“Accept [the children] yourself the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because [they] you are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change; you love them as they are.” ― Isabel Allende
Unconditional love is made up of acceptance, understanding, and appreciation – with no expectation or judgment.
Unconditional love of oneself is the opposite to the endless striving of perfectionism which is based on fear of exposure as not good enough.
You may be a struggling with unconditional self-love when you:
…receive praise and downplay your achievements;
…are constantly striving to do better to the detriment of yourself or relationships;
…feel ashamed of parts of yourself and want to hide them;
…beat yourself up about a mistake you made.
Some of us believe that loving oneself – conditionally or unconditionally - is "vain", "selfish", or "self centred". However, without self-love, there is no self care. And without self care, life quickly loses its shine and joy, leaving only exhaustion and resentment for others and for oneself. Yet, as Byron Katie says, "It is not your job to like [love] me, it's mine."
According to Dr. Kirsten Neff, key to learning to love ourselves unconditionally is self-compassion. Self-compassion is only possible when we give ourselves permission to be human, like everyone else; to be kind to ourselves; and being mindful of our thoughts, letting them pass without over-identifying with them.
“Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t want to look at.” – Pema Chodron
Become Fluent in Unconditional Self-Love:
Inspired by Gary Chapman's book "The Five Languages of Love", I invite you reflect on how you are currently expressing self-love. Discover how proficient you think you are in each of Chapman’s languages and identify langues you'd like to add:
Language of Love1 - Words: What does your self talk consist mostly of? Most of us tend to be extremely harsh in ourselves, using words such as "stupid", "fat" and "ugly" quite carelessly when referring to ourselves. Some of us also tend to say "yes" when we actually mean "no". Start every day with 10 things you are grateful for about yourself to help to shift yourself out of the negative self-talk.