Self-love is much easier said than done. It happens in incremental shifts, which gradually build to one of quantum proportions. It takes time and a solid commitment to personal growth. While the path is often difficult and lonely, it tends to be sprinkled with ‘mini-awakenings’, which let you know you’re headed in the right direction. At least, that’s been my experience.
My first ‘awakening’ took place on a spiritual retreat in Bali more than 20 years ago, when I was asked to pair up with someone I didn’t know, then look into their eyes and say to them: “I saw you coming from afar and I said to myself, you are truly beautiful”.
I had no problem saying this to a person I’d only just met. On the contrary, it felt wonderful to share an authentic moment of human connection. However, when it was their turn to say the words back to me, my body involuntarily contracted. I quickly diverted my gaze, my cheeks flushed, and I noticed I was holding my breath.
Hearing those words “you are truly beautiful” took my heart by surprise. Frankly, it was shocked! My ego liked what it was hearing, secretly loved it in fact, but my heart was far from ready to allow in such a bold outpouring of love that was unconditional.
Instead, my eyes welled up with tears, a lump formed in my throat, and I felt a painful hollow deep inside. The problem wasn’t that I had trouble accepting love from a virtual stranger, the problem was I had trouble accepting love from anyone.
Anytime anyone had told me they loved me, even my parents, it had always made me want to cry, as though something deep inside me felt that I didn’t deserve to be loved.
A year after the Bali retreat, I went on a spiritual tour to Kenya, where I received some life-changing advice:
“To attract true love, you need to love yourself completely as you are. The essential ingredient is your own self-love. Do this by discovering what it feels like to be rejected by you. Go inside your body and feel it. Go to the bottom, then make a choice: “Will I or will I not re-claim myself?”
It sparked a long journey of healing and breaking through self-imposed barriers of protection that I’d put up around my vulnerable heart. Those invisible walls strove to keep me safe, yet were preventing me from experiencing what it feels like to love and be loved.
The heart cannot receive what it doesn’t truly believe.
Sadly, too many of us are running a subconscious ‘default’ program that doesn’t believe we are worthy of love. It rationalises that since we are not ‘perfect’, we therefore don’t deserve to be loved…when it simply isn’t true.
Everyone is born worthy. The gift of life itself makes us equally entitled to take up space on the planet, bring forth our unique gifts, shine our light, and be loved for who we really are. We are ‘good enough’ regardless of what happened to us or what we did in our past, no matter what anyone or society itself tries to tell us.
Very often our Higher Self will lead us into difficult relationships or situations in order to show us the parts of ourselves that need healing, and the areas where we need to grow. The worst thing we can do is blame ourselves or beat ourselves up for choices we make that lead us to less than desirable circumstances.
Loving ourselves through the toughest times in our life helps us navigate them a little more gracefully. It’s what will ultimately help us move forward. Going within and fully accepting where we are now, and how we feel, helps us to access our inner guidance or intuition, and discover the answers we seek.
In spiritual terms, ‘time’ does not exist. It’s growth and evolution that are ‘measured’. Whether you are 20, 50 or 80 years old, it’s never too early or too late to make a commitment to heal your own heart.
Loving yourself, which includes having self-compassion, speaking kindly to yourself and forgiving yourself - even if it’s ‘just a little bit more’ today than yesterday - will help you get through the hardest of times. It’s the key to your freedom and your fulfilment in all areas of life.
So, please believe me when I say: “YOU are truly beautiful”.
Written by Kerrie Womersley