Loving OurselfMost of us on our healing path have become very familiar with the admonition to "love ourselves." We may be clear that our purpose is to bring more love into the world. Since how we perceive and relate to "the world" is always a mirror of how we perceive and relate to ourselves, our goal is really to bring more love into ourselves. It is important to understand that, in terms of cause and effect, the external world is a reflection (or an "effect") of our "internal world: (our self), which is the opposite of how we naturally perceive things to be.
We're generally very clear that we'd like to experience more love in our own lives, both for ourselves and for others. Yet many of us feel "stuck" in this situation: we are always wanting more love because it always seems to be lacking. So our clarity about wanting more love in our lives has not of itself led to the experience of more love. When we notice this, we feel frustration, because we don't understand why our intentions for manifesting more love have not resulted in a fulfilling experience of more love; there always seems to be a troubling "gap" between our intention and our experience, regarding love.
In looking at this, we may discover in ourselves a deep sense of powerlessness and feelings of abandonment around our seeming inability to create more love in our life, and we may be prone to angrily fling the whole painful issue away from ourselves, instead of looking at it more closely; or we may just "drop the subject." What is left is a vague, gnawing doubt, covering up our fear of looking at this painful issue.
Many of us are still struggling with deciding whether or not (or how) God loves us. Others have moved beyond this struggle into the clear knowledge that God does indeed love us; but even with this certain knowledge, we may continue to experience the same distressing lack of love in our lives. Or, we may even vacillate between knowing that God loves us, and questioning whether He does. It doesn't seem to matter which category we fall into; our struggle follows us like a faithful dog.
With all inner conflicts, our most important source of information is our feelings. When we have the courage to explore them honestly, they always lead us to the true root of the issue, and to its solution. Courage, however, is not all that is required for a "successful" inner exploration; equally important are a willingness to learn that some of our beliefs actually are not true, and to gracefully give up these beliefs when we recognize them. We also learn that there are things which we are denying that really ARE true, and we must be willing to gracefully give up our denial.
Giving up our false beliefs and our denials always feels difficult and scary, because they are a form of "protection," and there is therefore always a fear behind them of whatever they are protecting us from. That these false beliefs can protect us is an illusion, however, because it is never US they are protecting; their real purpose is always to protect our EGO. Our ego has convinced us that it is WE who should fear for our survival, but that is merely our ego's projection of its own fear onto us. By convincing us that WE are in danger, our ego gains our support for its own agenda (our ego's survival). This is ironic, because in supporting our ego's survival, we are preventing our own healing, and perpetuating our feeling of a lack of love.
Who WE really ARE cannot ever be destroyed nor threatened, because we are a part of God. The ego, however, can only exist as long as we agree to continue to forget the truth of who we are, so the ego is understandably fearful for its own existence. It knows full well that as soon as we tire of our illusion of separateness, and withdraw our support from it, it will cease to "exist."
Love is not of separateness and the ego; it is of the unity of God, because it IS God. Love dissolves all of the ego's tools of separation: fear, anger, hatred, blame, denial, alienation, boredom, apathy, etc. To the ego, love means annihilation, so the ego is rightly fearful of it.
All of "our" fears are actually the fears of our insecure ego. In order to survive, it must continue to convince us of our separateness. When we "believe" our fears, we support our ego; we identify with its perception of separateness, which is the only thing that can really be threatened. And what threatens our separateness is the experience of love.
The ego is insane, but it isn't stupid: it knows that you truly value love above all else, so it doesn't simply tell you outright that love is "bad" and must be avoided; it knows you wouldn't go for that. Therefore it schemes and manoevers beneath your awareness to make you fearful of the situations and possibilities that would lead to greater love. We have all experienced in our own lives how love will blossom, only to then be systematically destroyed by fear, blame, anger, and other tools of the ego, until it is completely gone. The ego wages a war of attrition against love, and against your value of and belief in love.
Where there is an absence of love, blame is usually present. When we experience a lack of love in our lives, we have probably allowed our ego to substitute blame for love.
Most of us know that loving ourself is the basis for loving anything and everything else, but self-love also seems to be the most difficult subject to get a handle on. When we look at issues of self-love, we are often faced with a peculiar inner silence, a seeming lack of any data to work with. It is easy to convince ourselves that there IS nothing there to work with, and move on to a different subect.
All issues of love are issues of self-love. To say that we want more love in our lives is really to say that we want more self-love. Knowing this, ANY issue of love can be used to examine our issues of self-love; all that are needed are the awareness that all love issues are self-love issues, and the willingness to shift our perception of the issue to the arena of self-love.
Let's look back to where we started, the issue of "wanting more love in my life." We may say, "I want to really feel God's love for me," or "I want to experience my own deep love for God/myself/everything." Whatever you choose to focus on, the common denominator is always the experience of a lack of love, and we know that this must mean a lack of SELF-LOVE.
Where there is a lack of love, there is blame. Where there is a lack of self-love, there is self-blame. Most of us have been thoroughly conditioned to believe that we are "good" when we love, and "bad" when we don't love. We are also just as conditioned to BLAME whatever is "bad" -- in this case, we blame ourselves, because WE FEEL WE ARE BAD FOR NOT LOVING ENOUGH. Your ego will jump at any opportunity to blame (including blaming yourself), because blaming is its chief way of asserting your/its separateness, and keeping love at a "safe distance." Thus, we are conditioned to react to feeling a lack of love by BLAMING OURSELF. Blaming ourself makes us feel even more separate and unworthy of love. This is clearly a vicious circle leading to more separation and less love, and is perpetuated to the advantage of the ego.
Understanding this, we see that reducing self-blame is an important key to increasing self-love. At this point, though, what is much more important than "action" is simply letting our awareness of the self-blame dynamic grow and become very clear. Our urge to act and "fix" the situation is motivated by our ego, which always judges things as "good/bad," or "right/wrong." If we act out of a judgement of the situation as being "bad" (needing to be "fixed"), we are tacitly supporting our ego by agreeing with its judgement, and with the premise of judgement itself. If we want to experience more love, our goal should be not to support our ego at all, which is best accomplished by releasing our attachment to its judgements. Notice how attached you feel to judgements like "This situation needs to be changed!" or "You're failing because you aren't creating what you want in your life," etc. As long as you continue to hold onto such assessments by agreeing with them, you support your ego in its quest to keep you separate and loveless. If you DISAGREE with your ego's judgements, you are STILL playing its game by giving your support to judgement and blame. At this point you may feel like you can't win! Your ego will gladly support this idea.
A good tool to use in this kind of situation is FOCUS. It's all too easy to get sucked into a mental whirlpool of judgements, evaluations, analysis, blame, doubt, fear, despair, etc., which can quickly overwhelm you and leave you feeling confused and disempowered. ALL of this frenetic mental activity belongs to the ego, and serves only to derail us from our quest for oneness. This kind of "confusion attack" is a sure sign that you are on the right track, and getting close to something important that ego is desperately trying to keep you away from.
When you start to feel overwhelmed by mental or emotional activity, you can focus your attention (and your intention) on simply RELEASING all of that activity. Breathe deeply, relax, and just focus your attention on your "conscious awareness" itself, wherever you physically sense it to be located (often just behind the forehead). In this way, you can draw your awareness away from any mental and emotional confusion, and focus it back onto your sense of self and your conscious intentions. Allow any confusion to "just be" (don't try to "kill" it), and keep bringing you awareness back out the activity, back to your intention to release it, and to release yourself from it. This may be effective immediately, or it may take a few minutes, but this method is nearly always successful in "rescuing" yourself from an ego attack.
What we can see now is that our feelings of self-blame, which may be difficult to identify, are intimately bound to our issues of self-love. A constructive way to use to this understanding is to create for yourself a clear intention and commitment to discover any self-blame, and to release yourself from it. This can only be effectively done in a gentle manner, since if you "attack" self-blame, you are merely indulging in more of it. Blame cannot be forcefully removed; it can only be RELEASED. We are tempted to "fight fire with fire," but the tools of the ego (judgement, vindictivenes, righteousness, attack, etc.) are like black magic; the power they seem to offer is seductive, and although we think we can wield them to further our own purpose, we find out that they can really only serve their maker (the ego). In using the ego's tools, we become dependent on them, and our own will becomes subservient to our ego's.
The way to recover your OWN power is to give up the power that you have "borrowed" from your ego in using its tools. In reality, though, you ego has no power of its own; truly, it is your ego that has been borrowing YOUR power, which is why it is fearful, and why you should be encouraged. Refuse to lend your ego your power by refusing to believe what is tells you (the messages of fear and separation), or to do what it bids you. The key to success in this lies in realizing that LENDING YOUR POWER TO YOUR EGO REALLY IS A CHOICE THAT YOU ARE MAKING. You are struggling to break free from the spell of the "black magic" that you have embraced by using your ego's tools of separation.
You must learn to recognize the voice of your ego -- the voice of fear and blame -- and refuse its "power" and its tools. This means that you do not resist or fight your ego, but rather simply allow it, release it, and choose to re-focus your awareness and your energy away from it. "Allowing" is an act of love, and is the only alternative to resisting, which is an act of fear arising from a belief in separation. Do not attack and resist your own self-blame; simply refuse to believe it or empower it. Your self-blame is not really YOURS, anyway; it belongs to your ego. When you see this, you release it, release your attachment to it, and it simply ceases.
If you accept and expect only small miracles and slow, steady progress, you will not be easily disappointed.
by Matthew Blais
Permission is hereby granted by the author to copy and distribute this article, where proper credit is given.