I have concerns about how people receive and implement the self-love message. The incessant flow of guidance and advice has swung the pendulum awfully far in one direction—toward self. And generally not in connecting with a spiritual self, but healing a psychological self. The psyche’s core, even in a healthy state, is inherently a selfish one.
Though with good intentions, by focusing attention on the mind-body New Thought and pop-culture preachers are encouraging people to nourish their selfish core. The world just doesn’t need more people doing that. Count active wars and the children who have starved to death to understand why.
Pop culture has confused psychology with spirituality. Largely, the self-care suggestions in the spiritual marketplace are the goods of psychology not spirit. Buyer beware.
A healthy body and sound mind do not constitute spirituality. Mind and body are matter, the soul is spirit. Being differently constituted the mind-body and the heart-soul require distinct sustenance and support.
That said, there is an interesting intersection where self-love is needed for mind-body and heart-soul–but for different reasons.
Mind-Body Self Love
We need to love ourselves. No one else can be in the position to care for us as we must care for ourselves. Caring for ourselves does mean removing pathologies, developing healthy self-esteem, and protecting ourselves from abusive relationships and behaviors.
By loving ourselves shame, guilt, self-esteem issues, and our inability to get our needs met are addressed. These concerns will no longer sap us of vital energy for real life. We’ll feel some peace and happiness. From this grounded position we can move into spirituality.
Spirit is in the heart. And the heart has defined needs. Specifically it wants to love broadly.
Heart-Soul Self Love
Have you ever seen or experienced that one has to love oneself before we’re capable of fully receiving and extending authentic love to others? This is the spiritual reason that self love is required. From self-love we can move toward loving others unconditionally. We need this extended love. Not “need” as in “should,” but “need” as in an “existential necessity.”
Only loving ourselves is a lonely affair. It discounts our natural, expansive, unconditional love that can include multitudes. Love by nature is comprehensive and wide. Until we master unconditionally loving all entities and offer it selflessly, we will never feel full because our connection with our spiritual self and our eternal relationships will remain unexplored. Without mining the gifts of our heart, the internal abyss of feeling that we are alone will remain. Incompleteness will eat us internally and continue to grow the cavity within because by nature we are inter-connected, and inter-related with all souls and God.
Our loneliness is directly related to how much we’re able to give—and receive—unconditional love. It serves us well to seek to understand and practice unconditional love, the highest human and spiritual sentiment.
Self-Love is the First of Three Levels in Achieving Pure Unconditional Love
Level One: Love self unconditionally
Level Two: Love others unconditionally
Level Three: Love God unconditionally
At each level we gain mastery of emotions and ourselves. As we reach to successively higher states of pure love, it flows back toward others and ourselves with increased wholeness, richness, and self-fulfilling, self-giving characteristics. The circular flow of love throughout the levels nurtures itself and grows itself unlimitedly. There is no higher achievement or satisfaction for the soul.
The self-help industry has not been able to quench our thirst for peace, happiness and wholeness because it hasn’t gotten to the heart of the matter for the soul.
Whether you believe in God or not, practicing unconditional love for self and others will add value to your life and serve you well.
One good outcome of pop self-help is that by actively caring for ourselves, we’re learning what we need and want. By understanding our core needs we begin to understand—in foundational degrees–God and others. Through this insight we know what practical acts of love look like. Who doesn’t want to be appreciated with genuine, kind words (in front of others, best!); treated to a lovely meal; and unconditionally accepted (of course).