“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know this is AUTHENTICITY.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health: food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since, I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations, or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!”
In past articles, I have written how extremely important it is to totally and unconditionally love ourselves. I remember at one time I was told that to love ourselves was arrogant and vain. There is a huge difference between arrogance and having a healthy self-esteem. Arrogance means we think we are better than everyone else. Having a healthy self-esteem means we know we are the best there is, yet it has nothing to do with anyone else.
We should all be trying to improve ourselves and trying to be the best that we can be! Is it easy? Not for most of us. Not for me anyway. I have to constantly work on myself. If you heard some of the things I said to myself and how I can beat myself to a pulp with my thoughts, you’d be surprised! It’s a constant process of learning to love every cell of our being: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Joel Osteen said, “Don't ever criticize yourself. Don't go around all day long thinking, 'I'm unattractive, I'm slow, I'm not as smart as my brother.' God wasn't having a bad day when he made you... If you don't love yourself in the right way, you can't love your neighbor. You can't be as good as you are supposed to be.”
No matter who wrote the above essay, it’s a good guide to follow in learning to love ourselves. And just as it is with anything, it takes practice. We are all diamonds in the rough, being cut, sanded, and polished. But no matter what our diamonds look like or where we are on our life’s journey, we can all learn to sparkle, and we were all meant to shine!
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 24, 2015.