Ponderings on the value & distinction between self esteem, self love, & unconditional love.
If you watched the above music video, (if not, I suggest you watch it, I expect you’ll like it! : ) you might relate to the quest to be comfortable in your own skin and feel beautiful, confident or even just comfortable just being you. In my perspective, these are aspects of self esteem, and they all relate to our view of ourselves as a personality in a body in a world of separate beings and how we fit in, and how we stand out as a unique individual.
I liked the message in the song TRY by Colbie Caillat: you don’t have to try so hard to be okay or be liked by others, just you liking you is more than enough. So yes it’s great to take care of yourself as a body and cultivate positive aspects of your personality. It’s great to excel in expressing your gifts and interests and feel loving toward yourself and treat yourself with tlc and encouragement as often as you can. The higher your self esteem, the more successful you feel and the better relationships you have.
You can raise your self esteem by replacing negative self talk with positive focus, doing self care like regular exercise, healthy eating and other healthy habits, meditating, spending time in nature, engaging in activities that bring you joy, journaling, practicing gratefulness and taking time to ground, replenish and renew. An often overlooked aspect of self esteem is simply letting yourself off the hook and not needing to be perfect. Just relaxing, having fun in kid-like ways and laughing, and remembering not to take yourself and life too seriously can have an instant empowering effect!
In my perspective self love means something different than most people understand it to mean. Self love to me means recognizing that you at your core, as an aspect of a larger divine energetic whole, are by your very nature Love itself. So self love in this understanding means to value yourself enough, to value your life essence and ability to focus on peace, joy, love etc, so much that you align yourself as often as you can with the frequency of love. In short self love is choosing to align your thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions with the very love you are!
When we do that consistently, we are in love with life and are radiating love from us everywhere we go! Your emotions are indicators telling you which direction you are headed in a vibrational sense in any moment, toward the frequency of love (YaY!) or away from it (Yuck!). If we all understand this concept of self love and practice it daily, the world will very rapidly become a very wonderful, joyful, loving, kind, harmonious and truly inspiring place, even more than it is already!
If I were to guess, I believe that most people think that unconditional love is something that only saints and sages and really high spiritual people can attain. But in my experience unconditional love is simply valuing your life so much that you make nothing more important than feeling good in each Now moment—feeling and appreciating the life force of Source/divine love, flowing through you, as evidenced by feeling happy or grateful, feeling joy or bliss or at least feeling peace and contentment in a steady way that is not based on conditions.
To say it more simply, when you value aligning with the frequency of love more than you value any condition that your personality may tell you that it needs in order to feel happy or love life in any given moment, you are practicing unconditional love. When I finally got this and started living it more than a decade ago, I understood everything every saint and sage and spiritual master spoke or taught about the nature of being human and the nature of love. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel contracted emotions and react from time to time, it means that when you feel that first sign of moving from YaY to Yuck that you notice it immediately, you pause, and take the time to re-align. When you know that you have the power to come from a higher perspective where you remember who you really are, your go-to in the direction away from fear toward love will become first nature. You’ll breathe, re-center, connect in the heart space, and create from there.
Leading a life of love free from reacting to conditions is simpler and more natural than most people believe! It just takes two things: first, the understanding that it is possible, and second, the practice to turn this as a philosophy into experiential wisdom. Once you have that understanding as inner knowing, there ain’t no looking back, you’ve got the key to an ever expanding and joyful life!
To be as comprehensive as I can, I should mention what unconditional love is not. Unconditional love is not tolerance or sucking it up. It’s recognizing that all humans are aspects of divinity playing in this particular dimensional time space reality—we are so much more than these bodies, we are consciousness itself! So everyone is right in their own way, and all expressions are valid.
Building on the idea of self love as described above, you simply get to the point where you love LOVE so much that you aren’t willing anymore to use or focus your life force energy in any way that makes you feel bad. You stop needing to be right. You stop arguing for your or another’s limitations. You stop pushing against the “wrongs” of the world and instead translate vibrational frequency of life force in a way where those aspects you don’t like are simply no longer a part of your reality.
By doing this you aren’t being passive or resigned, you are adding to higher consciousness solutions and realities being made manifest that are in the “win win win enough for all” octave instead of the “win lose not enough” one. So you aren’t efforting to love something, some condition that you really don’t like or agree with (or even shudder at!)— you are consciously and powerfully choosing to put your attention instead on something, within or without, that exists already at the frequency of love or above. Why? Because it is true that what you resist persists. When you judge or hate any condition it only adds to more separation and fear in collective consciousness, when at our core all of us really just want more love and belonging. It helps by recognizing that others have the right and perhaps soul intention to learn or experience reality in a different way than you and it need not in anyway affect your alignment with the Love you really are.
(And Yes! You really are the most magnificent aspect of Love, just as you are in this moment, and you are appreciated and valued beyond measure! YaY!
thank you for being YOU!)
As further food for thought, Ram Dass, who recently transitioned, left a legacy of spiritual insights that I will share with you here:
“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It’s love for no reason, love without an object.”
“You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success—none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.”
“The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in (the state of) love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”
“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act.”
“As you dissolve into love, your ego fades. You’re not thinking about loving; you’re just being love, radiating like the sun.”
And just to be clear that I’m sharing what I have found to be true for me, so take anything that resonates with you and leave what doesn’t. To end with one more quote from Ram Dass:
“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.”
Sending love! enjoy the journey! : )