Sunday, March 14, 2021

43. You Can Love Yourself by Rethinking "Love" and "Self"

Illustration by Alberto Mier
While preparing this 50 Lessons series I had the great honor of being quoted in two features for CNN, both centering around themes of loving yourself around Valentine’s Day.  I thought they turned out pretty well, and that both articles offered solid advice on ways to grow and maintain love for one’s self and others during the entire year.  That is, however, until someone close to me said, “I understand what you’re saying. I just don’t feel love for myself. I never have.”  

So I realized that it may help to clarify what I mean by “love” and “self,” since the way I experience these concepts are very different today from how I would have described thirty years ago. 

When I talk about feeling “love,” I don’t mean an infatuated gotta-have-it adrenaline-rush love.  I don’t sit around inflating myself with affirmations and giving myself ecstatic kisses all day.  For me love is more accurately described as an overall energetic presence than an acute emotion.  It is an ever present experience that is calm, warm, and centering.  It is a recognition that I am merely nothing more than a vessel for Spirit, and in that context, using “I” or “Self” is a misnomer.  

In my world, we ALL contain the loving presence of God within us.  When I say “God” here I am not referring to a critical judge who decides who is naughty or nice.  “God” for me refers to a generous abundant energy, not a judging entity.  I use the term “God” interchangeably with “Spirit” or “Light” or “Cher” (because I’m still That Gay).  

In the spirit world there is no separation -- there is just infinite loving energy.  There are no bodies, no vessels, no “others”, just abundance.  We are living on this thing called “earth” in separate vessels called “bodies” that give us the illusion that we are distinct from one another.  In this world of separate bodies it is considered normal for people to think they can hurt an “other” without hurting themselves.  In the Spirit world we recognize all living things contain the energy of God, and it is impossible not to hurt a living thing without damaging the God in you at the same time.   

Conversely, perceiving the God that is in other beings strengthens the God that is in you.  In this context there is no distinction between me and you, Madonna and Gaga, Monica and Brandy, we are all vessels of the same abounding energy.  We are here on this planet for a very brief amount of time to strengthen that love, to expand God’s energy.  Anytime we replace a fearful (critical) thought with a loving thought we are creating “miracles.”  And so all we really have to is see the God in ourselves, and by extension the God in each other, in order to paradoxically experience the reality that there is no “self,” and there is no “other.”  It is in this discernment that we find moments of love, peace, and true power.  

These concepts did not come naturally to me, and took several years of studying “A Course In Miracles" before they began to make sense.  What helped was listening to the teachings of Jacob Glass, and hearing him describe the metaphor of sunbeams:  “When you look at sunbeams they appear separate, but your mind understands they only look that way because the cloud is obstructing the sun.  As soon as the light is unobstructed, the illusion of separation disappears.”  That metaphor began to help me understand that we humans and living beings are the sunbeams who currently appear separate, but that is only because God’s Light is obstructed in this thing called “world.”  In our natural state we just exist as parts of an infinite loving Light, like the sun.

If we can access this natural state from time to time, then we can experience glimpses of abundant love here on Earth.  People sometimes feel closer to this in nature, or watching sunsets on a beach.  Others may feel closer to this Light around other humans, around their pets, or through meditation or prayer.  For some it’s easier in sexual situations, and/or through intentional drug states.  I’ve had moments using all of these, however for me walking around New York City is often a place where I feel very connected to these principles on a regular basis.  All provide access to a sense of energetic love that is not directly tethered to the actions or attentions of another human. 

I can fully concede that all of this might be “wrong” and if there is such a thing as a critical God who is judging us like American Idol contestants, then I’m likely to be voted off first in the afterlife.  But even if I’m mistaken, this perception of “love” allows for the regenerating experience of giving and receiving energy and affection as I turn 50, and helps me look forward to all the joy in the decades ahead. 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist helping individuals and couples enjoy life with peace, purpose, and pleasure. His books "Absolutely Should-less" and "Rational Relating" help people experience connection with joy, serenity, and meaning. His work has been featured on CNN Health, The New York Times, MSNBC, USA Today and more. He can be reached at or 347-227-7707.

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