Self love is exactly the same thing turned inward.
Self love is a murky topic though that most never understand. We think it's about indulgence, or warm baths at the end of the night, learning to say no, and maybe even following our hearts, but in truth, you can do all those things, but if you haven't learned who you are, and to accept your own truth, then you are not in self love and anything that you build is at risk of falling apart beneath your feet.
It took me decades, and ultimately my twin flame experience, to see and internalize not only what self love is, but why it's so imperative to the world. Why it is the tool of true change and peace. It is not a selfish act at all, but one of great strength and courage.
"As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others." - Marianne Williamson
To truly love oneself is the bridge to all love. If we haven't learned this then all our other relationships and interactions with people suffer. We are in fear. We are in vulnerability. We are malleable. We get pushed into conformity. We hide our gifts, our beauty. Too many will spend their entire lives looking "out there" for this thing called love, this sense of acceptance, but in truth, the only one who can ever give that to you, is you.
Self love is not motivated from self interest. It is exactly what I said above, a total acceptance of who you are, how you think, love, and act. What you're here to bring to the planet. An acceptance of your passions, your sexuality, your faith. An understanding of your needs, desires, and wants, and an ability to give those things to yourself. Self love is knowing who you are, and giving yourself permission to be exactly that.
When you can do that, you can then give love without fear. Those walls we always seek to put up between us and others, are no longer necessary. But when we only see love in terms of it being returned, we internalize what the object of our affections does and take things personally, for good and for bad. This is where "conditions" are born. I'll love you if... This is where love dies.
For me, it wasn't until I loved Tony that I knew unconditional love, not from him, but in my own being. Along that journey I reached a part where I saw him, I knew him, and I accepted him, his struggles, his choices. But at the same time, I grew to love me, and when there came a breach in our relationship where I could stand by him, or love me... I chose me. I still loved him, accepted him for exactly what he was, understood him, but his actions forced me to choose between us. In choosing to love myself in that moment, I changed my life.
Love has to be unconditional for it to survive, whether that's with yourself, or in any relationship. Relationships breakdown because we don't love and accept ourselves. When we ask someone else to validate our worth, it sets the entire thing up on shaky ground because it leaves us unbearably vulnerable. That vulnerability causes us to start looking for escape routes, start building walls, all the things that kill the very thing we said we wanted in the first place, true love.
Unconditional love is not a euphemism for treat me badly and I'll still be here for you. It's not, because I see you and accept you, I'll accept every choice you make. True self love knows its needs and provides them and sometimes, that need is to be separate from someone else that you love, whether that's a parent, child, romantic partner, or friend. You cannot be in love, for yourself or another, and be enabling suffering at the same time.
True love says I see your beauty through your scars, but I will not accept your behavior because it is hurting you (or another)... now turn that around and do it for yourself because love is born and dies within ourselves first. Are you acting in love towards yourself, or are you enabling your suffering? Most of us will never grasp this truth. This type of love can be the hardest thing to master because we are our own harshest critics. We know ever flaw and mistake intimately and can be cruel and unforgiving judges of ourselves. We deem ourselves undeserving and block the blessings god is so desperately wanting to pour out on us. So often it's okay for others to make a mistake, but if we screw up... the ax must fall.
The path to acceptance is in knowing who you really are and that requires a great deal of introspection which can be painful and is often discouraged by those around us. You have to learn that you don't need the acceptance of any other being on this planet, only your own. With that, you can change anything. You can build a truly beautiful and satisfying life with relationships of worth and great love. You only need be true to yourself. Find the courage within and stand in your truth. It's the greatest gift you'll ever give, or receive.
The key to real love with others, is loving yourself without condition first. That is the spring from where all love flows. That is the endless well that can change the world.
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Namaste and much love to you all today and always.