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Loving Yourself Means Warts and All

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Did you ever think or say to yourself: "I'm worthless, I'll never amount to anything." We're easily obsessed with who we and how we appear to others, if we are even loveable; we constantly confront situations that test our sense of self worth and beset us with doubts. Then the thought creeps in: "How can anyone love me when I'm such a loser, when I don't love or even appreciate myself?"

Just to be clear: Loving ourselves is not done as an expression of the ego where we centralize only on ourselves, but as a genuine appreciation of our humanness in a world that is constantly changing.

When Ed first met Deb, he felt hopelessly unlovable. Possibly because his mother died five days after he was born, possibly because he grew up with yelling and arguments as the norm, and he was constantly fearful of getting punished or smacked. His stepmother would even mark the milk bottle so she knew how much milk he'd drunk. When he was about 6 he first became aware of family happiness at a cousin's house, where they were playing around a Christmas tree. So, no surprise that Ed suffered from feeling unlovable. Yet here was this woman saying she cared?

Now we're coming up to our 28th anniversary. Most people tend to marry someone who is either just like themselves or is just the opposite, which is what we did. In England they would say we're as different as chalk and cheese! This difference can be great -- a welcome balance to our own neuroses -- or it can be maddening. We haven't gotten through the last 28 years without many moments of exasperation, or times when we're saying the same thing but in a different way, such as: "The ceiling is flat." "No, the ceiling is white!"

Loving ourselves can appear impossible; it seems far easier to love someone else. But if we don't start with ourselves then we can't truly care about anyone else: We only love another if he or she loves us, as this is the love we're not giving to ourselves.

Don't get us wrong. Loving ourselves isn't airy-fairy; it's very grounded and real, a process of accepting ourselves just as we are, including shadow issues, past hurts, traumas, hidden rage or deep feelings of grief, so that we feel comfortable in our own skin. We can take a long look and slowly bring each piece into awareness and compassion. Meditation can help here as it enables us see ourselves clearly, it gives us a spaciousness to step back from the dramas and to make friends with our demons.

Such self-acceptance means we're no longer embarrassed by ourselves. There's no need to defend the ego, which keeps us thinking we're unworthy. We can even surrender the desire to be right in an argument. We can also say no to what is unacceptable, without thinking we have to please everyone.

Loving ourselves is a journey of accepting more and more deeply until it becomes transformed into joy as we realize we are all lovable and we're all held in love. This love arises from within, spontaneously and completely.

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Award-winning authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb's new novel is: Merging: Women in Love -- what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? -- and she's the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com.

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