At some point, the illusion breaks down and the opening for the start of the spiritual quest commences.
The quest turns from without to within and the search for answers begins. - David R. Hawkins


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Ways of Starting Self-appreciation

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For the reasons I have repeatedly laid out in various articles self-appreciation is a key step for our spiritual development for those that haven’t opened up to their spiritual selves i.e. most of us. Low self-esteem is endemic because modern life creates it through misguided culture and belief systems. I believe that how we feel about ourselves and how we unconsciously treat ourselves is one of the causes of stress in life.
Think a nice, warm, loving thought about anything and notice how it makes you feel; then try thinking an unpleasant or nasty thought and notice again how you feel. It’s not just an emotional reaction, our physiology changes depending on the tone of what we are thinking. Our bodies thrive on loving thoughts whereas negative thoughts have a detrimental effect on us. Please think about this – what you think changes your body chemistry. How empowering is that!

The core of who we really are is love. But our true identity is covered by the wounds of being a human being. Because the mind is generally terrified of facing the wounds of abandonment (human and spiritual), rejection, shame, guilt, grief and so on we tend to live an unexamined life of self-denial. We can’t look inwards because of what we fear we will find i.e. all our pain, powerlessness and inadequacy. So, instead, we look outwards for our solace. This means using others by getting them to make us feel loved, valid and safe. We use shiny things as a way of feeling good about ourselves in our lives. This requires constant topping up because the “truth” of our wounds always comes through after a while.

Luckily modern economies are built around consumerism and so we get the message that it is OK to spend, spend, spend. This gives us a spiritual get out of jail card or, more accurately put, it gives a keep us in jail card.
The solution that we all seek is inside us and has been all along, but so is the much feared problem too. That is why running from who we are is futile. It is hard to see how one can access this unlimited love inside us without confronting our wounds. It is absolutely possible of course, but most of us are so heavily identified with our human wounds that, in practice they need to be faced and healed.
By appreciating ourselves we begin the process of turning our attention inwards to what we need to look at. It is stressful being constantly in denial and trying to get the world to love us but if we can appreciate ourselves we find that many of our stresses melt away and life becomes easier and more permissive. You will not become vain and ego-centric if you aren’t already. Fearing vanity is a classic mind-trick. Fear-based mind thinks in black and white and thinks that if it lets go of something it will slide all the way over to the opposite extreme e.g. “If I give to myself, I’ll be vain”. “If I stop trying to be perfect then I’ll become a slob and no one will love me”. This fear keeps us stuck and prevents us from finding a healthier balance.

Here are some suggestions to help develop a greater appreciation for oneself. It is human nature to give one or two of what is listed below a quick go and then give up because it didn’t produce miraculous quick results. This instant solution approach to life has to be moderated. We don’t lose touch with ourselves overnight. It may well have taken concerted and repeated effort on the part of critical parents; authority figures; negative self-talk and constant exposure to our modern life style to cause us to lose touch with who we really are. It took practice, practice, practice and will require the same to change things back to a more balanced and loving approach to oneself. You will slip and berate yourself. That’s OK, you have just given yourself another opportunity to apologise to yourself.

If you have very low self-esteem then healing the causes of this is advised. Someone who was abused as a child is unlikely to find that affirmations have any power and may have great difficulty developing self-worth without professional assistance or healing.
It is even possible that doing any of these initial exercises may stir up powerful negative feelings that need to be healed. I use EFT but please ensure that you address whatever comes to the surface. Love yourself enough to allow these feelings to come up because they need to be released.

When you do any of these things it is important not to rush them, you can’t rush self-appreciation if it is to be genuine and if it isn’t genuine then there is no point in doing any of them. It is also important to connect to a positive feeling. The thought and the feeling is important. Feel genuine self-appreciation as if you were thinking about a loved one (which you are of course, aren’t you?). The thought changes mind culture and it is the feeling that heals and opens up our energies and heart centre.

This list is not a cure-all. It is the first baby steps in turning around the oil tanker of self-reproach that may have been steaming in the wrong direction for a long time. It may take a while for change to seen but it is much easier to live life this way once you’ve got over your initial resistance to self-nurturing. Once the concept of looking inside and accepting ourselves has been grasped, the steps that follow steps in your spiritual journey become easier.

Recommended reading - "When I loved myself enough" by Kim McMillen

© Phil Grant unless otherwise attributed