By Steve Clayton
Picking up where last month’s article, A Change of Heart, left off, the first and most important change a person can make is to love him or herself. This may sound trite, tired or tedious, but I cannot stress the importance of learning to love one’s self. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with judgments; how we look, where we live, what type of job we have, what kind of car we drive. The list of judgments is endless and, in the vast majority of cases, we are left feeling that we don’t quite measure up, that we are somehow lacking. More often than not we are made to feel that the reason we do not measure up is due to something wrong within ourselves. What we have to remember or remind ourselves is that these expectations and judgments are made by other people. We do not have to subscribe to them; we definitely do not have to make them. Judgment is both a creation of our own ego and the collective egos of the society in which we live. Judgment leads to dissatisfaction within us and with others, followed closely by dismay, disharmony and depression. There was a good reason the phrase judge not lest ye be judged became part of religious doctrine.
It would follow then that the first step in coming to love ourselves is to learn to stop judging ourselves. How does one do this? I’m glad you asked. The first thing I suggest is to get in contact with your soul as your soul is much easier on you than your ego. Often I hear “I’m not so sure I have a soul; I’m not religious” to which I reply, “Neither is your soul; it is more about spirituality.” To help you get past that mindset, remind yourself that God is Love, not doctrine or dogma. God loves you unconditionally. If God can do that for you, surely you can do that for yourself as well. As those who have read my articles before know I always sign off with the word ‘namaste’. Of its various meanings the one which resonates with me the clearest is “I recognize the Divine in you as I recognize it in myself”. We all, each and every one of us, are children of Love, of God, of the Divine, of the Universal Essence, or of any other name we may wish to call the Source of all Life. Names categorize but they do not define. What defines us is what we do. Are we good or bad? Do we treat others with respect or insolence? Are we a positive or negative person? How we answer these types questions tell us who we are. Oddly enough, this applies to all of us whether we are religious, agnostic, or atheistic; our actions define us.
Our first action then should be to love ourselves and to forgive ourselves for not being perfect. There is love in each of us. It may be hidden, beaten down, and discouraged but it is there; and, if you look closely enough inside yourself, you will find it. When you do, nurture it first by treating yourself with love and respect and then by treating others with the same. Love will not grow if it is not shared, nor will it grow if it is kept under wraps by the ego for its own ends. Love must be in the light to grow. Find love within, nurture it by focusing on your positive attributes and then share with others. I am not asking for you to change who you are; I am merely suggesting you change how you look at yourself. Try to see yourself in a good light. There is Love enough for you in this world if only you dare believe with all your heart.