The bible says:
“Love your neighbor as yourself“.
But do you really love yourself? If you stand in front of a mirror, are you satisfied with what you see? Or are you unsatisfied with how you look? Do you doubt that you will ever get what you want, because you are not pretty or good enough?
Now close your eyes and try to feel and think about yourself. Who are you really? Do you feel comfortable with yourself, your body and your identity? (In the following blog I will write about identity: Who am I really?)
Many friends and even strangers I met told me that they were unsatisfied with themselves. I was too when I was younger. It takes a long time to learn about ourselves, to accept who we are and to love ourselves unconditionally.
As I wrote in one of my earlier blogs, the world we live in is very left brain dominated (see blog 6: Learning to Draw on the Right Side of the Brain). In our society we are used to hastily judging and roughly labeling everything, including people. As little kids we were already hurt by criticism and prejudice. Growing up we got used to this way of thinking and treating people.
This leads to many people disliking themselves and trying their best to be someone they think they should be, but not the person they really want to be. How can they be happy if they do not listen to their own heart and accept themselves? How can they love their neighbors if they do not not even really love themselves?
In some cultures people feel guilty about loving themselves. For instance in China “self sacrifice“ was emphasised in the ethic education when I was a child. People put “self love“ equal to “egoism or selfishness“. But according to my observations the people who truly love and accept themselves are definitely not selfish people. On the contrary, they are generally humble, kind and generous. The selfish, arrogant and vain people are often insecure. Most of them lacked love or respect in their childhood and haven’t learned to love themselves.
To accept and love ourselves is a process that can take the whole life. I learned from different books and through meditation. One of my favorite books is Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now“. (In a future blog I will write about his philosophy which is very helpful for psychological sufferings and for achieving true peace.)
A small but effective exercise I would like to share with you is to spend a few minutes every day feeling yourself. You can do this exercise at any time: When you are on the train or bus; when you are waiting for a friend, or when you have a short break in the office. You may but do not need to close your eyes. Then breathe deeply and feel yourself: Is your breath smooth? How do your body parts e.g. feet, legs, hands etc. feel? Do you have a lot of thoughts on your mind? Don’t judge your thoughts. Just notice them and observe how they affect your body. For instance if you are nervous your breath might be shorter and your heart beat faster. Have you ever thought that your organs like heart and liver work 24 hours a day none stop until your life ends? So thank your body and all its parts. You know that appreciation has a very high energy level (see my blog 9: Love Fengshui – Positive and Negative Energies among People). You will feel better and more loved after the exercise.
And believe me, when you start to care more about yourself, you will be closer to the true you every day. Your energy field will be different. You will be a happier and more powerful person. You will attract more positive things and people to your life. At the same time, you can give more positive energy and make others happier.
So my dear friends, before you love your neighbors, please love yourself first!