“You can search throughout the world for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire world, deserves your love and affection.” The Buddha

I can’t say enough about self love. The majority of the suffering we experience is from the thoughts and feelings we feed ourselves as we navigate life. We all experience types of pain—be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. But we don’t have to suffer unduly. That is a choice.

We can learn the fanciest energy tools from the teachers and books that we think are the best, but only we know, in the quiet of our hearts, how we are feeling about ourselves.

Self love is how you experience yourself. It’s not about always being nice or not having anger. It’s knowing and experiencing that you are valuable and acting accordingly. It’s your ability to embrace all that you perceive about yourself, because what isn’t loved by you imprisons you.

We imprison ourselves by being relentlessly hard on ourselves for so many things—our bodies, relationships, losing our temper, losing money, getting sick or injured.

If we are honest, we will use our spiritual tools to find the judgments and pictures that we attach our value to in our naivity. We are each learning to love ourselves back to wholeness. As St. Germaine taught, he ascended by making 1 million right decisions that came from love.

This is not the conditional love of romance novels. This is finding love and compassion for ourselves on our worst and best days; when life is smooth and when it’s rocky. Self love is living in gratitude, no matter what.

Identify and release those conditions you use to define yourself which result in suffering. Judgments about not fitting in with the right people, how we look, money and status, soul mates. And heaven help you if you eat sugar, swear, get angry, or choose to be unique in a cultural that bets it pocketbook on people’s neurotic need to conform. But a Master would rather love than look good to the world!

Loving ourselves is so important because we treat others the way we feel about ourselves. Loving ourselves pays itself forward time and time again, as we hold another in compassion rather than judgment.

This awareness is priceless when tragedy strikes, as it did recently in Aurora, Colorado. We can easily see the results of nonloving people in our world, and how everyone suffers. We live on an amazing planet, but we sadly also face the aspect that many people have so little regard for themselves that they can’t care about others. Thousands die everyday, all over the world because the preciousness of life is not valued enough to make sure everyone is fed, has water, and the opportunity to live a quality life and not die before their time or suffer unnecessarily because of lack of health care.

One manifestation of this disregard for life are people acting out the pain we inflict on one another—people who snap having lost the loving essence of themselves such that they can let another, dark aspect take over. This happens all over the planet, not only in the obvious ways of killers, terrorists and brutal, greedy leaders, but within families and communitites where hate and cruelty are also manifested. I read that one of the reasons the Nazis were able to brainwash so many people was partly due to child-raising practices, where love and kindness were withheld in order to get them to behave. The result were adults with much lower regard for others; cold-hearted and easily programmable.

The healing of the paradigms that condone blatant ignoring of the poor, sick, mentally ill, children and infants, elderly and other disenfranchised peoples of the planet begins in each one of us, in our ability to love and have compassion for ourselves. We treat others the way we feel about ourselves.

Honesty is the highest form of self love. Meditate on where you are in the moment. How are you feeling? What are you so uncomfortable with about yourself that won’t let you have more acceptance? Find a spiritual perspective. Otherwise, you are a prisoner of the pain you are harboring.

How do you treat your work mates, family and friends? Sometimes if they are treating us a certain way, being honest will reveal that we have been doing that thing to them. It’s time to heal unhealthy patterns that don’t allow us to respond from love as often as we would like to! Then, carry this love into your community, and see where you can make a difference. In these amazing, changing times that we are in, know that you will be uncomfortable and challenged. If you are not, then you have lost your emotional body, and that is not the goal here! We have seen the results of that too much in our world.You may feel sick at heart at the same time that you hold compassion and love for someone. You will not always feel at peace and neutral. It’s the way it is! As long as we have a body, we will be aware of all options, and will choose how to respond to them. Some days it’s easy to reach a peaceful place, other days it is not!

Let’s be conscious world-healing activists, seeing these shifts from a perspective that births love over separation and fear! May you feel blessed and supported on your path! ❦

Hope Hewetson is the Director of Psychic Horizons Center in Boulder, CO and originally wrote this for the August/September 2012 Newsletter.