The unconditional love for self means to treat ourselves with the same love that we exhibit for those who are dear to us.
Many years ago when my daughter was 3, I gave her a bowl of cereal at the counter, and she went toddling over to the table, proudly holding her bowl of fresh cereal and milk. When she got to the table, she stubbed her toe on a chair leg, and fell chest first onto the floor, spilling the bowl of cereal all over the kitchen. My daughter went into what I call “trauma cry”, where all breath is gone for about 5 seconds, and then she screamed a loud cry of trauma and misery. I am sure that in her mind, she had not only lost her delicious meal, but she had totally messed up the kitchen. I immediately rushed to her and picked her up, sat down, put her on my lap, and began to stroke her head, and tell her she was loved, and that everything would be OK. I put my hand on her back and patted her and comforted her and held her close.. In just a few minutes she quieted down and put her head on my chest and relaxed. I just kept telling her that everything was OK, and that I loved her so much.
Looking back on that event, I did not first run to clean up the mess, nor did I even consider yelling at our daughter and tell her she was clumsy and “always” falling down, NO, I moved first to comfort her and love her.
Too often we treat ourselves so poorly when we make a mistake. We may move to immediately try to fix or clean up our mess thinking that will make everything OK. We may call ourselves names and confirm we have made this mistake again and again in our lives. These things serve to prolong our suffering and extend our misery. The first thing we should do is love ourselves, comfort ourselves and tell ourselves that everything will be OK. Out of this self-love we can then decide if other action is needed. Then it will be love based, and not based on anger or fear or self deprecation. When we love ourselves first, our decisions will also be motivated by love. And besides, it feels REALLY good to be held and stroked and loved and told that everything will be OK. Is there a way we can do this for ourselves?
Next post: loving ourselves leads us to realize our authentic selves.