There are only three relationships you can have: one is with God; one is with Self; and one is with Others. To nurture a relationship with God involves the practice of prayer and meditation, as well as being as loving as humanly possible.
The second relationship-the one with Self-involves the nurturance of the first relationship-with God-but also involves the nurturance of self-healing and practicing healthy boundaries.
The third relationship-the one with Others-is certainly important but the relationship with Self is more important because the relationship with others is merely mirroring your relationship with yourself. This means that every ounce of love that is present OR absent for yourself, will be reflected in your love OR lack of love toward others, which is demonstrated in many forms-not just overt love or hatred.
You cannot truly love others if you do not love yourself. It’s that simple! And every word or action of love and support OR gossip and attack on others, merely reflects a bright and expanding love you have for yourself OR a sad and unfortunate lack of love. There is no argument to this. We see in others what exists in ourselves.
Loving ourselves, however, means doing so on every level of our being. If we divide ourselves into FIVE parts (using the chakras as a metaphor), we would have our spiritual self located in the upper three chakras. Then, as we descend, we find the heart, mental, emotional, and physical chakras-all totaling five. So let’s look at how we might practice loving ourselves on all five levels.
Loving Self at the level of Spirit is not easily defined, as it means walking the earth as the Christ. It means knowing who you really are-as much of the time as possible. It means loving your Self for who you REALLY are-Christ-and yet also lovingly holding compassion for who you really are not-the wounded or ego self.
OUR HEART & SOUL
Loving Self at the level of the soul is not possible without recognizing that all is one, because ONENESS is an attribute of the heart & soul. And seeing things as ONE means knowing that we never love or condemn others without loving or condemning ourselves. In our hearts, we are all ONE. So we can never claim to be in our heart while judging another person in any way.
One way to awaken the heart’s ability to love more fully is to be aware of what we focus our thoughts and imaginings on. Matthew 6:21 says, “Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.” This means that whatever it is that we value most (or are invested in or focused on), is what our soul focuses on and is what we become. This refers not just to the things we value materially, but what we spend most of our thoughts and imaginings on-because thoughts and imaginings are of the heart chakra.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when we died, our next destination was determined by one thing: They weighed your heart on a scale against a feather. If your heart was lighter than a feather, then you went to heaven, because it meant your heart was filled with light and lightness (i.e. love and care for God, Self, and Others). But if your heart was heavier than the feather, it meant your heart was too burdened (i.e. judgment or sadness with God, Self, or others) and you were therefore sent back to earth to try again.
If we want to know if our hearts are open, we need but to observe ourselves and ask if we are practicing and feeling love, forgiveness, joy, creativity, humanitarianism, and any other attributes of the heart. In other words, we can know how much we are in our heart by how much we practice heart-like characteristics.
Loving Self at the level of the mind means choosing to release judgments on our self and instead allowing the mind to think only what it can think with God-choosing to have only God/Good thoughts.
The Priests & Pharisees of this world are supposed to represent God but they lost God, then lost their own heart, dropped down into their lower mind, and then ruled and made decisions from there. This is why their words (although sometimes properly recited) and their actions, were filled with hate and jealousy. It’s also why Jesus said that the Pharisees could not understand his words. He told them that their hearts were closed, because they too often ate from the Tree of Judgment and fault-finding (The Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil).
Loving Self at the emotional level means first to truly “know thyself.” And we certainly cannot know ourselves without practicing adequate self-healing, having healthy boundaries, and choosing healthy relationships.
Knowing ourselves means knowing what makes us tick and why we respond to things the way we do. This simply cannot be done without having a close and honest relationship (as well as an ongoing inner dialog) with ourselves. Most people fail to have this inner relationship and instead fail to know from whence their responses have come-thus making it more of a reaction than a response.
Having a relationship with ourselves is essential before we can expect to have a healthy relationship with others. Further, we can never be truly present or truly loving to others, if we have not yet learned to navigate the waters of our own emotions. In the core of all our reactions lies the potential of our wounds and inadequacies pulling the strings.
OUR PHYSICAL & MATERIAL SELF
Loving Self at the physical or material level means physical self-nurturance and self-care, as well as loving actions.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Perform Random Acts of Kindness?” Notice how it didn’t say, “Perform Random conversations about Kindness.” It’s because when we grow enough spiritually, we are called to take loving action and no longer just talk about it. A person truly practicing the 12-steps is more authentically on the spiritual path than one who has all the words but takes no proper action.
Again, there are only three relationships we can have and the one we have with ourselves, comes before the one with Others-and for good reason. Generally speaking, Others merely show us how we are doing with ourselves and with God. So if we truly feel and demonstrate love for God and Self, it’s almost certain we will have all we need to love Others.
And, not only do we need to love ourselves, we must learn to do so on all levels (as mentioned above)-physically, emotionally, mentally, lovingly, and spiritually.