Self-love requires self-awareness of one’s humanistic needs, experiences, traits, thoughts, behaviors, beliefs and desires and having the ability to change, release, modify or compassionately accept and heal what defies self-love.
If we are working towards self-love, but find it challenging to stay in that mindset, then chances are there are aspects of the whole self that are below our awareness that feel unlovable. These aspects were developed during young childhood. They are the parts of us that we had to suppress because when we expressed them we felt a denunciation, denial, disappointment, dissatisfaction or displeasure by someone we looked to for validation of who we are.
This caused us to believe that these expressed parts of us are inherent flaws and must be concealed to prevent further rejection from the world. These hidden parts of us are known as our shadow aspects. They are the parts of us that we deny, disown and disclaim as parts of the whole self.
These shadow aspects feel unworthy of love. They feel fragmented, separated and disconnected from the whole self. They feel alone, frightened and hurt. Since we are not aware that these parts exist within us, we don’t realize that we are, in part, rejecting self-love.
For us to fill the void within us created by this fragmentation of the whole self, we created a false self, also known as the ego self. The false self serves to exhibit a persona that is acceptable to the world and to allow for the hidden parts of the whole self to be replaced by an identity that camouflages the rejected parts of the whole self. Someone who is obsessed with building muscle tone, may have a self-rejected part of them that feels weak and worthless. The perpetual student may have a self-rejected part of them that feels stupid and insecure. The woman that must always feel beautiful before leaving the house may have a self-rejected part that feels ugly and unwanted. These false identities are harshly judged by society because of the obsessive behaviors they exhibit.
The false self also serves to protect the wounded self from further injury. If, during our developmental years, we reached out for parental affection and felt rejected by the parent, we may hide our need for affection because we believe wanting affection is not acceptable. When someone offers us affection, we may find ways to reject the offer due to a belief that we are undeserving of it. As a result of this deep-seeded fear of rejection, we created the false self that is extremely unemotional and unaffectionate towards others. This would cause others to see us as cold, distant and maybe even self-centered. What is not known by either ourselves or society is that we are not living life as our authentic selves.
The shadow aspect is our true and unique, but emotionally undeveloped self. The false self is the facade created to disguise the parts we repressed. Although we may get frustrated with the false self, we may not be aware that this is not who we really are. It is an ego protection to keep us from displaying what we believe are our humanistic defects.
We may believe we are loving the whole self, but we are loving only what the ego believes is acceptable to the world, while we hide authentic, innocent parts of who we are. The biggest obstacles to self-love are the unhealed parts within us.
When we are in self-rejection, we cannot be in self-love. We believe we are loving ourselves, but we are only loving the parts of us that we believe others can love. This is not authentic self-love and serves to deny us our God-given wholeness. Self-love is loving all parts of us even if these parts of us have been rejected by others or we innocently perceived their rejection. The question is, how do we reconnect with these hidden parts of us and remedy the disintegration? How do we dig deep into the shadow aspects of ourselves so we can heal and reintegrate these lost parts of ourselves? The only answer is shadow work.
Shadow work requires looking at the parts of ourselves that we unconsciously believe are unlovable and help these parts heal their pain and return back to the whole self. This will take strength and courage because we are breaking down the false self, which may be strongly protected by the ego. Doing shadow work will allow us to live authentically as we did as children, but with the structure, balance and resilience that comes from experience and wisdom in our later years.
If we want to fully step into the power of self-love, we must be willing to release the false self and trust that our authentic self is worthy of the world no matter how judgmental the world can be. The false self gives us a sense of security and belonging. If we heal and reintegrate into the whole self our shadow aspects, we will not worry about what the world thinks of us because we will already know who we are. We will be able to accept our individuality and distinctiveness. Although life may have knocked us down many times, we know from the depths of our souls that we are worthy of love. This may require us to forgive ourselves for fearing the loss of love that we unquestionably deserve and forgive others for not being in alignment with love when we needed them to show us love. We are all on a journey to discover ourselves. Some of us may need more time to find our wholeness, especially if our childhood experiences caused confusion about who we are.
Shadow work means going deep within ourselves and making a connection with the parts of us that have been suppressed out of fear. Since these parts of us have been suppressed for so long, shadow work is best done with a qualified facilitator. There may be some protector parts of the whole self that won’t allow access to the shadow aspects as a way to keep these shadow aspects safe from further harm. A qualified facilitator can help us work through these restraints and guide us through the healing process.
Shadow work is necessary for the healing of our disowned and rejected parts so we can accept them as parts of who we are. Once we allow for healing of these shadow aspects of ourselves, these parts of us will ascend to the level of consciousness within our wise adult self. This will give us a feeling of wholeness, balance and peace since we will no longer be unconsciously fighting against ourselves. This is living in authenticity. This is what self-love is.
If you would like to do some shadow work on your own, you can listen to the Ascension Meditation on my YouTube channel for guidance. This is a meditation that assists you in reaching for those lost parts of yourself with the love and compassion of the wise spirit within you. Listen to the meditation as much as you need to in order to break through the barriers of resistance to what you shoved deep down within you when you couldn’t cope with the rejection.
May you continue your journey from a place of true self-love, knowing that it is your divine right to live your life in authenticity and no one can take that right away from you.
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