I get lots of spiritual advice or New Age teachings that require me to love myself. And I used to do lots of strange things to bring that message in – from looking at the mirror and repeat the mantra I love you (to mean I love myself) to sitting in a nice meditative posture and repeatedly singing I love myself, I love myself. Sometimes even to the extent that when I am upset, if I remember, love the anger, again to mean I am loving myself. Over the period of these practices, I seem not to get any result from it except frustration and irreconcilable questioning on how could it possibly it be done. For those who are self loving and reading this, it may sound strange how I could not love myself.
Yet, the good news is that I cannot love myself except to experience lovingness. Do you notice the difference? If you don’t, let’s explore further both. When you say “I love myself”, do you notice it is just a thought or a meaning you give to yourself to what is really going on in your mind? If your experience at one moment is lovingness, notice that it is just an experience, and not something that you can do to make it happen. I am to mean that whether you say I love myself or not, that experience will stay so long as the conditions for it permit. That experience has no meaning of “I love you” (as if that experience could speak to you) but rather you are speaking to that experience and putting a meaning to it. If you think you are the one that is creating that experience or rather that experience is your choice – do try this experiment, briefly. Just keep saying I love myself repeatedly for a few times in the state of lovingness. Observe the change to that state after awhile. Does it get any deeper or does it wane? Or does it change from lovingness to happiness? If it changes, it already means it is not your choice though you may skew your meaning to that state of happiness that it is still love you give to yourself!
No matter how hard I try, it is impossible to “love myself”. But it is possible to experience lovingness, gratefulness, appreciation and many more other love qualities which seem to bring about the meanings closest to Love. All these qualities of experience are effects of a certain condition in your mind that makes it possible. You may not notice what those conditions are and may probably conclude it is a random experience “given” to you. Or you may even have the meaning that you are constantly “loving” – which is possible but only to a few – yet that “constant loving” is a state you experience rather than it is “I love myself” thing.
I love the title coined by Byron Katie in her book Loving What is. Where only if you have finally come to realise that the mind is just a program running its own system, you can simply embrace whatever that comes up in your space, irrelevant whether it is fear, anger, sadness, peace, happiness or joy – yet you make peace with it, instead of judging it as wrong or bad. At this moment you are “being entertained” with a balanced state of lovingness towards what is going on in your space. That is the closest Love where one can ever experience, but not “I love myself”.