The Skill of Self-Love
 
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This is the fourth in a series of articles on developing an expression of value in yourself ie. Valued Self. Aspects of the Valued Self include Self-Awareness, Self-Worth, Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Confidence and Self-Respect.

In the development of the Valued Self, Self-Love stands at the centre and is the critical platform that must be developed for the higher aspects of the Valued Self to be strong and solid. Self-Love is also critical for the development of other emotional competencies such as intimacy and the sense of belonging in life.

Self-Love is the ability to love yourself without condition, to be full of compassion and forgiveness for yourself. It is built on the foundations of your own sense of worth and measures of esteem. In the past Self-Love was often seen as being conceited or as a weakness. Rarely was it seen as the strength that it is, nor was it understood to be a major cornerstone to the development of a healthy self. Self-Love is a conscious choice and is developed and nurtured throughout life.

What is Love
Most people describe love as a positive feeling you have towards something or someone. This feeling is an indication or measure of the care for someone or something. The behaviours and beliefs that go into creating love are the same whether for yourself, a partner or friend, or your house, your pet, or a hobby.
The ‘doing’ of Love has seven core behaviours that lead to the creation of those feeling states and it is the culmination of these behaviours, which leads to what we call love. Basically, love is a function; it is something you learn how to do. Being a loving person is a skill that is developed and can be enhanced over time. Love is the act of giving something in order to create specific states in another person or in yourself.

According to Lazaris there are seven Acts of Love:
• To care in order to create security.
• To give in order to create pleasure.
• To respond in order to create trust.
• To respect in order to create a vulnerability and intimacy.
• To be intimate in order to create a connection to reduce the sense of loss.
• To know in order to create honesty.
• To be committed in order to create caring and knowing.

The ‘being’ of love is to rejoice in the presence of that love, to re-affirm and value its presence, and to allow it to grow. It is experiencing the goodness, worth, beauty and truth in that relationship and allowing greater levels of happiness and joy that come from the relationship.

Look for new or expanding love by creating a new relationship with love. Expanding Self-Love in life expands all your love. In the state of Self-Love there is no room for self punishing, self sabotage or self manipulation, and no room for being a martyr or being caught in self pity or cynicism. You can leave behind your anxiety, worry and doubt, the frustrations and confusion. In Self-Love you can replace the limiting and constricting emotions with the expanding emotions of trust, passion, happiness, expectancy, and enthusiasm.

We learn about love from very early in life. Our first experience in life, our first love is the ‘mother love’ or the attachment we have with our mother immediately after birth. This stage is critical in our life development and often sets our foundational beliefs of love. Throughout our childhood our parents and family direct our experiences of love. The society we are born into also shapes our early beliefs.

One of the problems however, is that modern societies only express the half truths, the quick or simple answer. Statements that read like song titles “love is enough”, “just love”, “love will see you through”, “love heals” are only a half truth because they ignore the need to develop Self-Worth and Self-Esteem so that love has a solid base to create intimacy on which love can be established.

These ‘song titles’ ignore the need to establish the inner love, the Self-Love first so that it can be there for you in your outer world. Love can change you, but you have to open yourself to love, it can heal but you have to put the work into the healing of that love. Love is a skill and an art that can be developed but it will take courage and perseverance. Love is complex but it is not hard, it is ever changing and ever growing and unfolding if nurtured and allowed to flourish.

The Resistance to Love
When we resist love it is because we fear the loss of the focus of our love – the people or things we care for the most. Mostly we have been taught to protect ourselves from love’s hurt and pain. So when we encounter a crisis, the fear of losing the focus of our love sends us into angst and we strike out at that focus so that we can control the breaking of love. We want to control that focus so that we can make our love safe. When we feel powerless we fall back on patterns of control, manipulation, confusion, uncertainty, doubt, jealousy and envy as a consequence, we feel powerless because of the limiting beliefs we hold around love, so emotional struggle follows and the crisis deepens.

At other times we want to trust love but do not realise that we hold a distorted vision of love. Often the vision of love is that of the child or adolescent who believes they ‘never got enough love’ and continues to search for it in different places and people. Is love seen as something out of a gothic novel, full of hurt and pain? Some visions of love are about the drama and melodrama, of ‘what I’ve done for love’, or ‘if you loved me you would .....’ in which you hold unreal expectations of what can be. Sometimes we bow to the ‘inner critical parent’ and end up becoming a replica of our parents. Other times we may abandon the idea of love and settle for something less so that we won’t have to suffer loneliness.

Whatever beliefs and expectations we hold about love in the ‘outer world’ they will apply equally to the ‘inner world’ and the way we demonstrate our love for ourselves.

Embracing Self
To grow your love and to embrace your Self-Love you need to let go of old beliefs and patterns from the past. You need to know the judgements you make about yourself and about love. You need to develop your skills around Self-Love and to recognise the goodness, worth, beauty and truth that is in the love that you have for yourself right now. To dance the dance of love with yourself, on the foundation of Self-Worth and Self-Esteem is to build a strong and beautiful future for yourself.

Developing the Skills of Self-Love
Let’s examine how the act of love can become acts of Self-Love.
These questions ask you to look at all aspects of a specific issue. For instance ‘security of income’ may be important in the physical and an emotional areas, but there is also security regarding your health, your mind, your relationships etc,. It is helpful to create a separate table for each of the sections like the one below and be specific with what you actually do now and what you can do to increase those Acts of Love.

List what you actively and consciously do now and what you might want to do to;
• care for myself in order to create security in my life?
• create pleasure and enjoyment in my life?
• build trust in my ability to respond to situations I might find myself in?
• increase self-respect in ways that creates a sense of openness, intimacy and vulnerability?
• be close and tender with myself so that I am able to manage the sense of loss when changes occur and I need to let go?

 Self
 What do I do now  What else might I want to do
 Physical
   
 Emotional
   
 Mental
   
 Close & Intimate Relationships
   
 Social
   
 Community
   
 Spiritual
   

Here are some Reflective Questions to ask yourself.
Do I know myself well enough to catch myself when I am being dishonest with my thoughts and feelings?
What do I do when I catch myself?
Do I know the images and illusions I have of myself?
Am I committed to my own growth and to knowing who I really am?

Reference
Concept:Synergy, Lazaris Audio Download, ‘Intimacy that Works: Union, Co-Union, Communion’, www.lazaris.com

Contributed by: Anne Mattheson
www.propinquity.com.au


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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