“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
The month of February is a great time to talk about LOVE.
And on this post, I’d like to focus on a special kind of love that many of us don’t talk about often enough – I’m talking about self-love.
Nitin Nambeo once said “You become the best version of yourself when you know the value of self-love.” I certainly agree and further, I believe that self-love and self-compassion are practically the same.
This concept is not a new-age gimmick or fad.
In fact, the findings of the latest research on psychology illustrate its importance for our mental and physical health.
Even across the different religious scriptures, we can easily find important passages about love.
You don’t have to be a devout Christian to be familiar with the bible’s excerpt “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31 and Matthew 22:39). And that, essentially, you cannot love your ‘neighbor’ (our fellow human beings), if you don’t love yourself.
We can even find the exact phrase in the (Jewish) Torah: “Love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). While in the (Islamic) Qur’an, we are enlightened that loving ourselves is to love our creator. In this holy book, we learn that we are Allah’s amaanah, and that taking care of our soul also means taking care of the body where the soul resides.
Read More: It’s Time to Love Yourself
We human beings are not alone in our existence; we are part of the environment, part of the Universe. We are connected to everything in energetic and spiritual ways.
When we realize this, it’s almost impossible not to be amazed, not to admire, and not fall in love with our own existence.
Loving and being self-compassionate with yourself means seeing ourselves as part of humanity; feeling oneness with the Earth. These feelings can originate only from within, then we can expand outwards. Once we do so, we inevitably affect the world around us.
As a Reiki Master, I’m aware that everyone who practices this Japanese form of energy healing or anyone who is familiar with Reiki knows the fifth and last Reiki precept that states “Just for today. Be kind to yourself and every living thing.” This precept reflects the need for self-compassion and kindness.
Practically every research done relating to this topic shows that self-compassion improves our resilience when facing adversity. It enables us to better cope with disappointment and helps with faster recovery from trauma.
When we practice self-love and compassion consistently, it will affect three aspects of our life; The physical (how we see ourselves), mental (how we think about ourselves), and psychological (how we treat ourselves).
So how about you? Do you practice self-love and compassion?
Do you smile when you look in the mirror in the morning?
Do you set aside some time for yourself to simply relax and enjoy life?
Do you talk kindly to yourself? Do you easily forgive yourself?
It’s no surprise that improving our relationship with ourselves takes time. The first step is to start listening to yourself. Listen to how we address ourselves.
Read More: 5 Easy Yet Powerful Ways to Practice Self-Love & Be Kinder to Yourself
Then, you can start talking to yourself as if you’re talking to someone you love. Remember that our body, mind, and soul always react to our self-talk. Hence, our thoughts could be encouraging or self-sabotaging/damaging to ourselves.
Kristin Neff, Ph.D., the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, describes self-compassion as having three key elements. They are:
- Humanity: We recognize that mistakes and negative experiences are part of everyone’s life. Our imperfections connect us to others and help us understand them.
- Mindfulness: We openly and curiously approach negative thoughts and feelings instead of suppressing or ignoring them. We see them, recognize them, name/label them, and let them go.
- Self-kindness: We are gentle with ourselves, avoiding self-blame, and self-criticism. We nurture ourselves with understanding, support, forgiveness, and patience.
Last but not least, self-love and compassion bring true & lasting happiness.
How often we tell ourselves to delay happiness by saying things like “I will be happy when…”. Some examples that may arise can be “When I finish college…When I get a good job…When I am in a relationship…When I get promoted…”and so forth.
Unfortunately, many of us see happiness as something external that must happen to us to make us happy. Nevertheless, these factors (things/people outside of ourselves) will never truly determine our happiness.
The truth is, we have everything we need to be happy now. Being able to cultivate and maintain self-love and compassion will bring it to the surface.
When we learn to do this, they bring a revelation on our uniqueness and worthiness, as well as restore peace and harmony in our body, mind, and soul.
Be happy. And know that you deserve it…
This post was contributed by Roman Vaynshtok. The Founder of the Peace and Balance Reiki Center, he works with individuals who are looking for healing & relief from physical suffering and/or emotional trauma.