When we hear the phrase “love thy neighbor as thyself,” we tend to understand that we must treat other people with love and respect. However, we forget that it also implies the importance of loving ourselves. The Creator is in all people, and that includes us. To love ourselves is to love the Creator.
"To love ourselves is to love the Creator."
Loving ourselves can be one of the most challenging parts of our spiritual development. It is a lifelong struggle for most people. Self-love doesn’t mean that we stop working on ourselves or searching for our own negativity. If we believe that we are always right and have nothing to work on, we only feed our egos and prevent ourselves from growing. How can we grow if we think we are perfect? On the other hand, when we start to recognize the areas of ourselves that need work, we can get down on ourselves and beat ourselves up. Self-love is found in the understanding that even the things we think of as “flaws” are a beautiful part of our spiritual journey. To love ourselves is to appreciate the process our souls are going through and how it is leading us closer to the Creator.
"Self-love is found in the understanding that even the things we think of as 'flaws' are a beautiful part of our spiritual journey."
Here are 3 ways to help in the process of developing self-love:
1. Understand your soul has unlimited potential.
According to the kabbalists, our souls are made of the same exact material as the Creator. We are like a stone that falls from a mountain – made of the same elements, only separated by form.
Because the Light of the Creator is endless and unlimited, so too are our souls. We are capable of achieving things beyond our imagination. Yet, we choose to limit the potential of our souls when we give in to selfish thoughts and actions. The more sharing and giving we become, the more we reveal the power of our souls. The choice is ours in how we act, but the potential is innate within us! Nothing that we experience, do, or feel can ever diminish that potential.
2. Your negative desires, thoughts, and fears have a positive purpose.
When we start to work on ourselves in a spiritual way, we can start to feel bad about ourselves. We might feel like we will never be rid of our negativity or that we are just plain bad people. Whether it’s an addiction, anger, laziness, or anything else we struggle with, we can sometimes feel that there is something wrong with us.
The truth is that the Creator designed us to have these negative traits as powerful opportunities to overcome them. Think of the Creator as a personal trainer who has created a vigorous, challenging routine in order to get us into the best shape we could possibly be. All of the obstacles and hurdles we face in life are shaping us into better versions of ourselves. These challenges are not just external, but internal as well. The more we start to recognize our negativity as opportunity, the more we can embrace it and work through it while being kind to ourselves in the process.
3. Remember you are on a unique spiritual journey.
It’s natural that we compare ourselves to other people. We learn by watching, listening, and talking to other people. But when we measure our success in life to others, it can lead us to feeling like we’re not measuring up. We might not have as good of a job, as stable of a relationship, as big of a house – but the important thing to remember is that everyone has their own challenges, specifically designed by the Creator for what their soul needs in order to reach a higher spiritual level. Our challenges are not one-size-fits-all. Things that come very easily for us, might be a real struggle for someone else and vice versa. Recognize your own successes and growth, and stay focused on the things you need to work on.
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Loving ourselves is a powerful way to connect to the Creator and it informs the way we love those around us. We tend to be our own harshest critics and our own worst enemies, but if we can learn to accept and love ourselves, there is no reason we cannot do the same for other people.
Support yourself the way you hope other people will support you in your journey and the way you would support someone else in theirs. We have a lot of hard spiritual work to do in our lives, but we can choose to do it with love.