The spiritual path
could be described as the path of learning how to love well. A quick look at the day’s headlines shows that humans certainly have a hard time loving each other. Acts of violence, greed, and corruption happen every day. Many decades ago, the Beatles created a hit song “All You Need Is Love,” and, as simple as that title sounds, it really is true. We humans need to learn to love each other. But how can we do that?
I contend that we will never be able to do that until we learn to love ourselves well. It is a bit like when the airline attendant says, “Be sure to secure your own oxygen mask
before attempting to help others with theirs.” If we can’t first love ourselves, we can’t even understand what love truly is in the spiritual sense. Real love means accepting and valuing someone as they are
, no matter how flawed they may seem to us. Accepting and valuing ourselves
is the first step in that direction.
Love Your Uniqueness
First, learn to love the unique being that you are
. Too many people worry that they don’t fit in or that they lack the personality or talents that others have. This is really unfortunate since in the process they often neglect the unique contribution they make to the world by being exactly who they are. People are a lot like flowers in a bouquet. Which bouquet do you think would be most beautiful—one made up only of one flower, or one that includes roses, carnations, irises, and all sorts of other flowers? I know I would rather have the one with many beautiful colors, and I love that the world offers me a beautiful bouquet of people, people who look, act, and think differently according to their own nature. So, please enjoy being the unique flower that you are. If you are tempted to compare yourself negatively to others, thinking, “I wish I were as beautiful, rich, and powerful as them,” please remind yourself of your own special place in the world.
Love Your Path
You appear as you are in the world for a reason. All your talents and gifts are exactly what you need to carry out your unique purpose
on this Earth. If you are unsure of what that role is, I recommend asking yourself, “Why was I born? Why am I the way I am? What am I equipped to do in this world to make a difference?” Pondering these questions will inevitably lead to the reason you were born and to what path you should take with your life.
Also, please realize that your path will include growth, and growth includes struggles and difficulties. So, when you make a mistake or feel like you don’t know which way to turn, don’t get down on yourself or feel like a failure. Actually, those moments are your opportunities for greatest growth, the time to learn and transcend your old states of being. So, love yourself
and love your path, no matter how imperfect it may seem right now.
Love Your Soul
The final and most important reason you should love yourself is your soul
. The writer Wayne Dyer once said, “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings emersed in a human experience.” I agree with this because our lives and everything we experience here are just the outer packaging of what’s really important—the growth of our souls
. If you ever feel tempted to dislike or even hate yourself, just ask yourself, “Who am I really?” You must realize that you are not your personality, your bank balance, or your job title. If you think there is anything at all about you that is unsatisfactory or unworthy, then you are only looking at your packaging, not your real self, your soul.
Self-Love Is Not Selfishness
Sometimes people have the wrong idea that love is about being self-sacrificing and submissive to others. Thus, they avoid self-love
, thinking it is too self-centered and egotistical. But, there is a big difference between self-love and selfishness. True self-love is actually the opposite of arrogance because it requires seeing oneself in the larger context of humanity and life on the planet as a whole. Those who understand self-love also love others better because they understand that what benefits the whole, benefits them. And, anything that hurts others, hurts them as well. In this way, self-love becomes the foundation of unconditional love. I guarantee that all those people who do terrible thing in the world do not have any genuine self-love, and we will all need self-love to change the world for a better future.