Recently a Human Being Training student asked the question: "What does self-love look like?" And here's the short answer to that wonderful inquiry: Self-love looks like doing only what you want. Only what makes your mind-heart-body thrilled (and sometimes a little scared).
This is where people get confused, because this idea sounds very selfish. I got thrown out of a famous commune a few years back because I suggested that the participants would do better to follow their own paths to self-realization (doing what they felt inspired to do), versus following the community party line, as it were. The outraged and angry response from the leadership was, "Amanda, what would happen if we all did what we wanted?!?" To which I sassily replied, "I don't know, but I think we'd be having a much better time!" Which, of course, didn't help at all. ;) But it's true.
The reason I tell you this story is because people in general (including those who consider themselves enlightened) are aghast at the idea of doing what they want. It would mean accepting their absolute power over themselves as the creators of their own lives, along with the tremendous responsibility that comes with this ultimate, inherent freedom. 99% of people want no part of that. They want to be told what to do by their religions, their governments, their parents, their schools, their friends, their local law enforcement--they automatically perceive any voice of authority outside of themselves to be more powerful than their own (if they even acknowledge that they have power).
Now, along with this information, I have to explain what "doing what you want" looks like. Two main things:
1. It's not something that happens from a big Eff You kind of attitude, although this can get you started. It's more like this: "Hey, I'm going to do what I want, and I hope you do also, because I want nothing but the best for you." True doing-what-you-want comes from a very loving place. You can't help anyone if you're a total wreck of exhaustion, resentment, and bitterness. We all know sad-sack martyrs. How much are they really contributing to the world?
2. It can often take the form of a major shift in attitude. So, as a CalPoly students said the other night, "I went from saying, 'Damn, I have to do my homework," to "I WANT to do my homework so I do well in X class so I can become the best X in the world, which is my overarching goal." Or my personal favorite, "Wha. I have to stop at Trader Joe's on the way home," becomes "I GET TO stop at TJ's on the way home so I can buy good food with the money I awesomely have, and carry it home in my MINI Cooper car that I love. I'm so effing lucky."
I hope this helps. And I hope you can see now that while this is a very powerful self-love practice, it's also perhaps the least-selfish thing you can do. Those who don't understand yet will call you selfish, invariably. But as you learn to take your power back through this practice of being in charge of your own happiness, you'll teach the others around you to as well. Or at least give them a glimpse that something different and wonderful is possible. And that's really what the world needs most right now.
One of my favorite lines from the music I've been listening to lately is "Come down from your cross, we could use the wood." :)
I think martyrdom and socially conditioned "self-sacrifice" are among the most damaging and selfish ideas out there.
But don't take my word for it! Try it out yourself, and please let me know how it goes.
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