Self-compassion and self-love revisited…

Coming back from Pakistan where I attended my brother’s wedding, has been a moment of clarity. As I reflect on the experiences I had from reconnecting with family members to managing wedding preparation stress; I feel I have more insights to share on the topic of self-love.

Being able to love yourself first requires being able to accept yourself as you are. So we’ve been told. However, let me ask you this, just who are you? This question is important to address since we often get so lost in the stories we tell ourselves everyday, that we lose sight of who we actually are. We often have false assumptions and ideals, of who we think we are and who we are not. We may say things like: “I am a good person”, “labour party supporter”, “movie fanatic”, and so on… We will keep listing our attributes, however we see fit. However, we never stop and trace where these ideas came from. Often, we may logically trace every idea we had to a personal event, friend, relative, book, movie, or anything external from the past. Despite the fact that these ideas may be rooted in personal evidence, if you detach yourself from them you will recognise that they are merely thoughts in your head. As I say time and time again, we think around twenty thousand thoughts a day. We therefore can choose which thoughts we want to identify with and which thoughts are just background noise.

I personally believe that who you actually are transcends your thoughts and beliefs. Modern science will explain the very fact that when you zoom into any object or living thing you will see the atoms; zoom in further and you are left with just energy. Every atom will have its own distinct energy and when you accumulate all of those trillions of atoms which make a human being; the result is a being of limitless energy. Acknowledging this fact alone is empowering and lays the foundation for not only self love but also love of life! 

You won’t actually believe this until you experience this energy within you. In order to do that, it is imperitive to take the time to practice mindfulness to detach from your mind and just observe yourself. When you start to notice the vastness of your self and connect to this latent power within that is connected and similar to all living things that is when you will stop identifying with the stories in your head. You will then be able to discern between what our “conditioned mind” tells us who we are, and what our “free-mind” tells us who we are.

In my earlier blog I wrote about the danger of falling into the trap of neurotic motivation and how we need to remember how to motivate ourselves naturally through self- love. My reason for this is because we can get so driven to satisfy a lost need that we end up letting the past defines us and therefore limit us. This is what I would call our conditioned mind. We cannot acknowledge the gift that is the present if we are too attached and identified with the mental replaying of our past. You have to be able to notice that the past no matter how much it may leave its traces, is only a concept that is kept alive through you feeding it with your attention. Once you are able to shift your attention back to the present, you can tackle new problems you face in life with your full focus.

We never ask ourselves what we would truly strive for if we had not had a past hurt or painful memory that dimmed our natural shine and energy. It is therefore, important that in the path of loving yourself you take ownership of yourself in the here and now! The truth is that we are all born with limitless potential. We are not the sum total of our opinions of ourselves. We are simply who we are right now. Where we lead onto from here, is truly living. This is because when we embrace the life as it is, we can then move onto finding out what our purpose is. We then use the earth as an opportunity to learn, create, share and love. In the process of life, we will find the aspects of it we prefer and the things we don’t, however we will be mindful that the things we don’t prefer are not wrong, they just do not fit in with what we desire. We will also be aware that what we desire changes, as we change. We are therefore, creating ourselves anew each day. This is how we love ourselves through, giving ourselves permission to be. Letting go of judging aspects of ourselves we do not like. Choosing to let go of limiting beliefs.

When we send love to the parts of our self we denied, this leaves room for us to be less judgemental to others who may have character flaws just like yourself. This then opens up more possibility for you to seek support from your friends and family as it breaks boundaries between you and them. This is important, as it will allow you to be able to express your deepest truths with others.

On the other side of the coin, we may often blame others for “making” us feel bad about ourselves. If in the past, when bullying has occured or neglect this may be understandable. It is important to remind yourself that although we may get judged on a daily basis, this simply means that those people are not aware enough to see the intrinsic value you have. 

Ultimately, it would be a complete waste of one’s energy to try and be liked by everyone. The game of people-pleasing and trying to prove your “worth”, ends when you start to prioritise peace and wellbeing over drama. 

Let me make one thing clear, value and worth are man-made constructs. We do not need to be loved by others and accepted by them in order for our lives to be sustained. Although, it is natural to want companionship in the form of friends, it is not natural to rely on this to sustain you. You sustain you. You won’t actually learn this truth until you go through a period of loneliness and isolation. In this moment, you start to exercise self-love the most, and you learn to bring yourself up and become a shining beacon for others. 

In my own experience, I would find that forcing myself to hang out with people for the sake of “fitting in” or because I was “missing out” never helped me. What empowered me was to learn how to sit with boredom at home, and learn to entertain myself and to truly follow my purest goals. Only once I temporarily paid attention and care to myself would I feel better and more confident to continue my career-life and social life. 

In terms of my social life, I had to undergo a period where I asked myself whether I was truly happy being around certain people. I knew that in order to sustain my sense of self-love I had to surround myself with people that were more supportive of my goals, aims and were not people that were conspiring against me. What I mean here is, you need to get rid of toxic people in your life, in order to get a real grasp of your own thoughts and opinions and deal with those on your own with non-judgemental awareness and self-love. 

When I look back at the ups and downs of last year. The times I felt in the pits of emotional pain was when I was battling with myself, my memories and my projections of all the people I hated or didn’t like. Once I could see that I was feeding this illusion, I saw it for what it was, just thoughts and images recurring in my brain. Old junk from my subconscious. I often felt tormented by those I did not like in my dreams who were people I had conflicts with in the past. I recall waking up in anger and rage. Eventually, I learned to allow the hate and not resist it. I told myself that it was understandable I feel this hate. I know that my subconscious will feed back to me the wounds of my heart; and in the heat of this moment, one must ask: what is the kindest thing I can do for myself now? And the answer came to me that, I should allow all this hate to pass through without judgement. In order to do this, I had to spend more time with myself. I had to practice more meditation. Every-time, I went through this negative cycle, I would congratulate myself for committing to self-care and giving my emotions the attention they deserve.  

This is why, recovering from emotional pain, takes longer than physical. They require your undivided attention without judgement! Furthermore, the wounds of the heart, do not respond to your logical- arguments, they respond better to the small acts of kindness you do for yourself.

I hope that what I share with you today, will inspire you to be more kind to yourself. I also wish that all of humanity can recognise the power that they have within. This power is not philosophical in nature it is tangible! Like I explained earlier using the energy of atoms as an example. So I invite you all to rediscover your own energy force lurking within you. 

Peace and love.

Azeem.

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