Why Is Self-Love So Underrated?
Growing up with two older brothers who spent a lot of time bullying me, with pretty absent parents, made me into a tough (and confused) child. I was a tomboy for many years. I didn’t want to be seen as ‘girly’ as my brothers would not want to play with me. It didn’t make the abuse less frequent. I rejected my own feelings, my tastes, my behaviours, hungry for their love and acceptance. Nothing worked.
I learnt from them and my parents that: 1: I was fat, ugly and stupid (I was not) 2: I wasn’t worth spending any time around; 3: I needed to change my appearance/behaviour to ‘deserve’ love from anyone because of #1 & 2.
I see these beliefs and behaviours over and over in so many people around me (in my work and personal life). We (often women but not exclusively) tend to conform to get accepted. We might think that it may – with some luck – lead to love. We believe and trust other people’s opinions more than our own. In fact we believe and treasure others’ views and opinions of ourselves more than our own too.
To add to the brainwashing: society, the media and ‘influencers’ would have you believe that you should look, sound, smell, behave a certain way to be accepted, heard, liked…let alone loved.
An external view of the world
We all understand that these views and opinions reflect only external input into our brains, our subconscious minds. They represent the ‘world out there’, and do not often reflect our own true internal opinions and views. Easily said when you’ve had years of believing the opposite, right?
I can say that at 55 years of age, the path to self-acceptance and self-love hasn’t always been smooth. I have learnt the hard way on many occasions, and I am still on the road. I’m almost totally there, and I know that some practices have helped me more than others to keep my spirits up and my body healthy. Among many other tools, I have found one particular practice has made and continues to make a huge difference to how I feel towards myself and others: Metta meditation. Rooted in Bhuddist tradition, this to me, is a very powerful way to increase compassion and love towards yourself and others.
How Metta works
I sit with my eyes shut, I take a few deep belly breaths, then start repeating over and over: “May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be healthy, may I live with ease” Then after a few times, I repeat these using every person I want to focus us, from one more person to many. Repeat each sentence as many times as feels right. Sometimes, I find myself saying these phrases out loud through the day, when I’m driving, cooking, lying in bed going to sleep.
Try it for a while every day – from 5 minutes to whatever time you have. You might be surprised at how your brain will take it all in and change you – very deeply.
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