(reprinted from the encyclopedia psychedelica vol. 15)
You are beautiful. You are perfect. The concept is simple, yet integrating it into our daily lives can sometimes seem impossible. Although we may feel that to deny the fundamental beauty of human beings is to rob creation of intelligence, consciously or unconsciously we continue to criticize ourselves and our bodies. With this criticism come frustration: we can understand the importance of self love in a minute, yet it seems to take a lifetime to put into practice. We wouldn't criticize a leaf because it wasn't perfect enough, or reject a baby because it wasn't good enough. So why do we still give ourselves such a hard time, even when we feel that it will lead to some sort of improvement. Parents and teachers tend to believe that it is their duty to show children how to integrate into society. Consequently we grow up suppressing our desires and needs in order to be "acceptable." Even rebellion can create behavior patterns that inhibit the path to self love when inhibition is no longer appropriate. It is hard to remain focused on the fact that society is the imperfect machine, not us. Our society has evolved into a regimented set of consumer stereotypes that do not encourage us to express or explore the fundamental nature of our being. Media and advertising bombard us with superficial idealism that has little bearing on reality. Religious traditions that told people they were essentially sinful creatures, redeemable only by self denial, still influence our subconscious minds, associating self love with vanity. Victorian values may appear to be part of the long distant past, but they still permeate our culture and subsequently our minds. Freud aspired only to turn despair into ordinary, everyday unhappiness, yet with a spiritual dimension in our lives we know much more than this is achievable. Even though we are aware of the fallacies of these influences, while they remain in mass consciousness they influence our thoughts and feelings. We cannot expect ourselves to be rid in a moment of all the thought patterns instinctively adopted in childhood. As Ken Keyes shows in his Handbook to Higher Consciousness, moving from our security sensation and power addiction into a "love consciousness" is a committed and constant struggle. Many people avoid exploring self love, either because they have put so many blocks on their own emotions that they are not aware of not loving themselves, or because they fear taking the lid off what appears to be a can of worms: all the hurt, fear, anger and prejudice caused by negative experiences in the past. It often takes a deep emotional experience, either negative or positive to push people into the path of self love. Quite suddenly none of our old thought and behavior patterns seem to make sense. This is when "we finally give up the struggle to find fulfillment "out there," we have nowhere to go but within. It is at this moment that the light begins to dawn"(Shaki Gawain). Once this happens the seeds of self love are truly sown, and we fully realize that peace and happiness are states of mind not dependent on outside circumstances." The joy of the discovery often dissipates slightly once we recognize the enormousness of the task ahead of us. Our negative thoughts go deep into our subconsciousness minds. As Louise L. Hay points out, "the more we dwell upon our negative beliefs about ourselves the more permanent they become in our lives." So how do we eliminate them? Positive affirmation may sound silly at first, but fucking hell man, it really works. Writing down positive statements about ourselves helps to bring the root of a negative belief to the surface. Once it's in the open, we can let go of it forever. This process can be painful, but it is very powerful. Louise L. Hay cured herself of cancer using the self love techniques in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, cementing her philosophy that "what we believe about ourselves generally becomes true." Some people consider this sort of personal self-discovery selfish, but it has implications that go way beyond the individual. Our own lack of love is reflected in the world's lack of love. War, conflict, environmental damage and violence are largely born of the lower consciousness drives for security, sensations and power, which entail feelings of insecurity, boredom and a desire to manipulate. If we could evolve a stage further as individuals, continue our spiritual and mental growth, overcome the hang-ups and fears created in the past, forgive the hurt, understand that we are in command of our minds and that happiness comes from within, we will be well on the way to lessening the suffering of the earth. The first step to world change really is one the individual can take. As Louise L. Hay points out, "the world tends to act as our mirror." If we want a loving life we must think loving thoughts. If we want a loving world we must first love ourselves. The more we love ourselves, the more others will love us; the more we love others, the more others will love themselves. Far from being selfish, self love is the first manageable step to spreading more love across the world. Self love is an unlimited source of power and strength. It is the foundation of courage and confidence to do what we want to do, to be what we want to be, because we are not relying on others or seeking their approval. As we know, "goodness" in the eyes of our society is not necessarily truth. To find truth we must follow our hearths and trust our own judgment. This is impossible to achieve fully unless we love and respect ourselves all the time. However, by struggling to love ourselves more, we develop empathy: we become more able to give to others struggling with life, because we have developed our understanding of their problems by admitting and trying to deal with our own. Be gentle with yourself. Discovering self love is like becoming a child again. It is falling in love with life. Slowly, gradually, almost timidly poking our heads round the corner and saying "WOW," wide-eyed and smiling hugely. Bit by bit our efforts are rewarded. We find our minds expanding, beginning to flow internally: a trickle to a stream, to a river, to an ocean without limitations. The sparkle of our minds begins to fascinate us; the openness, the boundless possibilities. We can discover an infinite capacity for love and sharing, joy and bliss, passion and fun. We can discover the strength we all have to overcome anything latent inside us. The past, present and future are one, all, everything and nothing. We can grow to love our capacity for transcending the material world and for understanding what it is to BE. We may still get in spots and sometimes we may have a shitty day, but I guess no one said that evolution was easy.
:-) LOVE YOURSELF :-)