Recently in China the subject of truly loving yourself came up while a group of us were having a meal. One friend told us how a teacher of his had suggested that he took time out every week to love himself and to do something to acknowledge that, maybe buy a fine meal with friends or a shopping excursion or a trip to a spa. He related how he had found this really difficult to do until one day at a seminar he did a massive forgiveness exercise with someone he had a long-standing grievance with and suddenly he found it much easier to love himself. Afterwards it seemed so simple; in order to love yourself, learn to forgive others. When we remember that A Course in Miracles describes forgiveness as ‘love on an earthly plane’ then it all seems to make sense.
So forgiving others is the path to self-love. Another way to say that is when we are in a place of self-hatred then we can ask ourselves, who is it that we are being asked to forgive? We will know when we have done that when the self-hatred turns to self-love.
There is one other small trap with all of this, which is that we regularly go shopping or take time off work or visit spas, bars and the rest. However, if afterwards we don’t feel we love ourselves and instead we feel bad about having done what we did, it means what we were doing was not loving ourselves but indulging ourselves. Self-love and indulgence are two very different things and the indulgence will just lead us back to a place of being in sacrifice, which is what we were feeling that we indulged ourselves in the first place and so a vicious circle is created. And what breaks this circle? Well, that is easy – forgiveness of course!
Who are you called to forgive today? And the answer is not ‘myself’, for feeling bad about ourselves is the basis of our self-hatred and we will not deeply shift anything. We are really being asked to forgive others; in our experience it is difficult if not impossible to have a bad emotion and not have a grievance against a significant other person.
Forgiving takes courage and it is those acts of courage that open our hearts, which is where love resides and flowers.
Love, Jeff and Sue