Learning to love yourself
This is an alien advice not learned in our Western education.
I am not saying to become narcissist and super self-centered.
The word “love” in Zen Buddhist literature means all together tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, self-compassion and kindness of what you are or, better said, how you are perceiving yourself.
We are at the opposite of what our Western education is teaching us :
“ Always be super critical to yourself in order to be perfect and be the best”.
This is why the majority of Westerners have a poor self-image, blaming themselves for all kind of things, creating emotional and behavioral dysfunctions such as anxiety, depression and being difficult with others.
This practice of tolerance and self-compassion does not mean either to be complaisant with self since there are always opportunities to for improvement in all components that define us such as:
Personality, physical, mental, emotional
and societal skills,
Our perceived our self-image goes from the good, the bad and the ugly even if we don’t notice it immediately because our self-image is deeply hidden in our subconscious.
Mindfulness skills will give us the capacity to bring it up and to embrace all our attributes and behavior with acute awareness in order to bring self-compassion.
In other words learning to be friendly with yourself as you are with your best friends.
What to do? 4 things to consider:
1) Start the day by wishing yourself well and good luck as “ Good morning Anna or John; Have a great day”. like you do to others all the time.
Do it mentally if you are in front of others, otherwise they will look at you as a coo coo.
If, at the beginning, it feels strange to send blessings to yourself, thing of those who love you dearly and imagine that they are sending their best wishes to you.
2) Pay attention how you talk to yourself. When you notice that you are judging, blaming or reprimand yourself, take few deep in and out breathing and realize that you are, by blaming yourself, enforcing your negative self-image.
3) Once a while during the day talk to yourself as you would to a good friend such as encouragement.
You may say: “It’s OK, I am what I am, accept it” when negative traits are popping out.
4) Set the intention to treat yourself with acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and kindness especially when you go wrong or feel bad. Punishing, blaming for flaws/failures/mistakes and over criticizing yourself will never help you in finding corrections. On the contrary since these negative emotions on the top of others will block any attempt for improvement and will impede your social relationship.
– Acceptance, tolerance and self-compassion do not mean self-complacency or being egocentric. –
Looking to be and do better should also be in our mind but controlling your self-negativity thru, first, acceptance is a must before looking for solutions.
– Finally, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, tolerance and kindness to others can never be achieved w/o applying them first to yourself . This is key in Zen Buddhist teaching.