Journeying Toward Wholeness

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How do You Learn to Love Yourself? A Key Question! PART 2

August 22nd, 2022 · No Comments · learn to love yourself

In my last post, I started to explore the question of “How do I learn to love myself?” This question is vital for our personal journey.

PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

As we started to explore in the last post, the path to travel to learn to love yourself involves some real joy and liberation, but also involves a demanding process of discovering and acknowledging who we really are. What makes this path so demanding is that most of us have received an enormous amount of messaging about who we’re supposed to be. In a great many cases, these messages, and the childhood, educational and social experiences that led to them have also conveyed the message that we are not really meeting the standard of who we “ought” to be. This is before we even start to discuss the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on advertising yearly in North America. Much advertising conveys the message that who we are and our present way of life doesn’t really measure up, and that we had best hurry up and buy the right things, if we want to be the kind of person we really should be.

We can easily absorb a message of perfectionism. A message that we should be “perfect”—and that we only have the right to love ourselves if we are perfect. This is an external standard, and we will never understand or positively value ourselves until we turn away from such standards, and look for what we really need within ourselves. As Jung puts it,

Looking outwards has got to be turned into looking into oneself. Discovering yourself provides you with all you are, were meant to be, and all you are living from and for.

Bobbing and Weaving to Avoid Who We Are

We can find it very tempting to avoid encounters with ourselves. Rather than facing what we really think or feel, it can be easy to just “go with the flow”. We can easily suppress or ignore our own deepest reactions, values, attitudes and desires, supplanting them with the conventional attitudes of our family, social group, or workplace or with the values of society as a whole. Yet what we really need is to confront and accept how we feel.

To love ourselves involves accepting and being kind to feelings that we may find in ourselves. These may include the “difficult” feelings, such as sadness, feelings of hurt or woundedness, fear and anger. These feelings are a normal part of our human experience, and it can bring great healing to acknowledge them. Sometimes, there can be a powerful connection between unacknowledged feelings and experiences of anxiety and depression.

Similarly there may be thoughts or perspectives on things in our life that are unfamiliar, and that arise when we acknowledge our feelings. It’s important to be open and accepting to these thoughts, too—but also not to be overwhelmed by them.

We need “learn to love yourself” by finding ways to be gentle with unacknowledged thoughts and feelings, some of which can be quite strong. A gentle approach, much like relating to a small, hurt child can help us to acknowledge the feeling, without being completely overwhelmed by it.

As we confront these feelings, we’re in the process of connecting with previously unacknowledged parts of ourselves.

Learn to Love Yourself by Learning to Love Your Journey

There’s a great deal more that could be said about the great and vitally important process through which you learn to love yourself. Much of this is related to the process of accepting and loving the whole journey that is our lives. Jung again captures something vitally important when he tells us

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

By “who you truly are”, Jung is not referring to some idealized or sanitized version of yourself. He is referring to living out with courage and honesty who you actually are, with strengths and weaknesses, beauty and warts—all of it. To be able to embrace that, and, yes, ultimately to love that, is for Jung the true basis of a meaningful life.

In Jungian analysis or depth psychotherapy this focus on continually finding and loving who you really are is the very heart of the work. It can be a key step in the process of loving yourself to move in the direction of better understanding and being conscious of yourself. One powerful way to commit to that process can be undertaking work with a supportive Jungian depth psychotherapist.

With every good wish for your personal journey,

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner

© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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