What Would it Take to Love Yourself?

Self love begins with acceptance. When you accept yourself as you are, with all your faults and failures, you are on the path to loving others generously, free of fear and the craving to be loved in return.

Everybody loves somebody. It is so much harder to love yourself. In those you love, you forgive the failings. Why is it so hard to show such compassion toward yourself?

The pattern started early. Young people, especially in the teenage years and early 20’s, compare themselves to others constantly. They are keenly aware of where they fall short.  I used to think that if anybody knew what a jerk I really was, they would despise and avoid me. I’d guess many young people feel the same way.

What doesn’t occur to them, and still doesn’t occur to most of us as we get older, is that each of us is a work in progress: evolving, changing, learning new things. We are in process and always will be. There is no destination in this life, only a series of tomorrows.

When you compare yourself to someone else, the comparison is with a snapshot of the other in  the current moment. You don’t see the process that led to this moment or how difficult it was to get there. But we can’t see ourselves that way because we are aware of all our steps–and stumbles–along the way.

That’s why the key to self love and self respect is acceptance. You may not be where you ultimately want to be in life. Who ever is? Wherever you have gotten to, you came by it honestly. Accept. Whatever process got you to where you are right now, it is uniquely your own process. Accept. Even if you want to change everything tomorrow and build a new and different life, accept where you are today.

Acceptance completes the past. It closes the book on however you reached where you are today. It allows you to look freshly toward the future without guilt or recrimination. You made mistakes. Accept them. You may have done stupid things. Learn from them. Write down all the dumb things you’ve ever done on a piece of paper. Then tear it up and throw it away. The past is over. It can’t hurt you unless you let it. Accept that the most powerful moment in life is right now, and you can’t access the power of this moment if you’re dragging  around failures of the past.

Accept yourself the way you accept the people you love. Warts and all. Love the warts. I’m not the prettiest, cleverest, most accomplished person I know and neither are you. So what? I have faults, lots of them. So do you. I accept mine, and you can accept yours. Do whatever you need to do to accept yourself exactly as you are in this moment, then move on. Turn your attention forward and create the life you want.

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