Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend352
Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend352
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Madly in Love with Me
The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend
By Christine Arylo
New World LibraryCopyright © 2012 Christine Arylo
All rights reserved.
Recently, I was asked to speak at a college conference of sorority girls — the leaders of our future world and the mothers of our future children. From my place up on stage, I could see all of their young, hopeful faces waiting for me to share my secrets on how to be a successful woman in today's world. There was no doubt that these girls were excited to be at this conference, to learn, to continue to excel and work toward their goals. So when I asked for each to turn to her neighbor and say, "I would really like to have tremendous self-esteem!" it was no surprise that every young woman in that room excitedly turned and pronounced her commitment to believing in herself. When I asked these young women to raise their hands to indicate if their proclamations of self-esteem felt good, every hand in the audience went up as if to say, "Of course, I want self-esteem; self-esteem is good." This was a great sign! The message that holding yourself in high regard is something to cultivate had seeped into their consciousness to such a degree that, without apology, they were able to publicly claim their right to high self-esteem.
The next question, however, elicited a much different response. I turned to these future leaders and mothers and posed this question: "How many of you would now turn and say to your friend, 'I would like to love myself'?" Silence. Then squirms. A few giggles pierced the air, but not one hand went up — except for mine and that of my friend in the front row, another author, speaker, teacher, and woman on her own self-love journey. Instead, the girls moved uncomfortably in their seats, dumbfounded at the notion of publicly making such an audacious statement. Embarrassed to say the word love in a way that pointed their feelings of love toward themselves rather than toward another, these young women just sat in their seats staring at me. They had no idea how to respond, so they waited to see what I would do and say next.
In an inspired moment, I dropped down to my knees (wearing a dress and heels, mind you) and exclaimed,
Now I invite you to imagine that I am the child you will have someday. I am your little girl between the age of five and seven. And I come to you and I say, "Mommy, is loving myself a good thing? Should I love myself? Be my own best friend?" What would you say? Would you say, "No, honey, that's selfish. No, child, have self-esteem but not self-love. Self-love is selfish, or something you only do in private"? Of course not! You would never say that to your child. Why? Because you have no doubt in your mind that you want your child to love himself or herself.
Instinctively, you know that loving yourself is crucial to a happy life, and you want your child to be happy. Your instincts are clear — self-love is good. You would say to her, "Yes, child, be your own best friend! Love yourself and treat yourself well. Be proud of who you are; share her with the world. Honor and respect yourself without apology, because if you don't, how can you expect anyone else to? Go for your dreams, regardless of what anyone else says. Take care of yourself, because if you don't, you won't be able to care for anyone else."
"So, all of you beautiful, powerful, intelligent young women," I said to those students that day — and I say this to you too — "if these instructions are so obviously appropriate for a child, then why don't they also apply to you?"
Since leaving my corporate job to teach, speak, and write full-time about self-love, love, and the true power of the feminine, I have talked with thousands of women and have received some of the wildest comments when I voice the term self-love. One moment, as we talk about selfesteem, their heads are nodding, their faces are smiling, and all is good. But as soon as I mention self-love, heads quirk to the side, defensive walls go up, and comments like these come out of their mouths:
"Loving myself? I don't have time for that."
"Oh, sure, I love myself. I went to the spa last month."
"I think that self-love stuff is all pretty hippie-dippy!"
Then there's the take-my-breath-away, shocker-every-time-I-hear-it line: "Self-love? Do you mean masturbation?" (And they don't mean it in a good way.)
My heart gets so sad at how quickly people link something so sacred, so essential to our basic happiness — love — to behaviors and traits that are frowned upon, hidden, and often a source of shame in our society when the word self is added to it. You don't see people walking around proclaiming, "I don't have time for love" or "Love is only for hippies." No, while we may not always be good at loving others, we all know and believe that loving others is a good thing. So why would love, when directed at yourself, be any different? We consider it acceptable, even admirable, to express love by giving to others our energy, time, resources, compassion, and more with little thought for ourselves, and by saying words like "I love you," "I appreciate you," and "I respect you" to friends, family members, and lovers. But saying, "I love myself" out loud? Better keep that under wraps! Or giving to yourself first? Why, that's selfish! And yet, it's the same energy — love — simply pointed in a different direction.
At first I thought the self-love taboo affected only people who had never been introduced to the concept of loving themselves. Just like the college girls in the room that day, I too, at the age of twenty, hadn't yet received the Self-Love Handbook. But when I observed that the women and men who came to the workshops I held at spiritual centers, which are like self-love safe havens, were just as resistant to publicly claiming their love of self, I was floored. One Sunday I asked a group of spiritual seekers I was speaking with, "Who here would stand outside after next Sunday's service with a flag that on one side says, 'I am madly in love with ME,' and on the other side says, 'Love yourself; you deserve it!'?" Surely there would be at least a few bold souls willing to be beacons of love. Yet again, not one person raised a hand, except for the person I had brought with me to the workshop, my soul partner, Noah. Okay, yes, I had upped the ante by asking for a public display of self-love, but these people were used to hearing about self-love and were part of a community that supported love in all forms. Surely they would have no fear about proclaiming their selflove in public. But they did.
What the heck was going on? What was causing the fear surrounding self-love? What I discovered was shocking.
I looked up the definition of self-love on Dictionary.com. I've learned over time that the definition of a word can tell you a lot about the current beliefs our society, institutions, and familial tribes — and, therefore, we — deem acceptable, valuable, and either right or wrong. Definitions — because they reflect mainstream thought — influence and inform the ideas and beliefs that run through our subconscious minds and, subsequently, affect our actions and thoughts. And because many of us may be unaware of the meanings of specific words (honestly, how often do you look up words you hear every day?), we often have no clue that we are being influenced by outside forces that may not even align with what we believe to be true in our hearts but that nonetheless affect our actions. Moreover, the definition we give a word today may not even be the original meaning of the word. Words seem to change over time, without explanation. This is the power of words, and once I realized this, I started looking up definitions and the history of words a lot more!
I'm not sure what I expected as I typed the word self-love into the white search box on Dictionary.com — maybe something simple about self-love promoting happiness and well-being. What appeared on my screen, however, was quite different. My mouth dropped open; my eyes could not believe what I was reading. Self-love was defined as "conceit," "vanity," and "narcissism."
What? My eyes scrolled the page again and again. I had to make sure I wasn't just seeing things. And then, as if a lightbulb went on in my mind, everything began to click. Now I understood the wacky responses and lack of raised hands. By definition, self-love, in mainstream society, is considered taboo, scary, and maybe even a little dirty. Which, of course, makes public displays of self-love feel wrong and risky, something to be avoided. Who wants to be called a narcissist, after all?
Merriam-Webster.com was not much better. While it defines self-love as "love of self" (which essentially is just the word self-love in a reverse order), the first full definition given is "conceit," which it goes on to define as an individual opinion, especially excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue, a fancy item, or a trifle. I think it is not a stretch to say that you, and no one you know, wants to be called conceited or excessive. And since when is love a trifle or an opinion instead of a sacred, beautiful, essential act?
What I wanted to know next was who the heck writes these erroneous definitions. Is there some person or council in some city sitting at a desk deciding on a whim what self-love means today? If so, they should be fired for bastardizing such a sacred word and then fired for poisoning our minds. When the word self is placed in front of the indisputably beautiful and good word love, this should not change the beauty and the goodness, only the direction in which it flows.
Maybe you're thinking right now, "Of course I know that self-love isn't all those awful things." And yes, at some level you do know that loving yourself is a good thing, or you wouldn't be reading this book. And yet, you know there are still places in your life where you don't let your self-love flag fly free, where you don't show up as your own best friend or make sure you get what you really need to be happy, healthy, and wellloved. One big reason for this is that you have been influenced, whether you know it or not, by the collective thoughts of a society that says loving others is good, and loving yourself is selfish, vain, narcissistic, and something you may do only in private.
Think about it this way. If you saw a woman loving her child in public, what would you think? That she's a good woman doing a good thing, right? If you witnessed a woman spending her time and energy nurturing others, what would you believe? Good woman doing a good thing. If you heard a woman expressing how much she loves her parents, friends, or partner, what would you say to yourself? Good woman doing a good thing. She is a loving person.
Now let's say that same woman turns the love around and directs it at herself instead of others. Imagine her saying something like "I really love myself." What would you think? Be honest. That she's conceited? Audacious? Full of herself? What if this woman told you she'd made a decision to take care of herself before giving to someone else? Would you think of her as selfish? Narcissistic? You probably wouldn't be thinking, "There goes a good woman doing a good thing; she is a loving person," because your belief system has programmed you to think that openly and fully loving yourself is not acceptable, that taking care of yourself first is selfish.
You live in a society that has made it more comfortable to read a book about the ten ways to get a guy or girl to fall in love with you, or to obsess about your romantic love life, than to share your self-love journey with your friends and family. You're bombarded with images and media, like reality TV shows, whose underlying message tells you it's normal to look to outside sources for confirmation that you are good enough, rather than to unapologetically stand for self-respect and self-worth.
Given the cultural climate, it's no wonder we have such a hard time loving ourselves. I have no doubt that every person at the spiritual center that day believed loving oneself is a fabulous idea. Fear of being seen as selfish, conceited, or vain prohibited them from freely expressing what they had come to receive: self-love. If not for the collective belief that self-love is selfish, the recognition that "self-love lets you love others more not less" would have prevailed. Fear wouldn't have stopped them from expressing the most powerful force in the world — love — even when that love is directed inward.
The rest of this book is dedicated to showing you how to give love to and express love for yourself, always — how to choose love for yourself in all its forms, again and again, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly for the rest of your life. Choosing self-love is like taking a powerful stand for yourself and saying no! to accepting the energy of hate, abuse, neglect, shame, fear, and guilt, whether that energy comes from yourself or from anyone else. And it's saying yes! to receiving and giving love in its many forms — to receiving love from and giving love to yourself first and, as a result, sharing the overflow of love with those around you.
If you complete the journey this book can take you on, then not only will you be able to say, "I love you!" to yourself out loud without shying away, but also, most important, you will be able to make big life decisions and everyday choices that are congruent with, and aligned with, love. That is, you will act like a woman who truly does love herself. It's one thing to say, "I love you," but to act on that love is the true test, and it's where the true power lies. Note that choosing is an active verb. To choose requires you to make a choice to give love to yourself, to express love, or to receive love.
The more you act from self-love, the greater will be your ability to feel love for yourself no matter what is going on in your relationships, the outside world, or your external circumstances. You will become empowered to draw love from within yourself, rather than have to look for it in someone or something else. You will become masterful at filling your mind with loving thoughts, even when self-doubt, fear, and self-criticism are knocking on your mind's door. And as a result, you will find it easy and natural to act with love and kindness toward yourself.
You see, in addition to being one of the best ideas in the world, loving yourself, and making sure that you have the love, care, happiness, joy, and peace you desire, is a necessity. You need love in order to survive and thrive. And while there are many ways to get this love from outside ourselves, it's when we remember how to get it from inside that we come to know the deep levels of love that our heart and soul crave.
The good news is that you already know how to love yourself; you've just forgotten. You were actually born in love with yourself; it's your natural state. Think back to yourself as a little girl, to a moment when you remember being carefree and open to the wonder of the world, a moment when your light was superbright, before anyone told you to dim it down. Even if you can't remember a specific time when you felt this way, this part of you that could fully and freely be, love, and live you still exists.
Close your eyes for a moment, put your hand on your heart, and just see if you can feel this younger self, maybe even see her, sense her. Maybe you can recall a time when you were doing something you loved as a little girl — playing, creating, laughing. Maybe a time when she was all alone, with no one but her "magical" friends (whether imaginary friends, stuffed animals, or a favorite doll). This is the part of you that knows how to love yourself easily and without care for what others may think. As we go through our magical, fantastical journey together, we want to connect with that part of you as much as possible, because she is going to be a huge ally. She will give you permission to be madly in love ... with yourself.
If you'd like some assistance in connecting with your little-girl self, I've recorded a meditation for you called "Come Play with ME!" It's a visualization that will reconnect you powerfully and sweetly to your inner little girl. Sometimes our little-girl selves are easy to access, and sometimes they like to stay hidden. Whichever is the case for you, know that it's okay; you can rest assured that she is going to come out to play, to be loved and adored, on this adventure. You can download this visualization at www.SelfLoveMeditations.com.
You should know that self-love, while yummy, fulfilling, and healing, is by nature a daring adventure, one designed not to make you comfortable but instead to bring you more love, which is often uncomfortable. We do what works, regardless of what you may look like in the process or what other people might think. In fact, the farther out of your comfort zone you move, the more likely you are to bust through the blocks standing between you and your ability to love yourself well, unconditionally, and forever.
Excerpted from Madly in Love with Me by Christine Arylo. Copyright © 2012 Christine Arylo. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsINTRODUCTION: Imagine a World of Love,
Part 1. SEE the LOVE! The Truth about Self-Love,
CHAPTER 1. Why Is It So Hard to Say "I Love You" ... to Yourself?,
CHAPTER 2. Self-Love Isn't a Dirty Word, and You Can't Catch Narcissism,
CHAPTER 3. What Is Self-Love ... and How Can You Receive More?,
Part 2. GROW the LOVE! The Self-Love Tree and the Ten Branches of Self-Love,
CHAPTER 4. Self-Awareness & Self-Honesty,
CHAPTER 5. Self-Acceptance,
CHAPTER 6. Self-Care,
CHAPTER 7. Self-Compassion & Self-Forgiveness,
CHAPTER 8. Self-Trust,
CHAPTER 9. Self-Esteem,
CHAPTER 10. Self-Empowerment,
CHAPTER 11. Self-Respect & Self-Honor,
CHAPTER 12. Self-Pleasure,
CHAPTER 13. Self-Expression,
Part 3. AMPLIFY the LOVE! Secrets to Cultivating a Long-Lasting, Loving Relationship with Yourself,
CHAPTER 14. Make a Self-Love Promise: Stay Committed to Choosing Love for Yourself,
CHAPTER 15. Engage in a Radical Act of Self-Love: Practice Self-Love for Forty Days Straight,
CHAPTER 16. Be a Love Ambassador: Use Your Love Power to Generate Love for Yourself and Others,
A LOVE LETTER FOR YOU,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,