Self-Love: Freedom From Shame, Blame, and Guilt
By: Kathy Best, October 4, 2018
To create a strong foundation of self-love in our lives we need to start by letting go of the illusion of love, or conditional love we practice with each other on a daily basis. This conditional love stems from our ego mind in which fear and lack are its reality and the only way to placate that sense of fear and lack is to get everything the ego thinks will make it happy. For instance, in new relationships we each put more effort and energy into doing and being what the other person seems to want and while this is reciprocated our ego feels on top of the world. We think, “This person really loves me. They do all of the things I want to do and buy me all of the stuff I want and pay attention to me, so I must be very important to them and the center of their world! I finally have the love and respect I crave and I am so happy and so blessed!” This feeling can last days, weeks, or months, but eventually one or both people in the relationship decide that they don’t want to put so much effort into it, or they feel like their own needs are not getting met, or they discover character traits that they don’t like or they begin to pick the other person apart. This leads to frustration, blame, resentment, anger, and disappointment. What our ego is doing is actually setting us up for disappointment and heartbreak. It does not know how to truly love because it is a creation of our mind used to protect us from our fears, real and imagined.
The ego’s form of love is always filled with conditions and it is always an illusion that cannot be maintained. The ego creates conditions for everything in life. It is all about blaming and shaming others and when that doesn’t work it resorts to blaming and shaming the self it has been working so hard to protect. “If I could just have that then I would be happy. If only I was that then I would feel safe and secure. If only they did this then I would feel loved. If only they would stop that then I wouldn’t get upset.” On and on the list goes. The ego has an unlimited capacity to create illusions of love, but they are all based on manipulation and control. Unfortunately that sets us up for failure every time. The ego has no interest in or even the capacity for unconditional love. You see it believes that if there is total acceptance, no assumptions, no expectations, no demands and no desire to get something from someone else then what good is it? The ego wants only what’s in it for them and it wants to be the rule maker and the ruler of every relationship, including family relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships and even relationships with ourselves and a higher power.
It’s not your fault. You were conditioned to believe that love is conditional just as your parents were conditioned and their parents and so forth and so on. “If you don’t do as I say I will withhold my love from you. If you don’t get good grades I will punish you. If you don’t do your chores or come in late I will withhold my love from you and punish you. If you don’t behave the way I think you should behave I will impose my will and my wrath on you.”
Even most of our religious doctrines espouse limitations when it comes to the Creator’s love. You must obey the rules and laws presented thousands of years ago to a childlike humanity that may or may not have interpreted those rules and laws accurately before they delivered them to the masses. You must accept a savior if you are to be reunited with your creator upon your death. You must repent all of your sins and beg forgiveness regularly or sometime before you die to be accepted to the place of your eternal rest. You must reject or at least judge others that do not agree with your form of worship as unworthy and unable to be saved or accepted. You must try to convert others that do not follow your beliefs so that they can see the light and dwell with the Holy Spirit. You must pray several times a day at specific times and specific places to be considered a devotee and worthy of love and respect. You must only fall in love with and marry people of the opposite sex who belong to your religious sect. The rules and lists for acceptance and love go on and on.
How can we be expected to understand, let alone show unconditional love when we have never experienced it ourselves? It starts with ourselves. First we need to understand that the only real enemy we face is with our mind. It is our thoughts that create our reality. You know the old saying, “seeing is believing” well we need to take that one step back and understand that “thinking is creating.” Our ego spends it days trying to convince our mind that the cause of everything that happens to us is outside of us. To make it even more believable and acceptable the ego uses projection. When someone says something or does something to us that brings up uncomfortable feelings or reminds us of a childhood trauma or event, the ego chooses to experience it as an attack thereby proving that the reality is outside of us and has nothing to do with the hidden thoughts and beliefs in our own mind. In reality, the feelings of being attacked are stemming from our own inner conflict about our self-worth and lack of self-love.
This is how the ego uses the mind to project your own pain and suffering onto someone else’s behavior. You mind is like a camcorder that records and stores all of your past experiences in your memory banks. When something in our present time pushes a certain button with us, one or several of those old movies starts playing, only now we are projecting them on to the current experience and whomever pushed the play button in us. Even though the people in our present are different than the ones in our past our ego projects the original experience on top of the new one filtered through the ego lens of unresolved conflict, shame, blame, and guilt.
Think about how two people having a similar experience can have two completely different responses. Someone is angry and shouting at you and one person sees a fearful adult desperately calling out for love and help. Another person in that same experience sees a hateful, selfish person who is impossible to get along with or care about. As we think, so do we see the world. Angry, unkind, unloving thoughts project and angry, hateful, unloving world experience with hostile, hurtful relationships. Loving, compassionate, peaceful thoughts create a compassionate, peaceful, loving experience of the world and harmonious, fulfilling relationships. This does not mean that you condone or accept cruel behavior or physical abuse. It means that you love yourself enough to recognize that you do not deserve to be mistreated and you do not stay in situations where you are mistreated, but you also recognize that the abuser may not even truly realize they are projecting their own wounds of the past on to you and you can remove yourself from the experience with love and compassion in your heart instead of anger, judgement, and resentment.
We can retrain our minds to have loving, peaceful, compassionate thoughts. It is something we can choose in each new moment. Every day is another opportunity to think love, see love, feel love, and be love. Many people find this too difficult or undesirable because the ego does not want you to accept responsibility or take control of you experiences. It does not want you to recognize that you are so much more than your physical body and we are all connected to each other by a higher consciousness that when accessed and developed takes control away from the ego and transforms our daily experiences into ones of ease, clarity, joy, grace, satisfaction, and unconditional love.
To do this we have to accept that our world is actually a projection of our thoughts and beliefs. Whenever you are felling anxiety, anger, doubt, worry, frustration, resentment, or depression it is because you are letting your ego run old movies in your mind. The first thing you must do is become aware of the thoughts you are thinking and agree that you are willing to change your thoughts. This can be as easy or as difficult as you decide to make it. Once you stop finding value in the thoughts and beliefs that create conflict and pain it becomes fun to recognize that your ego is playing tricks on you and you can make a game of finding loving, happy, peaceful thoughts to replace the negative, destructive ones.
Negative, destructive thoughts are all based on judgement or condemnation of yourself or others. Forgiveness is the key to dissolving the misconceptions and distorted beliefs we hold onto about ourselves and others. The root cause of all of our relationship problems is our inability to forgive ourselves and others. Forgiveness is like a fountain of youth that can return us to the loving state we were born with and erase the lines and wrinkles of anger and sadness that mar our reflections. Again, please understand that forgiveness is not about condoning or accepting abuse, it is about releasing yourself from the bondage of suffering and taking back your power and control of your thoughts and emotions. The only ways someone else can continue to hurt you is if you allow it. So shed all of those old war movies that continue to replay in your mind and create some new love stories to turn your life from a nightmare to a fairy tale.