In this life, we have the opportunity to express love in two very important types of relationships. We have a relationship with ourselves and with others. In each of these relationships, your choices to express unconditional love matters significantly.
Often, it’s easiest to love ourselves, and simultaneously, we can be our own worst critic. Depending on your background and the beliefs you acquired as you grew up, you might really vary in this area, but I urge you to take a self-assessment to see how well you love yourself. First, stand in front of the mirror and look at your hair, skin, body, eyes and smile. Do you like what you see? Are you happy with your physical appearance? If not, start writing in a journal to see where those disapproving feelings come from. Get the feelings out, so that you can address them and change your beliefs on them.
Next, take time to write a list of all the character traits that you like about yourself. What are your skills and unique talents? Again, if this proves difficult, then ask a friend to help you to see your inherent brilliance. Sometimes other people can see the best in us better than we can.
Loving ourselves is not a practice in selfishness or narcissism. That is far from my point. The importance of loving yourself is that you feel whole and complete as you are now and being grateful for the blessings in life that you have been given. You focus more on your assets and positive qualities, rather than your challenges and unfulfilled desires.
Loving others can be very challenging, but has the potential for outrageously fulfilling rewards. Once you’ve improved on the art of loving yourself (a lifelong journey), your relationships with others have the chance to improve significantly. They will sense your authenticity, and become more at ease knowing you think, talk and act freely without judgment or insecurity clouding your interaction. Others will see that you love them unconditionally, without any strings attached, because you are at peace with yourself.
Loving others unconditionally means loving the person more than the love they give back to you. This is altruism: giving to give, rather than to get. This is how a husband can love his wife, despite her frustrated outburst. It’s the approach used when a wife loves her husband, despite the fact that he can’t think of the perfect romantic words she longs to hear. Unconditional love is when a parent understands that their bratty child is simply stressed. It’s not easy loving others, is it? But when we offer unconditional love to each other, we offer an amazing freedom to others to be authentically themselves - imperfections and all. It’s often through the tough moments that unconditional love can bond us to each other even more profoundly than we ever imagined.
My challenge to you: Just for today…love yourself unconditionally.