Why We Do Not Love Ourselves by Frank Giudici
Love Yourself Into Wholeness
By Frank Giudici
Why We Do Not Love Ourselves
This is the first of four lessons in this workshop. In this talk Frank helps us understand why learning to love ourselves is the most important thing we will ever do and why various factors in our childhood have caused us to not love ourselves.
01 Not loving ourselves is the source of all our problems and challenges
This presentation is going to be more in the nature of a workshop than a lecture series. What this means is, that as a part of this presentation there will be something for you, the listener, to do. In this way, we’re going to be ensuring, at least to some degree, that the ideas we’ll be discussing, will be understood not only on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level as well. As we act upon ideas presented to us, we invest more of our feelings, which is where all the power is. And as a result, we allow the ideas to work on us, in a way that actually brings about a change in our consciousness and in our life.
In this workshop, we’re going to be working with a certain basic premise and that is, that the only real problem and greatest challenge that any of us have, is learning to love ourselves. Learning to love ourselves totally and unconditionally. And further, that all problems, challenges, or whatever we may choose to call them, stem from this one basic problem, the inability to love ourselves totally and unconditionally. No matter what its nature might be—one of prosperity, physical illness, human relationships—if we were to trace any problem we’re having back to its root cause, we’d soon find that it involved some aspect of our not loving ourselves. Obviously then it becomes very important to learn to love oneself totally and unconditionally.
Now friends, if you find yourself disagreeing totally or in part with this concept, then I ask that you simply put your disagreement on the shelf for the time being. And your thought, just set it aside for the moment and follow along with us as we move into our workshop experience.
02 Why do we not love and fully accept ourselves
At this point, a question comes to mind. Why don’t we love ourselves? Why does that this lack of self love exist? If we’re children of God, children of love, and heirs to all that God is, then why don’t we fully accept ourselves as such? Well, there are a number of possible answers to this question and one that certainly fits, has to do with the fact that we are conditioned beings. As we grow up in life, we allow ourselves to respond in a variety of ways to outer stimuli, that is constantly being presented to us. As a matter of fact, we’re bombarded with all sorts of outer stimuli, such as the words and actions of others, or even natural occurrences, such as sunshine, rain, wind and so forth.
All of this results in our being conditioned, in a sense that we adopt certain thought patterns in relation to this outer stimuli. These thought patterns stay with us, at least until we change them, and definitely have their effects in our lives. For the law of mind-action states that thoughts held in the mind, produce in the outer, after their kind. The unfortunate thing is that some of these thought patterns result in our not loving ourselves totally and unconditionally.
03 One reason is through the actions of our peers
One of the ways in which our conditioning resulted in our not loving ourselves, was through the actions of our peers when we were youngsters. Do you remember how warm and loving we felt toward our friends at times? But then, things could change at the drop of a hat and suddenly we were mad at each other. Then we’d began to say things to each other that really went deep, or we’d began to tease each other and laugh.
The point is that during those early years, we were very impressionable and anything that was directed toward us, whether it was positive or negative, was pretty well accepted by us as so-called, “Fact.” Therefore, we began to believe a lot of the things that were said to us, about us and especially when they were said by our peers. Peer pressure as a youngster is rough. Well, by accepting many of the negative things that were said, we began to develop a sense of lack of self worth. In other words, it all resulted in our not loving ourselves as we should have been doing.
04 Another reason was because of authority figures
Another reason as to why we don’t love ourselves enough, also has to do with conditioning. In this case, it was at the hands of some authority figure, such as a parent, or a close relative, or maybe a teacher in school. In each case, the authority figure was pretty much responding to the way in which he, or she had been conditioned and also to what society expects.
Specifically, this has to do with the fact that most of us were conditioned to love others and not ourselves. As a matter of fact, we may have been conditioned to believe that it’s even wrong to love yourself. In many cases, this was supported by religious training, that stated that we are worms of the dust, or that we are basically evil and that sort of thing.
Now, the authority figures involved, certainly had good intentions in mind. For one thing, they were trying to help us develop character traits, that would enable us to get along with other people. They were trying to help us become acceptable to society. And this in itself was good, nevertheless, the emotional damage was still done and the result was a lack of self love and appreciation.
You know if you stop to think about it, you’ll probably discover that it’s socially acceptable to love other people, but not yourself. Can you imagine what would happen if you walked up to someone and said, “Hello there. How are you? You know, I love myself.” Well, you’d probably get some strange looks and comments thrown your way. No, it’s much more socially acceptable to love others. It’s okay to walk up to others and say, “I love you,” although, under certain circumstances that can get you into trouble too. But it’s not okay to say, “I love me.” And yet, this is the very thing we should be feeling and even saying, when it’s appropriate to do so.
05 A third reason is that we were not taught to love ourselves
Another reason as to why we don’t love ourselves enough, is closely connected with what we’ve just said about being conditioned to love others and not ourselves. And that is that most people were not taught how to love themselves. As we’ve said, we were taught just the opposite, how to love others, but not ourselves. It’s like learning to do anything, drive a car, sail a boat, paint a picture, or whatever. Somewhere along the line, it’s helpful to receive some training. And this also applies to loving oneself. It helps, if somewhere along the way, somebody is willing to teach you how to do this. But again, most people have never experienced this type of training.
06 Loving ourselves is essential to loving others
Now, the idea of loving oneself may sound selfish to some people, but it really isn’t when properly understood. Loving oneself really means appreciating and accepting oneself as a child of God and all that that implies. We all talk a great deal about the need to express more love in this world, to love one another to the fullest, so that peace and true brotherhood will reign supreme. Well, the truth is that we can only love others to the degree that we love and appreciate ourselves.
There’s an old saying to the effect that you can’t give away something that you haven’t got for yourself. In other words, if I want to give you five dollars, then when I reach into my pocket, what had better be there? At least five dollars, otherwise there’s nothing that I can give to you.
Jesus was conveying the same idea when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Now, the key word in that statement is the little two letter word, “As.” As you love yourself, so you love others. You can only love others, to the degree that you love yourself. This is a fundamental statement of being, which shows us that our primary responsibility is learning to love ourselves. When this is done, then our attempts to love others will be natural ones, not forced attempts.
As a matter of fact, once you have learned to love yourself, then you won’t even have to work at loving others. Your expression of love toward others will be a natural and spontaneous one, because you will simply be expressing what you truly are, a radiating center of love. And the love that emanates from you, will be done automatically and even effortlessly, according to the law of mind-action, which again, states that thoughts held in the mind, produce in the outer after their kind. And friends, the thought that you will have held in mind is an honest and unselfish love and appreciation for yourself, which as we’ve said, must manifest as love in your life according to the law of mind-action.
07 Loving all aspects of ourselves
A few moments ago I said that loving oneself really means appreciating and accepting oneself as a child of God and all that that implies. Let’s take a look now at some of those implications. In the truth teaching, whenever we come to the point of trying to understand ourselves more fully, it seems that we have to compartmentalize ourselves into various aspects of being. Well, we’re not going to make any exception here, because in this process of learning to love ourselves totally and unconditionally, we have to learn to love the various parts if you will, of ourselves. And the parts we’re talking about are the four phases of our being, our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual selves.
08 Loving ourselves physically
First of all, to love oneself physically means, in part, to appreciate and accept one’s physical appearance. Now, here is where a great many people have difficulty. Because in society we have developed over a long period of time, certain standards for physical beauty, many people feel they fall short of these standards and therefore, allow themselves to feel inferior in the area of physical beauty. It’s been said that beauty is skin deep, but so is our sensitivity to it. In that regard, many people truly are thin-skinned.
However, the truth is that beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder. If we behold something as beautiful, either in ourselves or other people, then for us it is beautiful. And if we would begin to deal with our feelings about some of these so-called standards for physical beauty, we’d soon find that we would be developing new standards, which would see beauty in everything and everyone.
There was a very fine song written a few years ago and that is still popular today, that stated that “everything is beautiful in its own way” and this is true. There is a special and a unique beauty that everyone and everything has and if we look for it, we’ll always find it. And this includes our physical self as well.
09 Loving our talents
Now, another way in which we learn to love our physical self is by appreciating and accepting the physical talents we have. Each of us has any number of things we can do well physically, but not all of us are allowing ourselves to bring these talents forth into expression. For one reason or another, we have stifled our expression of these fine talents and thereby denied ourselves an opportunity to experience success, happiness and fulfillment. Some people may say, “I don’t have any talents,” but this simply isn’t true, for we all do.
As a member of the faculty in Unity School for Ministerial and Religious Studies, I’m always amazed at the amount of musical talent we find each year, in each new class. There are always several people with fine singing voices and as many or more that play musical instruments on a professional level, wether or not they have ever actually performed as professionals. Now, we may not have developed our musical talents to the degree that others have, but certainly there are other talents that we have developed, of which we may not be consciously aware. But nevertheless, in some way and at some time, we have developed them and they are now ready for expression.
What about the person who suddenly decides to take up painting and discovers that he, or she, can produce a very fine piece of work, without ever having had any formal instruction? Or the person who decides to take up wood-working as a hobby and makes the same discovery? People have been discovering these so-called hidden talents, for ages now. And as a result, have experienced happiness and fulfillment and even increased prosperity, to a degree never before dreamed of. If we first of all acknowledge that we have these talents, then we have taken the first step toward loving our physical self in this particular area of physical talents.
While I believe that we all have the potential to express fully every conceivable physical talent that could exist, I also believe that the dimensions of time and space in which we are now expressing, prevent us from doing so. But it does seem that each of us has several talents that have been developed to the point that if we would allow them to express, would bring us undreamed of blessings. And in turn, would make us an even greater blessing to all persons who enter our circle of influence. So accepting our physical talents and our physical appearance are two ways in which we can begin loving and appreciating our total physical self.
10 Loving our intellectual or thinking self
The next phase of being into which we have compartmentalized ourselves, in which we need to learn to love totally and unconditionally, is our intellectual or thinking self. Let me put is this way, we all have a brain, but none of us use it to its fullest capacity. And the reasons why we don’t are numerous and varied, most of which have to do with early life conditioning. As an example, some people as youngsters, had to listen to such statements as, “Why can’t you be more like your brother, or your sister? He gets good grades in school, why can’t you? How come you’re so dumb? Why can’t you be smart like him?” Of course, the subconscious mind listens to all this and believes it, so it becomes a part of that person’s consciousness. And a destructive part it is.
Or maybe, for a long time we’ve been listening to something like this, “Well, you really can’t expect to get anywhere, because you don’t have the education.” And again, the subconscious mind picks it up, believes it and allows that false thought to become a destructive, limiting part of the individual’s consciousness.
Now, the truth is that we all are intelligent beings. We all have access to divine ideas, within our own individual consciousness, regardless of our level of formal education, or in some cases, even in spite of it and regardless of whatever it might be that we have listened to and accepted in the past, that would prevent us today from loving and accepting ourselves as intelligent beings.
Of course it’s true that while we all have the same potential for drawing upon these divine ideas within us, that some have developed this potential to a greater extent than others. Nevertheless, the truth remains that if we want to and if we’ll work at it, we all can express our intelligence in ways that will bless us and benefit mankind. When we do this, then we are loving and accepting ourselves as intelligent beings.
11 Accepting our negative feelings
The third phase of being to be considered, is our emotional, or feeling self. And a very sensitive area this is indeed. But if we’re going to love ourselves totally and unconditionally, then we’ve got to accept ourselves as feeling beings. To do this means, basically, to accept all the feelings we have, whether we call them good or bad, positive or negative.
Now, to accept something does not necessarily mean that you agree with it, or condone it. What it means is, that while you may not agree with it, neither do you condemn it. You simply accept it without condemnation. In the case of any negative feelings we discover within ourselves, to accept them does not mean that we agree with them, that we say that they are right and okay to have. To accept them means to see them as a part of us now, to know that there is a reason as to why they are there and to not condemn ourselves for having them.
In his book, “Prayer Can Change Your Life,” Dr. William Parker brings out the idea that one of the hardest things to do is convince people that once they have discovered they have negative feelings, that they didn’t put them there on purpose. They are there as a result of certain conditioning we have accepted in life. When in the process of accepting yourself as a feeling being, you get to the point of discovering negative feelings within yourself, the first thing to do is not condemn yourself for having them.
This is what I refer to as the top layer of negativity. In other words, when you discover a negative feeling within yourself, such as fear, doubt, or resentment, this is for all practical purposes a layer of negativity. Well, when you begin to condemn yourself for having it, by saying something like, “I shouldn’t have that. I’m a truth student and I should know better,” then you are beginning to construct another layer of negativity, right over the first one. The thing to do is peel off that top layer of negativity, by stopping the self-condemnation. Simply don’t condemn yourself. And this you can do through the presence and power of God within you. Then you only have one layer of negativity to work on and this you can also begin to do through the same presence and power of God within you. You are then free to begin redirecting the energy you have been using to create a negative feeling, into the creation of a positive one. And this becomes easier to do, because you are no longer working under the burden of self-condemnation.
So accepting oneself as a feeling being means, in part, accepting the negative feelings we have. But in the awareness that while it’s okay to have them, it’s not okay to hang on to them, for if we do they will continue to have their destructive effects in our life.
12 Accepting our positive feelings—especially love
Next, loving and accepting oneself as a feeling being, also means accepting the positive feelings we have. And here, we are speaking primarily of love feelings. One might say that this isn’t hard to do, accepting feelings of love that we have. But sometimes, this can be more difficult than accepting negative feelings we find within ourselves. Why? Well, because love can be a very difficult emotion to express, especially if it’s been stifled and repressed for many years. And once you truly accept the fact that you have feelings of love, then the desire to express them automatically follows and this can be very threatening. It’s threatening because in expressing deep feelings of love, we are exposing ourselves as it were and allowing ourselves to become vulnerable, wide open to anything that may be directed toward us.
Now, if a person has done this in the past and experienced rejection in some form, then it’s understandable that expressing love today can be very threatening. Nevertheless, that love and the desire for its expression remain within us. It may be deeply buried, because of rejection experiences in the past, but it’s still there and it’s always crying out for expression. Therefore, friends, we’ve got to accept this part, this very positive part of ourselves if we expect to find happiness and fulfillment in life. And once we accept our love feelings, then we have taken another step in loving and appreciating ourselves as feeling beings.
13 We all are—men and women—feeling and intellectual beings
One more thing that may be helpful in this area of accepting and loving ourselves as feeling beings, is knowing that we all, both men and women, are feeling as well as intellectual beings. In the past, it’s been quite customary to speak of women as being predominantly feeling beings, while the men were supposed to be all intellectual. Now, there was undoubtedly a good reason for this sort of thing and a lot of it had to do with our learning to become civilized. That is, certain roles were ascribed to the male, because he was apparently physically stronger. And certain other roles were applied to the female, because she was the barer of children.
As these roles were played out by each sex, we were able to evolve a workable society and thereby become civilized. But in so doing, the feeling capacity in men and the intellectual capacity in women, were not allowed to be developed to any significant extent. In other words, men weren’t supposed to have feelings and women weren’t supposed to be intelligent.
Well now, that may have worked for a time and even been necessary for a time, but things are different today, because we have evolved to a point where it is now okay and even necessary for good health, for men to have and to express feelings and for women to assume roles that bring out their intellectual capabilities. So gentlemen, it’s okay to show your feelings. And ladies, it’s okay to be intelligent. Knowing this, can help us to love and appreciate ourselves, all the more as feeling or emotional beings, as well as intellectual beings.
14 Loving our spiritual self
This now brings us to the fourth and final phase of being to be considered. Our spiritual self. How do we learn to love and appreciate our spiritual self? Well, a great deal can be said and has been said in most of Unity’s teachings about this. But basically, this means to see oneself as a child of God and all that that implies. And a good deal of what has been said on this cassette tape so far, has dealt with all that that implies. In addition to what has been said, we can add that loving and appreciating one’s spiritual self, means seeing oneself as an individualized expression of God. And God is the fullness of love, peace, wisdom and joy. When we can see ourselves as potentially capable of expressing these and other divine qualities, and we go to work on expressing them, then we have taken another big step in loving and appreciating ourselves spiritually and totally.
But maybe there’s another way. A sort of backdoor approach if you will, to accepting our spiritual self. In a sense, we can say that when we have learned to accept our physical, intellectual and emotional selves, then the net result should be an acceptance of our spiritual self as well. For when we’ve got the first three selves in balance and working together as a harmonious unit, then what’s left but an integrated whole that we may collectively call our spiritual self. If it helps bring greater understanding of oneself, then it might be worth thinking about.
Let’s do that, as we now move ahead with our workshop.