A Brief Theory About Life and Beyond
The Power of Self Love
When was the last time you whispered to yourself I love you? When was the last time you looked down at your body and said there’s no place like you? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said I AM ENOUGH?
In this chapter, I would like to remind you, to remind us, that WE ARE ENOUGH. And we can’t ever be everything to everyone, so let us focus on being everything to us. Starting today. Right now. Not in 20 years time. Not tomorrow. Cause even the tomorrow can, in just one moment, suddenly disappear and not be there anymore.
Our very first and very last love right before we close our eyes and leave this realm, will always be the love towards the self. We might never win a Nobel prize, live in a dream house or become millionaires or any other earthy achievement that society has implied that it is worthy of our energy and that is OK. If we grow into being comfortable with who we are and don't feel little, inadequate and for some special moments every day we are conscious of how much we love ourselves simply and effortlessly, this my friend, is already a state of bliss and inner wealth worth living for.
I wish I could tell you that self love is easy, that there is a recipe for being successful at it and for automatically erasing any pain. My dear reader, self love is not about erasing our past. It is about undoing the harm by abundant love to ourselves, in our path to healing. It is a daily practice it takes one form today and another, different one tomorrow. And unless you are there and present every single day, showing up and offering abundant love to yourself, no one else will. And no matter how many life guides are out there, the path to loving yourself is unique and personal to you. If we don’t foster self love, it can drift away and it can even turn into something scarier, it can transform into self hate. It can nurture insecurity, weakness, feelings of insufficiency, non linear flow of energy. It can cause anger and pain. Towards oneself and eventually towards others. Behind every hatred towards the other, there’s an even bigger hatred towards thyself. And in the same way, behind every demonstration of love towards the other, there is an infinite amount of love towards thyself.
Love can take many forms and it all derives from the same inner source within us. Ancient greeks had the word “Philautia” (φίλος + ἑαυτοῦ, meaning literally friend of the self), to describe the love for oneself. For Aristotle, self love was seen not as an egotistical manifestation but as an extension of our universal unity, our interconnectedness as human kind. Self love is at the core of love for everyone as “all friendly feelings for others are nothing but an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” (Aristotle, 368 BC)
Loving our self first and will indeed help us give away the surplus of love to our friends, to our family, to our lovers but also and most importantly so to the whole universe, to strangers, to nature. We are all one. And the aim eventually with this chapter is to try to slowly understand that with every step closer to self realisation and inner peace, we are trying to achieve a union, a harmony between the personal and the universal self. To let go, to let drift away any ego intentions, any self hatred, any notion of scarcity or competition, or jealousy, because if you succeed, we all succeed.
We are all part of the same magic fabric called Life, a piece of a universal common puzzle with billions of pieces, that once united they all tell the same story, a story of universal love.
Self Doubt and the Notion of I Am Not Enough
How many times did we go to sleep and promised that we would never ever complain again about not being enough or put ourselves down? How many times didn't we forced ourselves through a diet and lost track? How many times did we submit ourselves through a painful relationship day after day? How many times did we tell ourselves that we would quit our stressful work or bad habits once and for all? You see behind each of these life choices and decisions there is nothing but fear, in the horrendous words of I AM NOT ENOUGH sneaking in. The four words that filter and penetrate our life with every single doubt, with every frivolous purchase, with every extra piece of highly caloric bite, or with extra hug in the arms of our abusive lover, we let our mind repeat that we are not enough.
But we were not born this way my dear reader. We were not born with this painful I AM NOT ENOUGH. We were born perfect. Yes, that’s right. PERFECT. And full of self love. Coming into this world, we have infinite love for the surrounding universe because as babies we do not differentiate where does the self start or end and everything around us is an extension of our world. We are practically one with everything and everyone we encounter, from our mum’s touch, to our toys, to our cradle, to the sky up above our tiny heads. And yet, as we grow up, this magic reunion with the surrounding world starts to fade away. And as our self is being defined by external sources, our limits start to be more and more visible and we feel smaller, more confined. Our parents tell us not to do this or that and our self starts to feel more limited. Our teachers mark with red some of our beautiful drawings and self doubt kicks in, slowly replacing a part of our creativity. With every red marker or restriction, the child’s mind interprets it as “I AM NOT ENOUGH”. Even when we eventually enter adult life, straight out of college, we often end up getting a loan or a job or a lover right from the very start of our newly independent life, because we are frightened to follow bigger dreams and are led to believe that unfortunately WE ARE NOT ENOUGH.
As awakened, conscious adults, we need to train our mind. Reprogram it, to re shift our focus back to self love. To try to eliminate all the predefinitions of what is love, what is right, who and how we love, because all these notions are not ours, they belong to our adult parents, caregivers, teachers, entertainers and so forth. Adults who have had their own I AM NOT ENOUGH leitmotif burdening their life on the daily and thus burdening us on return. However, this should be by no means an accusation towards the adults that brought us up, because this is the way we humans function. And even the very choice of our parents is said to be done by our higher selves and so, as everything else in life, so instead of fighting or blaming our caregivers and our education we need to embrace them.
Our duty, today, right here, as adults, is to accept our past and understand that we can transform our life, starting right here, at the affirmations and phrases we tell ourselves day in and day out. Our mind is a beautiful tool. But it is not who we are. On our beautiful path to self love, we are called to enrich and beautify our emotional inner vocabulary with words of love.
To replace the heavy I AM NOT ENOUGH with I AM LOVE. I AM ABUNDANCE. I AM ENOUGH, I AM STRONG, I AM JOY, I ACCEPT LIFE AS IT COMES and any other affirmations that resonate in our personal case and moment. When trying to describe our emotions, let us expand our vocabulary beyond the words of simply: happy, sad, angry. Let us endorse beautiful words to describe a certain emotional state, such as today I feel curious, incredible, surprised, excited, motivated, empowered, pensive, joyful and so forth.
‘I am joy. I am abundant love. I am one with the universe. I am in peace. I am part of the universe. I am love. I am here. I love every part of my body. I love every part of my soul.’
A Personal Teenage Odyssey
My story and path to exploring self love started during my teenage years with the ‘I am not enough’ phrase on repeat. Not only was I not enough but according to a number of strangers and students, I was not manly enough. Being a homosexual boy in Greece was synonymous to being inadequate, awkwardly and shamefully different. Beyond homosexuality, there was a fear of the other, a fear of the unknown that can provoke anger and stress for some. Growing up, I received an array of insults. Traumas that I suppressed and swallowed. Insults questioning whether I looked like a boy or a girl, on the way I walked and dressed, on the lack of depth in my voice, on my acne, on my solely girl filled group of friends. As a teenager, unsure of his own sexuality and in the process of natural development, I had no one to talk to. Or at least that’s how it felt like. It felt like I was alone, so even if I was surrounded by love of friends and family, I felt completely abandoned. During this time of emotional distress I had failed to realise that we choose the way we experience every moment, because we project our own reality from within. I had failed to offer to myself the love that I was in need of.
In an effort to escape the pain, the insecurity, the unfortunate acne and the even more unfortunate lack of self love, I found myself secretly reading a self help book that transformed my teenage years for better. That book was none other than Transform Your Life By Louise L Hay, a strong believer in the use of daily affirmations. Reading and practicing those daily affirmations, learning how to visualise my bullies as happy and within a space that we could exist together without tension or frustration slowly helped me melt away that anger, that feeling of emotional paralysation that I was carrying around without a spoken word to my otherwise happy life. And that’s what I did at the very vulnerable age of 14 years. I spent day in and out practising positive affirmations. I LOVE MYSELF. I AM ENOUGH. I AM LOVE. I AM WORTH IT. And with time, dedication and lots of hope I did it. Once I let go of all my pain, I started loving myself more, embracing my body, my differences and I promised myself to help anyone that I found in my path not to have to ever deal with this pain. Throughout this process I came to the conclusion that it was not about deleting memories but going back to them, feeling those suppressed emotions, getting acquainted with that sad teenager and being compassionate, hugging and comprehending the past. This is the only way to truly heal.
What is Self Love
After years of soul searching I realised that self love means taking the time to listen to our breath and not acting too busy or finding myriads of excuses to stay alone with our thoughts, with the silence, with the hours. I LOVE MYSELF means waking up in the morning and when faced with ourselves in the mirror, to be able to smile back full heartedly at our vision. To look at our body, every little or special, or different part of our human body and being able to hug it. Fully. With abundant love. It means to provide our mind, body and soul with what makes us happy. To be there during the happiness and the sadness. Not suppressing or judging any darker part of who we are but accepting it. Being able to go back in our wounds, to our traumas and reach out with a helping hand and an open heart.
Self Love is Trust
Self love allows us to sink any doubt we have and to trust in the path that’s called life. I LOVE MYSELF means that I trust myself and my instincts when I make a decision. I don’t let any doubt in because simply I am at peace. And anything that happens in my life, whether good or bad, I don’t fight against it but I accept it as yet another beautiful learning, another beautiful gift in my path to awakening. I trust in me to be the world. I am only following and living in the now without tension, without frustration cause I know exactly that where I am now, in this simple yet ever powerful moment, I am enough. I don't need to prove to anyone my worth because my value is infinite. I accept and embrace everything that comes my way. I nurture it and help it blossom, together, along side me. And at the same time, I also know that this too shall pass. Whether an amazingly luxurious lifestyle, a dream vacation home, a terrible job, a beautiful sunny day. I accept everything as a gift but I don’t get attached to it. And same goes with my self. I accept and love it in full, day in and day out, but I don’t hold it so tight and put my guards on. My hug towards myself is not a closed hug, it is an open hug allowing everything and everyone to profit of it. I LOVE MYSELF indicates trusting in my instincts. Looking at the clouds and really being ok with the shapes I think I might be seeing. No matter how absurd I think I might sound, self love is trusting that things happen beyond coincidence and If I believe I am seeing synchronicities everywhere to not fight it, or be scared of it but actually welcoming it.
Self Love is Love for Others
Self love means taking care of our inner garden, before we are able to share the fruit, growing our arms strong enough to be able to physically and mentally push someone’s wheelchair, support someone in a handicapped position. If I love myself, I know that I am enough. I know that I am enough and that I am part of a bigger universal self, within this magical universe of interconnectivity. If I spread love and celebrate joy, If I am full of energy, so are you and so are we all, another wave of energy, another beautiful wave on an infinite ocean. Cause after all, we are all a cup of water from the same ocean, and even if our vessels, our cups are so different from one another, the content is identical, it is the same spirit we carry throughout our present or past lives.
Let us look at the following allegory. The conscious, beloved self as a player in a basketball team. And although I am not a fan of the sport, bare with me. If I know and love myself, I am going to be able to put my best self out there. To make my team stronger. To encourage and inspire by simply being me. Because a team, or a community is only as strong as their weakest link. And by raising our self up, we can help raise up the others around us. Remember, it’s a circle of life and love and energy. If I love myself enough, I don’t need to hold anything for myself. I enjoy it, I appreciate it and I pass it on to the next, because I trust in universal love. The minute we acquaint ourselves with that notion, that nothing belongs to us and at the same everything belongs to everyone, that’s when we are free to love ourselves and the others fully and freely.
Self Love is not the Ego
Often, the ego whispers to us that we are and can be even better than our neighbours, that we deserve more. The ego distracts us from the fact that there’s no competition in life as we all have a separate path to follow until we get reunited with one another. There’s nothing wrong in our effort to expand and reveal the full potential of the self, it’s the competitive intention at ego’s core that is rotten. However, ego is not the enemy as many tend to say. Ego can be used as a driving force for good. Using it not for trying to be somebody else, but doing something good, helping somebody else succeed as well, focusing on our personal effort and propelling our own inner potential. Not as a proof that we are better but as a need to discover and attain our higher self, our ultimate bloom.
Finding Your Version of Self Love
Self awareness: This is who I am
Self care: This is what makes me feel good
Self-esteem: this is who I am & I am ok with it
Self love: I am enough and I love me for me
Self realisation: I am. And I am one with the universe in the now
In order to best explain the above steps of thought process and being, I want you to grab my hand. Imagine you are on an island. Your very own private island. And like any other explorer, you spend time to discover this land. To take the time to spot the most magical locations from where you can observe the sunset, some secret waterfalls, the best beaches and the most extraordinary plants. On your way around, you also find some caves, maybe they are a bit daunting at the beginning so, although you know where they are located, you try to avoid them. During your exploration you may stumble upon some animals, some of them domesticated, some wild ones, some terrifying ones. You know where they live and you know how to take cover and rest for a few days, aware yet away from trouble. This phase equals to self awareness (This is who I am).
The following days and while on your island, you might decide to spend some time at the beach, maybe look at the clouds and try to make shapes with your imagination, maybe you decide to meditate just by starring at the trees or at night and under the midnight sky, you count shooting stars. Taking the time to do activities that please your inner consciousness, activities that feel effortless and natural to you. This my dear reader is the stage of self care (This is what makes me feel good).
After a few weeks or months on your now treasure island you start not being afraid to walk around in the dark. To spend time in the caves. You are at ease with all the types of animals, both the docile and the wild ones. Because you are not anymore in a fight or flight mode. You are finally accepting and loving every living creature and every aspect of your cherished land. You are smiling when you recognise that a lot of this land is now fertile thanks to you and some plants are in full bloom. You have a confidence, an inner pride and this is self esteem (this is who I am & I am ok with it).
Finally, a few years in, you have come to not only be proud of the fruit and the blooms but also and more importantly so you are accepting, supporting and loving every piece of that island. The caves, the stormy nights, the sunny days, all animals and all the plethora of life. This is all you. You feel fulfilled and have an inner joy. You feel abundance in the now. This is self love. (I am enough and I love me for me)
It can take years to truly be fully in love with our notion of self, really understanding what are the traumas, wounds and caves we have within us but also our assets, our trees and flowers, the lights that make us sparkle from within, the features that make us different, the seemingly terrifying monstrous animals that we are scared to face, our role in the bigger scale of nature, our core life values and inner compass. And even then, we are never fully able to appreciate the vast depth of who we are. Some aspects will stay hidden forever, some will evolve or might change from one day to another and that is fine. It’s seeking and providing nurturing moments and activities to ourselves every single day, during those magical, special moments that shows we care.
Techniques to Self Love
Below are some of all these little acts of kindness to yourself, some little ways of saying I love you, today. Some techniques will resonate more than others, but they all have as a goal to get you, to get us, one step closer to self love.
- Positive affirmations: as we explored above, these can be personal, internally spoken to, they can be written on a piece of paper, in the mirror we look into each morning. We can find and define the ones that resonate the most, given a specific period and for a specific cause.
- Understanding what makes us happy: writing down a list of the moments when you are most happy. What do you enjoy doing or practicing? Are you allowing yourself enough time every single day to practice your favourite hobbies?
- Travelling solo: I am a strong believer that silence is our biggest ally to self love. Travelling solo forces us to not only spend time alone, but to explore how we feel and do what we love without regrets or compromise.
- Surrounding ourselves with guardians of love: take the time to evaluate the people that surround us, as a lot of the time they act as little mirrors, reflecting our inner beliefs and thoughts. Do your friends make you feel good about yourself, do they support you as much and how you need them to do so? Take the time to write down a list of 5 people that surround you and that you believe are happy and completely contempt with their self and share appreciation.
- Therapy: sometimes, exploring that inner self island and especially shedding light to those caves can be more beneficial and comforting with a good companion, or a professional therapist who is able to help you feel and face some of your darker fears.
- Tapping into self love using Emotional Freedom Techniques EFT: Lately I have been trying a new technique of emotional healing with the guidance of my therapist. It’s based on acupuncture, putting pressure on the right spots along the body, while orally repeating some affirmations and statements specific to a given trauma. While sharing the words out loud, you can feel the energy and pain shifting and relocating around the body until the pain eventually dissolves and gets replaced by a feeling of calm.
- Accepting that self love is in an evolution over time: There are ups and downs with sudden turns and even u turns and that is perfectly normal. We need to be the conscious driver and ensure a smooth journey home. After all, we never depreciate in value even on our so called low days.
And Remember: Self Love is the Beginning of a Life Full of Light
Once we have reached the summit of self love, an almost meditative state, the self will disappear. It will momentarily move to the background and the light will come through. If you are in nature, you can feel the energy coming from the soil, you can hear and be the sounds of birds, you feel the wind and the sun surrounding you. Only this time, you are so light and transparent that you, a beautiful tree, does not nudge or move or shake under any strong wind blow, because you have become one with the wind. You let energy through you, not withholding any energy whether it is good or bad, you just let it pass through you like the light hitting a prism. You have become a vessel that transmits more light and even multiplies the positive energy once it passes through you. This is the ultimate state of inner peace and acceptance. And although it is hard to be and feel that at all times, even if we experience this feeling for one earthy minute every day, we have nothing but a fulfilled heart ready to spill and be shared with everything and everyone on this beautiful world.
This is true self love. Loving myself so much that I let go of it all. I don’t sense any tension on my forehead, trying to think and calculate. I don’t sense any frustration when I am breathing in because my breath is a flow of universal energy. I don’t feel any physical tension in my body because I don’t put any pressure. Every activity I do and every thought I have is one of abundant love. And when I am having a hard day at work or at the end of a very long day, I now know how to care for myself, I know how to take a sad energy and replenish it. I know how to heal myself and by extent how to heal the other. And remember, self love is only the beginning, it’s only me spreading my hand to you, before you grab my hand and we start making magic together again. And healing everyone else on this planet together. Starting today. Let’s do it!