Much is said in modern self-help teachings about love of self, which is only fitting because its importance cannot be overstated. Your attitude toward yourself is the first and most important place to plant the seeds of love, for if you will not deal lovingly with yourself, you will stumble in all your other love relationships, even if you repress the pain of not cherishing yourself. The depth and resilience of your self love are also good measures of your spiritual maturity and your emotional health. Your capacity for self love says much about your intentions regarding your own psychological and material future. What do you intend to enjoy and achieve in the future? How much of your potential are you going to invest in yourself? What are the good things of earth life that you expect to create for yourself and your loved ones? How much do you intend to contribute to others in the world around you?
Denying love to yourself causes as much pain, suffering and long-term damage to you as it would to a child who is struggling to grow while knowing that its parents are withholding love and nurturance. It causes soul injury and only love can heal the wounds. Although it is true that love you receive from others will help you in your efforts to heal, only love of self can reach into the deepest recesses of the heart and psyche and heal the lesions there. There is no substitute for love of self and refusal to grant it to ourselves deepens and prolongs the duration of our soul injuries.
While you may have other relationships, unless you apply the tenderness of genuine non-judgmental love and acceptance to the examination of your own broken heart there will always be an underlying fragility to your love for others, because the foundation which supports your heart function cannot be firm.
Therefore, turn your entire capacity to love first upon yourself and allow its cleansing power to empty the recesses of the mind and body of its old pain. It is true that the memories will remain forever, but their potential to generate further pain must be drained so that the energy used to repress it may become available for more productive and progressive endeavors. This flushing of emotional and spiritual debris also creates space for new love and creates a sense of freedom and spaciousness in the psyche. This realization of spaciousness is of great value to the mind and frees it to experience new inspiration. This is the appropriate time to undertake practices to direct the mind into purifying activities such as meditation and yoga in order to support a wholesome unification of mind and body.
This is especially important if old relationships must be brought to an end. Doing so with as much graciousness and largesse as possible will hasten healing afterwards. So, concentrate on turning a loving eye upon yourself and your efforts to be whole. Admire your efforts. Give yourself credit for your attempts as well as your successes.
There is another healing aspect of self love that affects people around you and supports their development as well as your own. That is setting a worthy example for them to follow. When they see that you nurture yourself, that you honor your time, talents and resources, they may be inspired to reexamine their beliefs about themselves. Never underestimate the power of example in teaching others to cultivate their own love of self. Just as you do your best to follow the example of your heroes, in time you may see that you have become one who is thought worthy to be emulated by others.