I’m in the make-your-life-better industry. And it is an industry. My business engine is fueled by my many “lists” of subscribers and online followers. My social media feeds are a steady stream of #Truthbombs and how-tos. And every once in awhile, I tell ya, I get so sick of hearing myself telling everyone else what to do.
So many books and blogs and supplements. So many opinions about how to up your mojo and sanctify your psyche. And I wonder if I’ve become jaded from seeing all the motivational fluff that infiltrates over Wi-Fi, while some of the truly masterful spiritual teachers of our time can’t get book publishing deals because they don’t have enough “likes” on Facebook. The self-help space has become another form of entertainment and, in too many cases, the loudest voices are the ones being listened to.
Deep growth happens when our self-care is a celebration of our goodness and value, and not a fixation on what needs to be fixed. It’s a life-affirming attentiveness that steers us inward for the answers. Eventually we stop looking for “signs from the Universe” that we are loved, and we start finding signs — everywhere — that we Love ourselves.
You start where you are and Love what you can.
Consider that Love, like Truth and Light, exists on a spectrum. On one end, we have hesitant, kind-of Love. On the other end of the scale is free-flowing, certain, pure Love. If you want to grow in Love for who you are, you Love what you can on any given day and let that guide you out of the darkness toward bigger, brighter Love. Some days, all you’ll be able to muster is Loving the color of your eyes or how organized you keep your desk. Brilliant. Pick something, anything, to keep your mind off loathing. Other days, you’ll know with electric certainty that you are a magnificent, connected creature. And that Love affair with your Truth will be your protection, your guide, and your reason for being.
You practice good manners with yourself.
We self-help overachievers can berate ourselves for our suffering. We say and do things to ourselves that we’d never do to other people. Would you treat anyone else like that? Would you talk to a child like that? Love is patient, Love is kind. Love says, “You poor thing. No wonder you feel this way. It’s been tough.” Just like your best friend would say after you poured your heart out to her. You don’t need a pep talk or a meditation to distract you. You just need some empathy for yourself.
You allow your Light to be reflected back to you.
When you can’t rally some compassion for yourself, then seek it out from your friends and heroes, in a healthy way. That’s the beauty of being in this together. We can reflect our lovability to each other. When we’re blind to our own Light, someone with open eyes can describe it to us: “But you’re amazing, and resourceful, and so kind, and totally hot…”
You hang out with people who Love you.
This isn’t elitist or self-help snobbery; it’s a minimum health requirement. You grow most vigorously in conditions of kindness, resonance, and good laughter. You don’t look at relationships like spiritual boot camp (even though they are). You keep your inner circle full of fellow Love Crusaders (and it only takes one other person to have an inner circle).
You prioritize pleasure.
After years of being hard on ourselves and staying stuck in karmic cycles, pleasure-making is courageous. Pleasure heals. Pleasure makes all of the (seemingly) unavoidable hardships of just. being. here. so much easier. Your pleasure empowers you and you know it.
You reward yourself for trying.
You don’t reward yourself only if you achieve what you set out to do. And you don’t set up consequences if you fail. You commend yourself for showing up because Loving is an unending process, not a finish line.
You go beyond “tolerating” your so-called shortcomings to actually accepting more parts of yourself.
You may think that tolerating your foibles is an achievement in self-compassion, but tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Tolerance keeps you on guard — you are, effectively, only managing degrees of irritation with yourself. Instead, you accept that, for now anyway, this is what you’ve got to work with: strengths and weaknesses. Doing this creates an intimacy with yourself that can never be interrupted.
You befriend your loneliness.
The ancient philosopher Plotinus said that on the journey to enlightenment, you go from being alone to Alone. The big Alone is what it feels like to experience yourself as the center of your Universe. It’s a big job. The upside is that this sense of isolation makes us more responsive and available to connect with the world. We care for our loneliness and we care for others, so we care more about what we’re creating in the world.
You have healthy boundaries.
You say Yes when you mean Yes, and No when you mean No. Because you Love yourself, that’s why.
You mean what you say.
Don Miguel Ruiz put it best: “You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-Love. How much you Love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.” You value your time, you value your word, you Love yourself enough to know that every commitment you make — from the time you say you’ll show up, to lifetime vows — is sacred, because you are a sacred being.
You take risks.
How can you be afraid once you’ve seen the Light of yourself? Expanded with Love, you rise up to meet your quantum self. You see what you’re really capable of, and you not only trust yourself more, but you trust that life will back you up when you dare to grow.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you think you’re right all of the time. When you’re so intimate with yourself, you can see exactly where and when you go wrong and hurt other people. You know that your identity won’t shatter when you admit to faults. You’ve got a foundation of self-compassion and awareness to stand on to say, I’m sorry. I know I can do better, and I will.
You hold out.
Holding out is not the same as passive waiting. It’s a kind of stamina that springs forth from self-respect. Self-Love gives you the power to say No, thank you , to walk away, to be at peace with where things are at — or to accept that you’re not at peace but that’s okay for now. Self-Love sets all your standards.
You Love yourself like it’s your job.
Loving yourself isn’t a luxury or a gift that confident people inherit at birth. Love is the journey and the destination. It’s how you discern what stays and what goes in your life. Love is the reason you adorn your body and invest in your ideas. Love is your life force, the deciding factor, and your greatest intelligence. Love yourself like your life depends on it — because it does.
You will Love more people, more deeply.
This is the best part. Self-Love expands into Loving others. It’s so perfect, and beautiful, and right. You’re not trying to attain your own sequestered happiness. You look into your heart and see that it is connected to everyone else’s. You feel that mystical and palpable kinship, and you want the same freedoms and fulfillment for others that you want for yourself. Loving and accepting yourself increases your sensitivity to other people’s emotional states. You feel other people’s pain and yearnings almost as keenly as your own. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Danielle LaPorte is the author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another , from which this piece is adapted, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.