YES to MORE Self-Love for YOU

2.11.09 page        

Practicing Loving Ourselves

By SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)

How well and often do you love yourself? Are you your own best friend? How kindly and exquisitely do you tend to your own soul? Your answers to these questions may reveal an opportunity to practice more self-love. In my book: Fabulous Friendship Festival; Loving Wildly, Learning Deeply, Living Fully with Our Friends, I write about self-friendship, and have discovered through teaching workshops about it, that about 85% of people do not identify or describe themselves as their own closest friend.

We are taught to love ourselves, from many sources, such as the bible; "Love thy neighbor as thyself" to every metaphysical teaching, yet the actual practice of it is not often or openly discussed. It's as if we're just supposed to do it "naturally" and not need support, permission, reminders or examples.

Most of us are practicing being outer focused first, tending to the needs and requests of others before ourselves. Then somehow, it seems that there isn't enough time left over for ourselves. That's because we're doing it backwards. To truly love and be friends with others, we must practice loving ourselves well and fully on a daily basis. If we don't, we all witness and experience crabby unloved people walking around, living their lives not experiencing self-love (or loving others.)

While in New York city recently, I met a hotel manager who projected absolute radiant positive energy. When I complimented him and told him how much I appreciated it, he enthusiastically said; "I know! I am just so in love with myself!" I felt that love in every cell of my body, and stuck to him like a magnet during my stay at that hotel. When I share this story with groups of people, they laugh because it just sounds so unusual and strange. Yet, when we fall in love with another person, it's perfectly acceptable and expected to exclaim about our love, and everyone cheers and applauds.

We still think that self-love is selfish and narcissistic, forgetting that conscious selfishness is necessary for loving ourselves, and that we cannot truly love others without these experiences of self-loving. We are all selfish-in the best sense of what that means- to care for ourselves first.

I've been practicing loving myself more deeply in a number of new ways, beginning and ending my days
by hugging myself. It began with a moment or two, and it's now escalated to 5-10 minutes at a time. I can feel all my endorphins being elevated, and always end up grinning and beaming. I've begun saying out loud in certain situations; "I'm just so in love with myself!" and noticing the responses. Most people love it and want to join in. As I expand my experiences of self-love, I've observed that I'm more available and loving to friends and family too. It's as if my own inside well is so full of love, that I just naturally share the overflow.

I think I used to feel a little scared that if I really loved myself, I'd become so self-absorbed that there wouldn't be room for anyone else. The opposite is truly occurring and I'm steeped in self-love, friendship with myself and exquisite self-care practices that radiate out directly to the world. I keep a daily joy and gratitude journal, and fill pages with wonderful experiences and morsels of goodness. I'm always on the lookout for more, and this draws more of those kinds of experiences to me. Practicing self-friendship and love also means tending to, and being present for the the times I don't feel positive or self-loving at all.

How do we practice self-love during those times too?

It's easy to love ourselves when we feel good and "things are going our way," it's less easy when we experience self-criticism, frustration, negativity or self-abandonment.

How unconditional is your love for your self?

We are all made up of light and shadows, and many of us try to flee the shadows and stay in the light.
Wanting to live in the light isn't the problem, attempting to flee the shadows is. As long as we continue to turn away from the parts of ourselves that we judge as unworthy, unacceptable or unlovable, we will continue to experience separation and lack of love.

In order to more deeply and consistently practice self-love and self-friendship, it is helpful to have resources. Here are some I personally utilize and recommend:

1. Loving What Is by Byron Katie
2. Ask and it Is Given by Jerry & Esther Hicks
3. The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer
4. Relax Into Wealth by Alan Cohen
5. Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone
6. Making A Change For Good by Cheri Huber
7. The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson
8. All the music of Karen Drucker

Self-healing is available to each one of us, and we forget the power of it, and don't often include ourselves on such lists. We may be tempted to endow "someone else" with the knowledge or way to go, forgetting that we do the actual work and apply the teachings.

So, become the most marvelous friend to yourself first. Find your broken places and gain strength there too. Practice looking into your shadows (you can use a flashlight) and become aware of how to best care for yourself during those times also, and experience loving yourself unconditionally more often.

Turn your wide heart and loving eyes towards yourself and awaken what you already know:
By everyone, especially yourself!

Copyright © 2009 SARK

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  1. Di

    And the magic of the universe made sure I read this on the day I really truly needed it. Thank you 🙂

  2. Debbie

    What a wonderful post! As I read your words, a little voice inside of me kept saying, “YES! That is how it is meant to be.” How can we truly share our gifts with others, if we aren’t willing to admit that we are worthy of them, ourselves. Self-love teaches us how to truly love others. It teaches us to be gentle with ourselves and to treat ourselves with kindness.
    Thank you for your beautiful reminder. Another book which is a very good resource on this subject is, “The Art of Extreme Self-Care” by Cheryl Richardson. I just started reading it and I think you would enjoy it.
    Big hugs,

  3. Debbie

    Oh my gosh, I just went back to your list and noticed that the book I suggested was already on there! I was going to check out some of the books that you recommended and there it was! Sorry about that!
    Hugs again,

  4. Gypsy Alex

    I just love to see this online journal, Sark! Thank you for starting it! xo

  5. Dottie

    Thank you for the self-love reminder! I’m going to hug myself everyday!

  6. Leslie

    How totally wonderful, Susan!!!!
    I love this article. I keep waking up feeling full of self-love, and it is wonderful. I am working on making that feeling last all day long!
    And I LOVE what you wrote about always being on the lookout for more joy.
    Me, too!

  7. Amy

    Such perfect timing! Thank you for sharing these beautiful truths with all of us. Your own self-love is so delightful and inspiring.

  8. Victoria SkyDancer

    “…many of us try to flee the shadows and stay in the light. Wanting to live in the light isn’t the problem, attempting to flee the shadows is.”
    HO, lovely Susan!
    To that end, if I may add two books to your list, both by Debbie Ford:
    The Dark Side of the Lightchasers
    The Secret of the Shadow
    Doing the exercises in these books will Change Your Life, forever & well!
    Lotsa (Self-) Lovin’ to ya,

  9. Athena

    Hi Sark,
    I’ve always been a self-loving person, and lately it has been so much harder for me! I just went through some pretty big life changes, and for the first time am really at a loss for my usual self love, instead spending way too much time with my inner critic. Something that helps me (in addition to your wonderful books and writings and inspirations!) is to keep in mind that the light-side of me is there too, and that this experience is just a certain “time” in my life. The thought of the permanency of the self-critic can be scary!
    Thank you for all your creative support throughout these “times”

  10. Laura

    Every year, I hold off on making any “New Year’s Resolutions” for my birthday (Feb 6th). It gives me the whole month of January to reflect on the past year’s growth and contemplate my focus for the upcoming year. This year, I decided to focus on loving myself more, which has always been very difficult for me. Reading your journal re-affirmed that this is truly the year for me to fall in love with myself. Thanks for your wisdom.

  11. Katell Kennedy

    …..and a lovely Valentine’s Day to you too!! 🙂
    All The Best,
    *and it was just what I needed.

  12. Diane

    I have always been hard on myself as that was taught as “noble” among the people that raised me. I have a shoppe that sells your books, magnets, cards…and it has taken a while for me to pick up the materials you have written and actually have them begin to penetrate and become important. I not only matter, I deserve to be celebrated….wow! By me! Wow! Thank you for writing in fun colors and giving permission to the Me that is Me to be celebrated as much as the masses I thought I was here to serve. (erp!) You rock! Keep it coming!

  13. Daisy Sunshine

    When I first heard you talk about hugging yourself I thought it sounded pretty strange but then I tried it (strangely enough while I was laying in the bathtub). I just gave myself a big hug while I was laying there and you know what it felt great and it didn`t even feel that weird. One step towards loving myself more!
    Thank you for always sharing things that most people would be embaressed to share as your example inspires me to embrace and love my ENTIRE self.
    PS The first time I read your words…YOU ARE SEEN, YOU ARE KNOWN, YOU ARE LOVED I was beside myself as I have waited my entire life to hear that. Thank you.
    Thank you Sark

  14. Jessica I.

    I so needed to read this right now. I’m printing it out actually.
    Lately I’ve been feeling so drained, worried, anxious, not attractive.
    I manage to hide it well – but that’s not what I should be doing! I’ve decided I’m going to make time for myself to meditate, to exercise and to take alone time when I need it because I must love myself first and foremost.

  15. Wes

    …not only do I love me
    …and us
    …but you, too, amazing Susan Kennedy!!!

  16. creativevoyage

    what a fabulous reminder and yes that self love allows more love of others. I’ve got a feeling myself love is a bit low at the moment – the clue is that I’m being grumpy and irriatated by other people. Ie I’m being grumpy and irriated by myself. Time for some self love
    Hummm time for Utterly Delicious Cake Making for myself and lounging deliciously with my cat frida

  17. Allie

    I don’t know why I didn’t look for you before. I always squinted to read your prints and posters in the catalogs we got at my parents’ house, and often cut them out to paste in my journals and sketchbooks.
    This is going to be my mantra, because I have been really freaking out about money for most of the last year, and it’s not getting any better. Ironically, this is also the most creative period I’ve had for about 5 years, so I really am on “money recess”.
    You are Mamma, in the lexicon of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

  18. Carrie~LoLaEnChAnTeD~

    Wow, I needed that post really bad!! I always forget about me, even when I’m sad or happy! Thanks for sharing that!!

  19. Beth

    As always Thank you! You remind me to unlock that special place I keep so locked away sometimes. My heart is overcome everytime I read any of your writings.

  20. audrie

    A long time ago I found a book called succulent wild woman. I was at that time learning to be a woman and living through some big challenges. That book was one of the things that helped me through the challenges I was facing. Recently I find myself in another difficult time. Last week I used a staff washroom at a school where I vounteer, and in that washroom there is one of your posters. There you were again, with your beautiful, simple wisdom. I know that nothing is an accident. You and your words have helped me through some tough times, and it looks like you’re here to help guide me again. Thank you.

  21. Lovely Leslie

    I adore you!!!!
    Here I am at 2:42AM, browsing your wonderful site. You are such a generous soul, Susan. You are a gift to the world.
    Gavin and I are moving to Vancouver, and when I focus on how wonderful it will be, and how good it feels to purge my home of all this unnecessary stuff, I feel good.
    And when I don’t focus on that, I feel overwhelmed!
    Let me remember that:
    1. Packing and moving takes as long as the time allotted
    2. I don’t have to do it perfectly
    3. There are people to help me and I can accept that help.
    There is great love here for you, Susan! And for me! And for anyone reading this! And for everyone in the world!!!!

  22. Simonn

    Keep working ,great job!

  23. KesNannasem

    Great site this and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

  24. Eoudia Erasmus

    Thanx for a fantastic you!!
    Ek is van Suid-Afrika en geniet jou boeke baie! ‘Hoop en glo daar is ander Suid-Afrikaners wat ook geinspireer word deur jou!

  25. Chelley Azul

    If I will be given a chance to be a writer, I wish to be a Sark of the Philippines. You are truly an amazing person…Your love and dedication to your works radiates like the sun that warms everyone.Hope you can visit the Philippines.

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