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Self-love...The Miracle of Healing

Can you remember back to the age when everything you did was good, was cute, and was right? When people encouraged you to just be yourself, loved it when you were playful, joyful, daring, determined, stubborn, and doted over the fact you certainly were your own person? Back to the age when you liked who you were and felt good about marching to your own drummer? When you just plain loved being you?

Now, can you remember when all of that changed? Didn't it seem as if over-night everything went from being right to being wrong? Suddenly, the way you acted was wrong, the way you dressed was wrong, and the way you talked was wrong. And, heaven help you if you dared to express pleasure with yourself, touted your accomplishments, and told others how good you were or how much you really loved being you. That was really wrong because other people might misinterpret such statements as being self-absorbed, arrogant, or narcissistic, or worse yet, self-centered. Unfortunately, for most of us this change in how we see ourselves and how other people see us begins around the age of three. That's when our conditioning starts teaching us how to become socially acceptable and behaviorally manageable, yet it fails to remind us of the importance of feeling good about ourselves, how to accept who we are, or teaches us how to develop and sustain a healthy self-esteem – all of which are necessary if we are to understand or experience self-love.

No wonder we live our lives desperately looking for the magical someone who will give us the love we can't seem to give ourselves. Who will save us from our loneliness, protect us from our fears, and fill the void in our heart we can't seem to fill ourselves? No wonder we experience feeling lost, or deal with abandonment issues, or have a difficult time creating relationships that will feed our deepest emotional needs. What it all nets down to is how can someone else love us if we don't know how to love ourselves?

Self-Love: A Spiritual Metamorphosis

Self-love is different than the love we feel for others because its focus isn't on what we can give to others, but on what we can give to ourselves. The nature of self-love is to form an intimate heartfelt connection with our inner self, so we can touch and bring to expression our true essence – our soul. After all, it's through this connection we find meaning and purpose in life and discover who we really are. Self-love is transformational, inspirational, spiritual, healing, and empowering as it morphs the false perceptions we may have of ourselves and removes the limitations that block what we're capable of achieving. When a person practices self-love, they open their heart so they can experience the love they crave and yearn for, and open the doorways of their mind so they can catch a glimpse of the beauty, the strength, the grace, and the wisdom they hold inside. The energy of self-love serves as a catalyst for change and motivates us to move forward on our path of self-discovery. It makes it possible for us to create the life, the love, the relationships, and the health we desire. And, it shows us the things that are preventing us from bringing expression to our inner potential.

Self-love embodies the qualities of self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-forgiveness, and drives the need for self-knowledge and self-improvement. It forms the foundation upon which self-confidence is built and gives us the courage to step beyond our limiting self-perceptions. Self-love turns our focus inward so we can find our own answers and become keen observers of our own behavior. By looking inward for our answers, we're no longer influenced by others' thoughts and perceptions, and by observing our behavior we're able to see when we're engaging in behavior that's self-sabotaging and self-defeating. Self-love reveals the emotional traps created by our conditioning – traps that cause us to act as victims; to seek approval, and to suppress our uniqueness and individuality even as adults. It lets us know when we're doing things for other people's reasons and not our own, and when we are making decisions to please others rather than making them to please ourselves. Self-love gives us the strength to face our fears and asks that we take responsibility for how we act and what we say. It changes our perception of life and our role in it, meaning instead of seeing life as controlling us, we see ourselves as controlling life.

Self-love and Good Health Go Hand-in-Hand

A growing body of scientific evidence in the field of behavioral medicine indicates the level of self-love a person feels appears to be a critical factor in determining the state of health of the body and its ability to heal. This evidence shows whether people do or don't get sick – and how long they stay that way is largely influenced by the self-love factor. It seems that the greater the self-love, the healthier the body and the quicker the recovery time, especially when dealing with illnesses chronic in nature – illnesses such as chronic fatigue, post-traumatic stress syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes, heart-disease, asthma, and autoimmune disorders. It's revealing that self-love is so powerful an influence over how we react to life, how we manage stress, and how we cope with adverse situations it can actually affect our health and overall well-being.

What we are learning is that something deep inside our cells responds positively to self-love and triggers a biochemical chain reaction that changes the way the mind and body communicate with each other, thus aiding and accelerating the healing process. We are learning this positive biochemical cellular dialogue tells the mind that all is well, thus triggering the release of healing endorphins and neurotransmitters which calm the body and dissipate the stress hormones, specifically cortisol, which is believed to be a major contributor to the weakening of the immune system. A study conducted at Harvard Medical School reinforced what we are learning about the mind/body connection when it found people who displayed a strong sense of self, who accepted themselves, and who avoided becoming self-critical and judgmental, not only had a more positive outlook on life, they had stronger natural killer-cell activity in their blood. This stronger cell activity is responsible for boosting the immune system and for providing a greater immunity against illness. They also discovered when a person believed in him or herself, they were able to heal more quickly physically and psychologically because they were less inclined to wait for someone else to make them well, and rather than taking a passive position in dealing with their illness, they used it as a motivator to take control of their life. Their research, too showed how self-love is the most powerful weapon we have in protecting our health and ensuring a longer life.

The Healing Power of Self-Love

As a medical intuitive, and having been involved in the fields of intuitive and behavioral medicine for more than twenty-five years, I too have come to understand the importance of self-love and have witnessed its healing power. I have had the joy of seeing the miracles it creates, and watching a person overcome the adversities that would cause most people to give up hope. Alice is such a person.

Alice had just been diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer and had been given one to three months to live. However, unlike other people who came to see me, she didn't want to talk about the cancer or learn its psychological roots, all she wanted to know what she needed to do in order to make peace with herself before she transitioned. As we talked, it quickly became evident that Alice not only didn't love who she was, she was disappointed with herself for not doing anything that gave her a sense of purpose. She told me she felt as if she had wasted her life. My job was to help her change those perceptions. I began by asking her to share anything she felt good about, no matter how insignificant she might think it was. Her immediate response was, there was nothing. I asked my question again, and suggested there must be something, after all she was 60 years old. Again, her response was nothing. I asked her if she had children. She said yes. I asked if she felt she was a good mother. Her answer was not really, at least not by her mother's or mother-in-law's criteria. What about her criteria?, I asked. Well, yes she thought she was because her children turned out to be good kids, and were always telling her how much they appreciated what she had taught them. I thought, now we're getting somewhere. Upon hearing her say something positive about herself, I reached into the drawer of my desk and pulled out a gold star and placed it next to her name. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that every time she said something positive I was going to put a gold star next to her name. She then shared how much those gold stars in school meant to her and how they were the highlight of a childhood filled with abuse. I gave her another gold star. When the session was over I suggested she stop by a school supply store and buy herself a box of gold stars and every time she thought of something good about herself, or of something she liked about herself, she give herself one. She said she thought it was a silly idea, however agreed to do it. After all what did she have to lose?

Well, a few days passed since our session, when I received a call from her. Her voice was different. She didn't sound defeated or ambivalent. Instead, I heard a bubbly, perky voice on the other end of the phone – a voice that said, “Hi Carol. I wanted to let you know I'm on my third box of gold stars and I've never felt better in my whole life.”

Add Some (More) Self-love in Your Life

  • Keep an “I Love Me Journal” – Before retiring at night, write down your observations of the day. Was it a good day or a bad day? What caused you to classify it either way? Next list all of the things you did that made you feel good about yourself. Then write down the things that happened that made you feel bad about yourself. By listing both, you have the opportunity to observe your experiences and your behavior. This helps you see what's working and what's not working, and identify what needs to be changed.
  • Focus on the Positive and Let Go of the Negative – Instead of always focusing on what you're not good at, try focusing on what you are good at. Instead of focusing on your physical flaws such as weight or being too short or too tall, focus on your positive features such as your smile, your hair, or your eyes. If this seems difficult, fake it till you make it.
  • Play More, Think Less – I think thinking too much can be hazardous to our health. Why? Because it keeps us too serious and stops us from having fun and enjoying life. Thinking about things creates worry and doubt, and causes us to be continually looking over our shoulder wondering when the next problem will sneak up and get us. Play connects us with our inner self. It relaxes us and unleashes our creativity. It's in our playful times we remember what life is really all about, and when we get the answers to those repetitive problems.
  • Spend More Time with Nature – Nature is a wonderful example of unconditional acceptance. Its elements never seek to be anything other than what they are. Yet, each element is the best at whatever it is. When was the last time you saw a cat trying to be a dog? Have you ever marveled at how a tree growing in the most adverse conditions still strives to be beautiful? Why is it as humans we are always trying to be something other than who we really are? And, why can't we see our own beauty?

What do you get when you love yourself? You get a world you care about, and a world that will join with you in that celebration.