“Leave the world a better place…” It’s a sentiment often expressed in beloved quotes by poets, novelists, musicians and philosophers.
For me, it first brings to mind global challenges. How can I stop world hunger? What organization can I build to prevent sex trafficking? My thoughts progress to my sphere of influence. How can I teach my students and my own child to protect themselves from the evil in this world? I think personal. What am I doing to become the leader I want to be? I’m training, I’m educating, I’m learning. My inner voice prods me to dig deeper, to ask the real question. Am I loving myself? Then it hits me. The power that fuels my response to all of these challenges is love. Leaving the world a better place begins with loving oneself.
As we strive to be all things to all people, we often put ourselves last and we forget how to show ourselves love. To get back to a place of self-love, try these simple actions:
- Listen within to your own feelings.
- Be compassionate with your feelings.
- Keep an open mind to learn what your feelings are telling you.
Then you can look outward and create a solid connection with a source of love, wisdom and comfort. When you open your heart and act from a place of love, more love flows in. Choose to be around loving people and take loving actions for yourself around others.
- Take care of your body, your time, your space, and your finances. When you ignore your health, you are giving yourself the message that you are not worth loving. You will feel loved and lovable when you feed yourself healthy food and get exercise and sleep.
- If you are always late and disorganized, you are giving yourself the message that you are not worth taking care of. When you respect your own and others’ time and space, you are letting yourself know that you are worth it.
- When you are around someone who is being unkind, speak up for yourself, letting the person know that you don’t like being treated that way, and then either open your heart to learn where the other person is coming from, or lovingly disengage from the interaction. Allowing others to treat you badly sends a message to your subconscious that you are not worth loving.
A great way practice self-love is thru Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation. It is a method of developing compassion for yourself and others. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. The loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love.
Always begin with yourself. Calm your mind/heart and find your one point or the center of your being. Generate gentle, loving feelings for yourself:
May I be safe from harm.
May I be happy just as I am.
May I be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I care for myself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.
From yourself, move out spaciously into your immediate surroundings.
Stay within your reach. As you feel your immediate surround fill with the power of loving kindness, move on, expanding the surround in concentric circles until you envelop the entire planet.
Expand your loving kindness until you are able to visualize Earth, spinning within the vast, mysterious universe. If you like, continue expanding the sense of your loving kindness, filling the endless emptiness of the universe.
May all living beings everywhere, on all planes of existence, known and unknown, be happy, be peaceful, be free.” — Jack Kornfield
When you feel love from within, you can create balance in your life by finding work that you love or by spending your free time doing the things that matter to you, that give your life purpose and joy. Taking responsibility for loving yourself fills your heart with love, which you can then share with others. Send love through the air and make this world a better place.