On loving ourselves (and others)…

Photo by William Moreland

The notion of loving yourself has been a mainstream one these last several years in the self-help world.

I think the sentiment is accurate — at its core, our culture carries a heavy load of self-hatred around (though, maybe you’ve escaped it — if this is you, you’re free to close this post and go on with your day).

Until we love ourselves, as they say, it’s impossible to extend pure, authentic love to another. Instead, what results is the projection of our self-hatred. This may result in conditional ‘love’, but it’s one that’s rooted in manipulation and insecurity.

So, just love ourselves, right? 
And therein lies the problem…

We’re human and humans judge. It’s what the human brain does. We assess the human object in front of us and deem if it’s worthy of love. If they submit to our demands, commands, and expectations, then sweet — they’re in. We can ‘love’ them. But if not, we withhold our favor.

The thing is, it’s impossible for anyone (including ourselves) to meet our illusory, insane, ever-shifting expectations if they emerge from our individual ego. It’s a constantly moving target — a carrot that we chase (and force others to chase) that lies just out of reach.

This is why we need (drumroll, please) the love of God.

(Hear me out now…)

Humans aren’t designed to be sources of love. We’re conduits of love — receivers and extenders of it.

In order to love ourselves, we must realize and experience love from something else. If we place the onus on our fellow humans to be this source, we’ll be disappointed every time, sooner or later.

I never thought I’d say it in permanent ink on the internet, but here it is...

It’s impossible for humans to truly love ourselves without the awareness of a love that comes to us from outside of human form (a love from God).

When it comes to loving others, it’s impossible to give what we don’t receive. Even the innate type of love that seems to originate from us like love for our children comes from a love that emerges beyond ourselves (which is why we’d die for our kids).

We must know that God (or whatever you want to call God) loves us no matter what. We must live beyond the impossible expectations of human worthiness and expectation (even of our own) and know that no matter how worthless we think we are, we are still loved.

This is the radical grace of God as embodied in the universal Christ. We all have access to a love beyond ourselves, but more and more of us are ignoring it for the one who looks back at us in the mirror.

We’re setting it up for failure. It can’t perform the task we’re giving it. It doesn’t matter how much it listens to the latest meditation app, how many yoga classes it goes to, or how many rosaries it recites.

What I’m talking about here is a beyond-ourselves kind of love — a love that’s implanted in us at birth and merely needs to be recognized and accepted, unconditionally.

Our job isn’t to love ourselves, but instead to recognize the love from God that’s already there and extend it to others.

Take yourself off the hook for having to muster up the spiritual fortitude to love yourself. You are loved as a child of God just as you are and always have been. Love— at the God level — is granted in each and every infinitely minute moment.

Now, go forth and extend that love to others.