"I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware
I sit content,
And if each and all be aware
I sit content.
One world is aware,
and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself.
And whether I come to my own today
or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now,
or with equal cheerfulness,
I can wait."
-- Walt Whitman,
from Leaves of Grass
It's been a long time since I've read the Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and I was reminded of the passage above from the book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Your Sacred Self.
I was looking for some great points about loving myself from Wayne Dyer because he taught me how to love unconditionally. He did that by giving me his definition of unconditional love for others in this that I have quoted with joy so many times:
"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you."
And yet, as many times as I have stated this quote, I have to make a change to it so that it is more unconditional. I need to remove the conditional word phrase, 'those that you care for,' and replace them with two others, 'all others,' or better yet, 'all people,' or simply, 'all.' With the changes:
"Love is the ability and willingness to allow all to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy me."
We all have the ability. That cannot be denied; however, we don't all have the willingness, but it is in the willingness, the act of trust that I can love others and the choices they make, honoring those choices without my having to approve of them, or even like them at all.
So, since Wayne Dyer taught me so much about love (along with a few other awesome people!), I was thinking, is loving myself different or harder than loving others? Can I love others unconditionally and not be loving myself unconditionally? I don't think that is possible.
I met up with a friend and reader recently and we were talking about the changes in him. Then, he told me, "you taught me how to love myself." I cannot even imagine a higher compliment than this, and yet I can only be doing that as a matter of practice, for I don't yet see myself as fully there.
But, you know, that word, practice, is one of my favorites because that is one of the best ideas I've ever come across. To practice is to act, to do, to state, to do again, to continue to improve, to expand, to unfold, and I see learning to love unconditionally as the highest practice I can ever entertain and participate in. Indeed, I see practice as required as is breathing in and out is required for life in this body. It's not a place we get to and then we are there, it is continually unfolding.
In the Bible, it is stated several times to love your neighbor as you love yourself--even as God has loved us. I don't see any way, nor any meaning in separating those loves. They are the exact same as we allow that to be. We all have the ability. We may not have the willingness yet. However, we will all know it, whether now or soon, or after we make our transition in death at which point I believe we are welcomed home to unconditional love. Finding it now makes for a far more delightful journey.
Ability? Done! Willingness? Done. Practicing? Absolutely!
Spread Some Joy Today--by closing your eyes from time to time and allow yourself to feel the depth of God's love for you and feel the joy within that encourages you to share that joy today and every day.