The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Do you love yourself?

And so we come back to the question of loving yourself, possibly the central issue in the process.  That may well be true, because the Heartbeat meditation is the single most flexible and powerful tool I’ve found.  I mean—there is no single perfect tool, any more than there is a single perfect medicine, but it comes close, providing more of a safe, broad-spectrum palliative than any other method I know of.

The reason that I have placed so much emphasis on relationships is that they mirror who we are.  True, an advanced soul can travel through life with no such connections (for instance, Sri Chinmoy, who I consider one such genuine soul, has no sexual or physically intimate relationships).  But the problem is that about 98% of the people who have claimed not to need or want them strike me as being in denial—and often later confessed to have been so.  They were manifesting damage, fear, doubt, lack of self-love, but covered it up with “I’m doing fine.  I don’t need a relationship. Or I have a dozen people who love me, I don’t need a Special Someone.”

I AM NOT POINTING FINGERS HERE.  I don’t have the omniscience to say who is in this category and who is not.  If anyone reads these words and thinks I am speaking of them, they are probably wrong. Only you, in your heart, in your most intimate, silent moments, know what is the truth.  Those of you who eschew such intimacy for genuine spiritual or healthy emotional reasons certainly know that there are others who lie or deceive themselves about being in such a state.  It is to those I speak, and not you. 
My position is that it is impossible to have a healthy, happy intimate relationship without being on the road of healing yourself. And that such healing can be postponed by avoiding the mirror of a single human partner.  Multiple partners, partnerships with non-equals (like your children), pets that substitute for human partners, partners living at such a distance that you don’t have daily intimate contact—all of these things are very different mirrors than what I suggest.  Only you know if they are really sufficient.  And if they aren’t, and you’re not ready to move forward, there is a very good chance you will lie to yourself, or to others. 

So, the reason relationships are so important is that they tell us about self-love, and self-healing. We cannot give to others unless we have first given to ourselves.  A relationship with a worthy equal is not co-dependant.  It is not rescuing. Do you have any idea how often people talk about marrying someone to help them?  To heal them?  To save them?  ALL OF THIS IS A DISTRACTION FROM YOUR OWN WORK.  That wounded person you were trying to help was YOU.  You just lied to yourself, told yourself you were strong and they were weak and needed you. No, no, no.  You were too wounded to find a relationship with a healthy, stable person, did the best you could do, and then lied to yourself to feel superior, healed, powerful, like a rescuer, a healer, a knight on a white horse.  It is one of the greatest self-deceptions that human beings ever perpetrate on themselves.
What?  You say you deliberately bonded with a damaged person, had children with them, and thereby inflicted that damage on helpless babies?  Deliberately brought less stability, love, health, and security to your nest than you could?  For god’s sake, any higher animal will force a potential mate to prove its health and power before blending genes.   You’re saying you loved your potential children less than a dolphin, an eagle, or a wolf?  I think not.  YOU WERE DOING THE BEST YOU COULD.
Want to do better?  Want to be able to tell yourself the truth about wanting to have a bonded relationship (and remember—if you are REALLY content with single status, these words will not affect you at all.  You should just be nodding sagely: “yes, there are some poor wounded souls who deceive themselves…” any other internal response, and you may have a serious existential issue around self-love and relationship.  This is between you and you. Any protests will be considered cries for help.)

Then learn to love yourself.  The “heartbeat” meditation is wonderful.  Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say: “I love you?”  Can you meditate, and visualize the child you were, and hold him/her?  Can you write yourself a love letter?  Can you look at your love partners as mirrors and be proud of what you see?

These are basic tests, basic indications of health on this crucial, critical level.  Remember: you can awaken your sacred energy from the heart out, or from the body up, but NEVER from the head down.  You CANNOT create the world in the image of your ego.  Tell me you can, and I will immediately look at your physical body, and your intimate relationships.  If you are not healthy in these two arenas—or, more accurately, if you are not what, what my limited but extensive experience has come to consider healthy in these two arenas, I will assume you are dealing with massive damage you are unready to deal with.   Too many times in my life I have ignored my intuition, listened to what people said about being “just fine” being broke, or alone, or fat.  And then when, later, their lives collapsed they confessed that they had lied to me.  I had been right all along. 

I will never mistrust my intuition again, even as I keep in mind that it can be wrong.  Again, I mean no insult to anyone.  I know I might be wrong.  But I have to trust my own senses and mind, more than I trust what anyone says.  As all of YOU must learn to trust your senses and mind, more than what anyone says, no matter how much you love them.  We lie to protect ourselves.  We lie, and pray that someone will see through the lies to our secret, damaged, shameful, imposter selves—and love us anyway. 

Do you love yourself?  You must, in order to heal.  In order to grow.  In order to love others.  What is the value of the gift you give your loved ones, if you yourself do not treasure it?

Do you love yourself?

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