There are many references to love in the Bible. A drop-down list on Bible Gateway of the various kinds of love references ‘love is patient’, ‘love your enemies’, and ‘love God’. Yet there is not a single reference to self-love.
The most extraordinary declaration of love in the Bible is in John 3:16. “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.”
(By the way, I love how Anne Wilson weaves this into her song ‘Sunday Sermons’: “Seven years old, third row pew / John 3:16, something changed in me).
If God loves us that much, surely it’s appropriate that we love ourselves?
Yet the Bible pretty much equates self-love with pride, and we all know what comes from pride. “Then, if you still refuse to obey me, I will punish you seven times for each of your sins, until your pride is completely crushed.” (Leviticus 26:18-19)
The seven deadly sins are a whole other (and very important) ballgame. Right now, let’s just notice the correlation between the Bible’s anti-self-love stance and modern society’s epidemic of low self-esteem. Not a coincidence.
Self-love is not just an important tool for anyone who wants to enter the New Earth. The process simply cannot be completed without it.
Self-love is perhaps the ultimate tool in our toolbox: the acetylene blowtorch lurking in a dark corner of our New Earth workshop.
Self-love is perhaps the ultimate tool in our toolbox: the acetylene blowtorch lurking in a dark corner of our New Earth workshop. Aim it at whatever damaged part of yourself you’re working on. Turn up the heat. Flip down the protective mask so love’s blinding flame doesn’t burn you. Whoomph.
If you’ve mastered the ability to recognize, accept and release emotional blocks then this process will be familiar to you you.
But for many it isn’t. We live in a society that’s long regarded self-love as selfish and narcissistic. There are many people—particularly on the lower rungs of the emotional cohesion ladder—who are simply incapable of self-love.
Here self-love can turn into a dangerous weapon. The more we extort ourselves to self-love when we cannot do so, the more painful it becomes. That gas-axe cuts both ways.
It can make a fragile individual feel worse because of their inability to wield it. Instead of growing emotional coherence, they feel numbness and an inner wall when they try to access self-love. Sound familiar?
Focus on the block
What this means is that something is blocking you from feeling self-love. In this case, stop struggling with self-love and focus on the blockage instead. This block resides in your unconscious and wants to stay there. It doesn’t want you to know that it even exists—but it does, as you can feel its effects.
Carl Jung wrote that our task is “to become conscious of that which presses upwards from the unconscious.” This is how we put Jung’s perceptive phrase into action: by placing our awareness on that ‘thing’ that’s numb inside us, that place where part of our wounded self hides behind a wall of unconscious shame.
The more you focus on the block, completely sure of its existence, the sooner you’ll draw it out of your unconscious and into your consciousness. Make sure that your focus is entirely neutral and non-judgmental: just the pure and simple observation that the blockage exists, nothing more. It may feel like an iceberg looming out of the Arctic mist; what starts out as a vague and fleeting feeling grows into something much greater as it anchors in your consciousness.
Here you can deal with it using some of the other tools in this toolkit: breathing, neutrality, self-responsibility. And once you’ve dealt with it, that numbness you used to feel when you tried to love yourself dissipates.
“A clanging cymbal”
Here’s a test. I’m going to take that famous passage in 1 Corinthians and turn it on its head.
“What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love myself, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved myself. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved myself.” (1 Corinthians 13)
How does that verse sit with you. Does it rest lightly? Does it make you squirm slightly? If so, self-love is the tool you need.
But don’t expect miracles. Self-love is like a muscle, and a muscle needs exercise to work efficiently. If you’ve gone your whole life without loving yourself, it may take a while to get that emotional muscle working again. Initial attempts may be discouraging. But stick at it and the rewards will be yours.
Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash