Recently, I posted a message on Facebook. It simply said, You are loved more than you know, accompanied by a photo of a pink rose on a black background.
Someone responded, “Not true.” Another person responded, “By who?” I resisted answering. Many others expressed appreciation for what the statement evoked in them.
Of course, a message like that on Facebook is ultimately unprovable. And my point wasn’t so much to prove a fact as to open up an awareness for whoever might read the statement. You are loved more than you know. Just thinking the thought can evoke a sweet feeling inside.
I just finished a series of three events in Voss, Norway, that introduced people to primal spirituality. A high point of the series was a day-long Healing Chant workshop. Toward the end of the time, a participant shared a question she has posted on her bathroom mirror: Where are you on the list of people that you love? Hmmm. Thought provoking!
These two sentences evoke the very essence of what self love is all about:
You are loved more than you know.
Where are you on the list of people that you love?
Just like any act of love, loving yourself takes two—someone to receive the love and someone to give it, understanding that those roles can switch in any love relationship. As a human being, we have both the capacity to be loved (sometimes more than we know) and to love.
But wait a minute! You are only one person. How could there be two of you who engage in a process of self love?
Self love only makes sense when you understand that it is taking place between dimensions of yourself. It takes place between higher ranges of who you are—sometimes named your higher self—and your human sense of self. How else could real, meaningful self love take place?
The implications of this are profound for the experience of self love. It suggests that to love yourself you must have an encounter with a dimension of who you are that is beyond the part of yourself that could use some loving. In fact, that encounter has to be so profound that your sense of who you are shifts to include the higher reality. You have to begin to see with the perspective of your higher self.
Love from part of your human capacity does not induce a full experience of self love—not a thought from your mind or a feeling from your heart. An apparently positive thought, alone, doesn’t induce self love any more than your toe could love your elbow and thereby induce self love. An affectionate feeling lacks substantiality without the backing of the higher love of the higher self.
I watch people who struggle with self love, trying to love themselves as the self who needs the loving. How impossible! It is very hard for a person who feels unloved to love anyone or anything. And if you try to love yourself as a person who thinks poorly of themselves and feels unloved, how much will you value that love that you attempt to give?
Before the outer dimension of who you are can receive self love, an awareness of the higher self that could do that loving has to be engaged. And for it to be engaged, we must have an encounter with that higher reality. We must somehow come face-to-face with it, and offer our love to it. Such love draws us up into that higher reality.
In 1923, the Austrian-born philosopher and theologian Martin Buber wrote his classic text, I and Thou. In it, he described a mode of encounter with the beingness that is both outside ourselves and connected to the reality of who we are. His description of the nature of such an encounter is profound and enlightening. He speaks about the difference between relating to the world around us, made of objects—what he calls an I-It way of relating—in contrast to a way of relating to others in a way that acknowledges their beingness as subjects. This latter mode of relationship he refers to as I and Thou. Buber says this about the I and Thou relationship:
No purpose intervenes between I and You, no greed and no anticipation; and longing itself is changed as it plunges from the dream into appearance.
Buber goes on to say that the I-Thou relationship always leads to an experience of the eternal You. He puts it this way:
Extended, the lines of relationship intersect in the eternal You.
I believe that the eternal You is the higher self—that transcendent dimension of all people. When we acknowledge the beingness of people, we are, in that openness, open to an encounter with that higher reality. We are loving it and, in that way, experiencing self love. We are loving our higher self. We are merging with it, too. And in that merging, we are positioning ourselves to love the outer dimension of who we are as a human being.
I remember when this experience came to focus in my own life. It was a particularly trying time. I was living in New York City and I felt stretched thin in my work life, family life, and in all the projects I had undertaken. At the time, I was being confronted by people who I had thought were my friends. In the middle of that experience, I had this thought: If you don’t love and support yourself, no matter what, who will? How else can you hope that others would share their love and support for you?
It was a life-changing, empowering thought. It had come after a time of coming to know the higher reality of who I am as I followed my spiritual path.
So are you ready to encounter a love for you that far exceeds what you have known thus far? Are you ready to love yourself like you are already loved by the Divine? The magic of it is that you can begin at either end of this continuum. You can practice self love by loving the higher reality of Being that is the truth of who you are. And you can practice self love by sharing the love of the Divine in loving you, the human being.
This is the magic of a human life. We cover this whole continuum. Where do you want to begin?