When you’re emotionally and physically sick, giving yourself unconditional self-love can be a enormous challenge. This is the story of one woman’s journey to healing…
I began to paint healing art 20 years ago after the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome.
At that point I didn’t love myself. I thought that I did before I got sick, but when my health collapsed, I realized that I had no idea what true self-love was.
So I started painting as a way to lift my spirit.
In order to do this, I first had to look at my life and see where my spirit needed lifting. That meant that I had to look at my pain and identify its origins.
Sometimes it’s not the problems in life that cause us to suffer the most but the way we perceive them…
When we change our perspective, much of our suffering can diminish.
So I would look at one problem in my life at a time, and then I would search my spiritual studies for advice, and that advice is what I would paint.
I continued with this process for years, and then one day I made a life-changing discovery.
I was drawing the image of a woman with words of encouragement around her and then realized that these words were messages of self-love! And that ALL of my paintings were messages of self-love!
I couldn’t see this before because I was focused on only one problem and painting at a time. But now I could see that each painting was a reflection of my journey in search of self-love.
Even more amazing was that I could see that my creative process was teaching me HOW to love myself by providing a SETTING and REASON to…
- Slow down
- Look inward
- Ask myself questions
- Listen for answers
- Seek new solutions
- Be kind and patient with myself
- Trust my instincts
- Encourage myself
- Embrace my sensitivity
- Forgive my mistakes
- Quiet my inner critic
- Give myself a voice
Now that I could understand what self-love was, at least within the boundaries of creating art, I felt motivated to do a personal study on self-love so that it could spread to all areas of my life.
This is what I learned.
When I first got sick, I became physically weak, which caused me to lose my job, friends, and quit school. In return, my ego judged me as a failure because I could no longer do the things I use to do.
I realized that my life had to look a certain way before my ego would allow me to love myself and therefore I could see that it was a conditional love.
There are TWO kinds of self-love…
As I explored my thoughts about self-love, and with the influence of Wayne Dyer’s book entitled Sacred Self, I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of self-love.
There is ego-based self-love and there is spirit-based self-love. The former cares about what the ego cares about—appearances, power, and survival. The latter cares about what the spirit cares about—healing, wholeness, and compassion.
Now I could see that the reason why my self-love collapsed was that it came from my ego rather than my spirit. And this gave me the freedom to choose a different kind of self-love.
Before I found authentic self-love, I thought self-love was about pampering myself.
For example: buying a new outfit, getting a manicure, or going on vacation. Pampering is not a bad thing if we can afford it, but it does become self-sabotage if we can’t.
Pampering is more about distracting ourselves from our problems rather than dealing with our problems in order to solve or manage them.
Real self-love is not about anything you can buy.
Real self-love is about healing, helping, supporting, and empowering ourselves. It’s about examining what we believe about life and ourselves, and then challenging those beliefs to see if they are truly beneficial to our health and happiness.
The goal of unconditional self-love is to live our best life with a sense of wholeness, health, peace, and empowerment.
This empowerment enables us to improve our lives and to make the world a better place.
For me, my biggest obstacle to self-love was just not knowing what it was. Now that I know what it is, I can realign myself with unconditional self-love just by catching myself and realizing that I have strayed away from its path.
Now I know that true self-love is about the relationship that we have with ourselves.
It’s about paying attention to what we need in all areas of our lives instead of ignoring, avoiding, or neglecting those needs. And it’s about speaking to ourselves, treating ourselves, and seeing ourselves with kindness, trust, forgiveness, fairness, and encouragement.