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  • Writer's pictureJohn Turnquist

Cultivating Genuine Self-Love

Self-love is an unconditional inner knowing of your inherent worth and value. It's an attitude as well as a pattern of growth-supporting actions, the two mutually reinforcing each other. In its highest expression, it's an experience of the ecstatic bliss of existing for the sake of existing ("I AM!")

In more concrete terms, self-love emerges from a combination of:

-Surrounding yourself with loving and supportive people, who bring out and cultivate your best self -Nourishing your mind-body with healthy food, ideas, feelings -Forgiving self and other for past transgressions -Taking scary risks in the service of self-growth and happiness -Listening to the longings of your heart -Changing negative self-talk to loving, encouraging self-talk -Setting protective boundaries, and believing in your right to do so -Honest self-reflection (even if uncomfortable) to gain more self-awareness -Finding a sustainable balance between healthy selfLESSness and healthy selFISHness -Sharing your inner experience with trusted others; allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and to be known, without masks -Appreciating how difficult the human experience can be, and not beating yourself up for not being perfect -Balanced self-discipline -A willingness to embrace and tolerate discomfort, without resorting to quick-and-easy, feel-good solutions -Giving yourself complete permission to experience pleasure, without neurotic guilt or shame -Understanding how you're interconnected to everything and everyone; giving back to the life systems that support you -Seeing yourself in other people, and other people in you; cultivating empathy -Authoring your human story with a sense of meaning and purpose ("I matter, and this is why!")

For some, self-love comes easily; for others, it's a great achievement -- the crown jewel of hard inner work. For the latter -- and this includes me -- we eventually realize that genuine love never had to be earned in the first place. It was always there, waiting for us to rediscover its all-embracing presence.

To quote T.S. Elliot: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

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