The author of What Are You Hungry For? shows us how to face down our inner critic—and start accepting (and admiring) ourselves for who we are. By Deepak Chopra how to love yourself unconditionally – A mother loves her newborn child without reservation, and romantic love, in its first stages of infatuation, can make the beloved seem perfect. But most of us doubt that love without reservation, love completely forgiving and accepting, exists in our everyday lives. Looking in the mirror, all of us see too many flaws and remember too many past wounds and failings to love ourselves without also putting a limit on that love. In order to expand the love you experience now into unconditional love, you need to involve a spiritual element. There is a path to unconditional love, as with any spiritual aspiration, and on this path there is a beginning, middle and end. Let me describe each a little to give you an idea of how the path unfolds. Beginning: You see yourself as wanting and needing love, usually more than you are receiving. You feel insecure about being lovable, but your ego is there to boost you (or not). You love others, for the most part, according to how much they love you or appeal to your sense of romance, sexuality and compatibility. Relationships involve a constant negotiation between what you want and what your partner wants. The words that apply to this love include the following: passion, attachment, dependency, merging, romance, mutual need, liking and compatibility. Middle: When you aspire to a higher kind of love, ego and neediness begin to count for much less. You feel that love can be a healing force that binds everyone. You can love someone else without needing anything from him or her. Such love begins to be less personal and attached. Your awareness expands, and you feel less insecure. Love becomes more mature and peaceful. Relationships involve mutual appreciation; there are fewer conflicts between two defensive personalities. The words that apply to this love include the following: idealistic, calm, unselfish, giving, empathic, forgiving and accepting. End: When all limitations are left behind, love becomes unconditional. You feel that it emerges from a spiritual source inside yourself. This is more than a feeling; you’ve tapped into a universal aspect of Being. No longer do you have a personal stake in the people you love. Pure compassion is possible now and a sense of belonging to the human family. Relationships involve no struggle or contending needs and wants. Love becomes a self-sufficient state of fulfillment. The words that apply to this love include the following: blissful, transcendent, saintly, luminous, ecstatic and boundless.
BY LEO BABAUTA
There was a long time when the lack of belief in myself was a major factor in my life.
I didn’t pursue an ideal career, or start my own business, because I didn’t think I could. I didn’t stick to habits because I didn’t really believe I had the discipline. I was shy with girls, I had a hard time making new friends, I didn’t assert myself in the workplace. I didn’t push past my comfort zone.
All because I didn’t really believe I could.
While I’m not free of self-doubt these days, I can honestly say I believe in myself like never before. That doesn’t mean I think I’ll never fail or quit: I will. Probably often.
And that’s OK.
The trick is that I learned it’s completely fine to try and fail, to put yourself out there and not be perfect, to say hello to someone and have them not instantly love you, to create something and have people judge you.
Failure, not being perfect, mistakes, not having people agree with me, not being completely accepted: these are not negative things. They’re positive.
How is failure positive? It’s the only way we truly learn. For example: you can read a book on math, but until you try it and fail, you’ll never see where your lack of understanding is. The best way to learn something is to study it a bit, then try it, take practice tests, make mistakes, then learn some more.
How are mistakes positive? They’re little pieces of feedback necessary to grow and learn.
How is being rejected positive? It means I’m growing beyond the absolutely socially acceptable realm. The best people in history were not socially acceptable: truth-tellers like Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Proudhon and Bakunin, Martin Luther King Jr., animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, unschooling pioneer John Holt, women’s rights activists, abolitionists, and many more.
These things we’re afraid of — they’re actually desirable. We need to learn to see them that way, and embrace them, letting go of the fear.
When we can get better at this — which takes a lot of practice — we can start to remove the things that hold us back.
Push past your discomfort, growing your discomfort method.Put yourself out there, and be OK with not knowing if people will accept you.Stick to a habit, not listening to the negative self-talk that normally holds you back.Stick to it some more, and learn to trust yourself.Go into situations not knowing, and learn to be OK with that.Learn through repeated attempts that it’s OK to fail, that you can be OK in failure.Learn through repeated experiments that you are stronger than you think, that you are more capable and more tolerant of discomfort than you think.
And in this practice, you will find yourself. And realize that you were great all along.
Caring what others think of me has actually been a huge struggle throughout my life. When you’re an empathetic person with an open heart, it comes with the territory. It doesn’t matter that I’ve always been opinionated or “strong.” I am still a human being and care so much about others that many times I open myself up to being hurt. My strength comes from not letting that stop me. I refuse to let hate (from others) keep me from making a difference in this world or keep me from loving myself and others.
It takes experience to learn the art of setting boundaries, and with age comes wisdom. No matter what good you do, people are on their own journey. People make assumptions. People judge. People are hurting, so people hurt others.
I’m going to tell you, though, how I finally stopped caring what others think of me.
I stopped caring what people think about me when I realized that most people don’t even think good things about themselves.
I stopped caring what people think about me when I realized the only opinion that matters about myself is my own.
I stopped caring what people think about me when I learned to love myself.
The more we are at peace with who we are, the more we can simply love. It’s why I try to help others learn this as well. It’s how change will happen.
Many people say, “I wish I had your confidence.”
Honey, that’s a choice.
I’m telling you right now: you have to make that choice for yourself. When you get up in the morning, stop the negative talk that is on auto-play in your big, beautiful brain. Tell yourself you are only guaranteed this day, so you don’t have the time to waste hating yourself. Tell yourself you are beautiful and smart and a wonderful wife/mom/friend/sister/poet/gardener/lover/barista/etc. You may have to remind yourself of this all day long. Then one day you will only have to tell yourself in the morning, and maybe once more in the day.
Then one day you will wake up and just KNOW IT.
It’s your choice to let the hateful auto-play continue today — or to stop it in its tracks and replace it with the grace, love and compassion you deserve.
Does this mean we don’t need to grow and change? No. Life is hard, and sometimes we are faced with needing to make amends, say sorry, work on an issue in our lives. Guess what?! You don’t have to hate yourself through it. You can love yourself through it. Doesn’t that sound better? Love yourself through life, as you’d love a child through his or her lessons in life. Be a good friend to yourself. Surround yourself with wonderful people who love you for you (and whom you love in return for who they are). Life is too short for anything less.