioned self (ego, pain body, subconscious psyche, ego mind, etc.) at work in our lives. Its mission is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to live a life filled with pleasure instead of pain. Yet when we guide our lives by the desires and drives of our conditioned self, we miss the boat. Here's why: it's not a great idea to guide our lives from our fear, and that's what we do when we guide our lives from our conditioned self which rules our mind.
So, what do we do then? How do we guide our lives if not from our head? I unpack that in PART 5…