In order to love selflessly you must first love yourself.

I recently wrote a post called “Love Yourself First and the Rest Will Fall into Place” and I decided to write a follow up post. Partly because I feel this topic is so important, but I also want spread the beauty of happens when you truly love and accept yourself. Self-love is essential to loving selflessly…it’s not arrogant, it’s not conceited and it’s not selfish. Many of us find it difficult to praise ourselves and even have a tendency to put ourselves down to avoid feeling self-centered. In the Buddhist tradition developing self-love is considered a prerequisite for fully loving others. Self-love and confidence are empowering and you’re setting an example for others by loving yourself first. It’s essential to spreading love because loving yourself opens your heart to fully loving and accepting others.

Until I could love myself I had all of these unreasonable expectations of myself and everyone else around me.

Not even realizing it at the time, I didn’t think anyone would love me until I met these expectations, because I couldn’t love myself until I met them. I assumed everyone would see how unworthy and flawed I was so I became a perfectionist. The problem was I’m not perfect so I was never enough, not even for myself. These expectations bled into my relationships with other people. I couldn’t fully accept the people closest to me for who they were because I expected them to meet the high standards I had set for myself. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but the truth is until I got to the root of the issue I would make excuses for feeling this way. I would constantly find reasons to justify my negative self-talk. Getting brutally honest with myself has allowed me to bring my truth to light. I’m able to admit I felt this way because I’m no longer lying to myself and disguising the behavior. I’m no longer numb to it and I no longer minimalize it.

We do this thing where we expect everyone to think, feel and behave as we deem acceptable. To think and feel just as we do, so we have a hard time accepting people for who they are. We all have the right to be different and unique.

We judge people and their choices based on how we would behave. We believe our own opinions and choices to be right and, instead of learning from different points of view, we criticize people for thinking differently. Instead of celebrating our differences we attempt to put other people down in an effort to feel superior. At least I used to. This negative energy we put into judging sucks the life out of us, but when we learn to love ourselves we’re filled with positive energy which strengthens us. Getting connected to who we really are is freedom from judgment. When we judge others it’s the self-made ego trying to justify our feelings by projecting them onto others and it’s toxic.

At times being right was so important to me I would judge anyone who didn’t share my opinions just to feel good about myself.  I had to learn to accept myself for who I was, to just allow me to be. I did this by cleaning out all of the garbage, by stripping away all of my illusory fears and turning my character defects into assets. I don’t know exactly when it happened but I realized one day that I’m an amazing human being with so much to give. More importantly I realized we all are. We are all beautiful, kind, intelligent and worthy. Today, I’m able to give love freely because it’s within me.

Loving myself has allowed me to love everyone for who they are – it’s allowed me to be truly selfless.

I don’t care what others think of me and I’m not worried that they’ll judge my choices, words or actions. I don’t spend time living in fear that what I do will be looked down upon or ridiculed. I don’t care if I’m the topic of conversation. I’m able to give selflessly because I don’t have to be right. I can pay compliments, do nice things and offer support or love to anyone who needs it without fear of abandonment or rejection. All because I know who I am and I don’t need validation from anyone. I’m able to be there for people without needing anything from them. I don’t get upset if they aren’t grateful, because I’m giving to give and not to receive…I’m already giving myself all the love I need. I can tell people how important they are to me without fear. I can get vulnerable with my friends, family and the man in my life because I’m not doing it for any other reason than to make them happy which in turn that makes me happy.

I don’t need validation and I don’t need love from others because I am love. I’m free to love unconditionally and I’m free to give without expectation. Self-love is essential to loving selflessly.

Today I attract people who appreciate me. I don’t have to portray myself as something I’m not to be accepted by anyone. When we try to be something different than which we are we attract people who weren’t meant for us. Not only do we end up unhappy in these relationships but we waste so much energy keeping up the façade that we never get to do what truly makes us happy. Then we end up blaming others for why things didn’t work out or why things didn’t go our way. Today I do what makes me smile and I’ve attracted some pretty amazing people into my life because of it. People I trust and love with all of my soul and who I can be my true self around.

By being myself I’ve attracted people into my life who love the real me and that’s so much easier than playing the role of someone else.

It goes both ways. Being honest with myself has attracted me to like-minded people because I’m not fighting who I am. I’m not trying to be something I’m not based on a self-made perception of perfection. I don’t look at people and glorify them because they have things I want. I no longer reach and grasp. I see right through to what’s inside. I can see the beauty in people and I’m not focusing on the negative. It’s brought a sense of freedom because I know if they do exit my life it’s ok. If I cling to people and situations that weren’t meant for me I end up in the dark place that breeds self-loathing. I start to feel like a failure and I start telling myself it’s because I wasn’t worthy…then the whole vicious cycle starts over again. How can I spread love if I’m in the depths of self-loathing?

Trust the process. Follow your heart; it will always lead you exactly where you’re supposed to be. Be present and stay connected to your inner self. Loving who you are is the first step in the selfless love that comes from self-love.