Learning to Love Yourself

Why focus on learning to love yourself? I have always loved what Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. said in his book titled Learning to Love Yourself:

“It is the key movement from which mental, emotional, and even physical health flows. It causes depressions to lift, relationships to improve, and even longstanding physical illnesses to disappear. It opens the door to prosperity and abundance. When we seek love outside without bathing ourselves in it from within, we will never be satisfied with what we get.”

But how do we love ourselves? We have to start right where we are and begin to love ourselves here and now. The kind of love that truly enriches people’s lives is both tender and tough at the same time. There is a warm, accepting, embracing kind of love that welcomes all, forgives all. Then there is the tougher kind of love, the kind that will generate discipline in your life.

Imagine your husband or wife has asked you to help him or her stop drinking. After two sober days he/she wakes you up at midnight, sweating and trembling. “Unlock the liquor cabinet; I’ve changed my mind. I want a drink.” “No,” you say. “But I need it. If you really love me you’ll open that cabinet.”

What do you do? Is it love that makes you give alcohol to an alcoholic? Or is it love that says no and means it absolutely? It is often more loving to be tough, to say no, to set limits. If we do not learn to set limits with ourselves and those around us, there will be no room for the more tender, embracing love in our life.

We must develop this tough, disciplined way of loving ourselves. We must accept ourselves unconditionally AND we must demand the very best of ourselves. Learning to love ourselves means developing a warm embrace and a firm hand. It is learning to treat ourselves with compassion while being firm in our demand that we be true to our highest ideals.

Hendricks says, “Learning to love oneself often involves finding something we do not like, something we wish to be rid of, and loving it the way it is. We love our self for wanting to be rid of it, and we love the thing itself. It is very simple, and it always works, but we are so programmed to feel bad about ourselves that we often wait until the last minute before we direct love toward ourselves. Don’t wait until a crises forces you to learn. Do it now. You have nothing to lose.”

Loving the self means to never, ever criticize ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Practice approving of yourself and see what happens!

Love and blessings,
Rev. Kathy

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