Can you offer compassion and love to others if you don’t feel them toward yourself? Maya Angelou stated “I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying ‘Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.'” Presumably you can’t give what you don’t have, not money, time, nor love. In the case of love, how do you even recognize something you haven’t experienced? Yet you offer what you can when you can. Love doesn’t exist as either present or not present, it exists as an infinite continuum you can access more readily as you evolve. Sometimes you offer a shirt and sometimes you receive one while you explore how to love all beings, including yourself, more.
Every person mirrors how you feel about yourself. The universe brings you people whom you can easily love and others who challenge you to feel any warmth whatsoever. Loving, or at least accepting, those difficult people requires you to make peace with yourself. Yet sometimes even acceptance requires too much of a stretch. Making peace with your every foible, from the obvious to the deeply denied, seems like a long, agonizing trek to self-love. Focusing on what you do love brings more of it toward you which helps soften the thornier side of life.
A chance to love someone feels good, which in turn fosters a sense of meaning, value, and connection. A young abused child given a puppy to love may light up in a way never possible before exposure to the unconditional love and acceptance of an animal. The resulting transformation shows love resilience, how the desire to love and develop self-love accompanies human-ness, lying dormant waiting for expression. You might not “know” love until you have a chance to give it and receive it. Opportunities to invite more love and self-love surround you.
Self-love grows through giving and receiving love. How do you nurture yours?