If you can love another, you can love yourself

If you can love another, you can love yourself.

In fact I could take it one step further – the only one you can truly guarantee loves you is yourself!

But how many who seek love from another do not know how to show it to themselves?

What does self-love look like?

– Accepting your own vulnerabilities and flaws: Two very difficult things. To be vulnerable in a society that can be predatory, to be still in a sea of moving people who demonize ‘idleness’, to dare to look within and risk being called ‘childish’, these are not easy pressures to deal with. We are expected to be superhuman by others and by trying to live up to this, we fail to acknowledge our limited capacities. The unhealthy customs of an unhealthy society should not be the benchmark of sanity. Whatever the self-destructive masses say, however perfect their Instagram and Facebook selves appear, deep down we are all harbouring a vulnerable self and we are all flawed and imperfect.

– Treating yourself and acknowledging yourself: Enjoying life without guilt is key to self-love. You deserve the finer things in life – sometimes! Even with moral considerations, such as an imperative to be vegan, you can forgive yourself for not being 100% perfect. We do not live in the conditions where we can flower into fully compassionate, healthy, ethically perfect eco-friendly vegans – so why strive for the impossible? Why take all the problems of a society onto your two shoulders? Acknowledging that you deserve good things is a wholesome self love. Sometimes you can be a bit greedy, eat a whole packet of biscuits to yourself, have a lazy and listless day. This is your birthright as an imperfect, sentient being.

– Listening to your deepest wounds and allowing healing: There is a wounded part in all of us. I do not know at this stage in my life if these wounds ever heal. I can say with certainty that it is possible to get better at managing and understanding those wounds. There are better and worse responses to a flaring up of inner wounds. Being frustrated at the wounded inner-child for keeping you up all night when you have an important meeting tomorrow may seem a rational response. But in the long-term that wounded self is going to need love or it will damage your psyche, self-neglect does not produce healthy people. I have put myself to sleep with a self-directed ‘I love you, unconditionally’ after a full night of insomnia. Unconditional love is not a good thing for adults in my view, but for children it is quite essential. If you cannot love your own vulnerable inner-child, who can you love? That is where love is needed the most and you are in the ideal position to give it. Unconditionally.

– Non-comparison with imagined selves: A good friend of mine often talks about falling short of his ‘best self’. I don’t know what he is talking about, he already is his best possible self! Sometimes he stands, sometimes he falls. It is as good as we can get. I have always compared myself to ‘famous me’. Whilst this desire for recognition has some basis in reality and possibility, the idea that there will be a point where one breaks through into the world of fame and celebrity, a lofty vantage for philanthropy and fighting the system, is an imagined self of absurd proportions. If you are brave enough to be flawed yourself, that is a damn good effort.

– The nature of beings: The nature of your being is to continue existing. The will to live is something as natural as a plant reaching up to the sun. Ideas of a self-destructive nature are imposed from without, by forces which are interested in using you, exploiting you, or harming you. The very nature of yourself, what philosophers have called the ‘conatus’, is a stronger ‘idea’ than anything from without. Within that will to live is a will to love and that must necessarily be directed ‘inwards’.

And finally, very importantly, don’t worry if you can’t self-love at any given time. The world is too big for your shoulders and there are a lot of bad influences in town. Spending a night binging on Netflix or Rome: Total War is the birthright of those of us born in this era. Distraction, hobbies, being a bit too self-critical sometimes. This is all part of the sentient-human package.

If we idolize and essentialize self-love and make it something to aspire to, then paradoxically we destroy it, for we trample over the part of us that is imperfect.

Remember always to leave room enough for the fucked-up you.

 

The power of dreams

I have started to come into full connection with my dream-self. This means the habit of journaling dreams, but also on a deeper level, trying to understand them. I am far from an ‘expert’ in why we dream and what it all means, but I do not propose to provide solid answers. The subject matter seems too ethereal for that. I wish only to journal my thoughts and express what I believe; perhaps you will find commonality there or can help me realize what they are all about!

There is a logic in dreams, one that cannot be discerned from the light-world of reason and conscious decision. It is so easy to ask ‘how does this fit into my narrative? What is it trying to show me?’ I am now asking ‘what is the logic of the dream-world; is there one at all?’

I am believe two things of two things. Firstly that dreams are not meaningless. It is laughably arrogant to think so – as if the conscious mind alone can find its own significance; as if a being can ignore its very primal creative power and expect to know anything of itself! I believe our dreams to be visions from the unconscious mind, a ‘spiritual’ guide. If anything, it is the contextless, socially-shackled conscious mind that is more prone to meaninglessness – as this part of us alone can be subverted and truncated; there is no escaping the truth of our dreams, for without sleep we cannot live, and without dreams our sleep is poor.

Secondly, I am sure that dreams  are not just suppressed desires. This may be a part of a dream’s expression, but I do not believe for a second that a dream is just the ‘id’ trying to reach the surface. This is a very crude explanation for our dreams, and it feels intuitively wrong.

There is something far more powerful, far more primordial to the dream than that. I feel the symbolism of the dream is linking me to something universal – even if I am the only dreamer and my dreams are about me as an individuated incarnation, the themes and the symbols and the language of the dream have been absorbed by the world outside them.

My approach is to be patient with these dreams, to recognise the themes and try to understand their language. It is not enough to just write about it and analyse it from afar, and it can be dogmatic to turn to a dictionary of dream imagery for our answers (for instance, to think that lions always represent fear, or fire represents change or chaos! Its so trite!)

What I believe we must do is try to become the symbolism, try to embody it to connect to this deep part of ourselves. To journal carefully and recognise themes, places we keep going back to, people we keep on seeing. On the same patch of green space near to where I once lived I have dreamed of totem poles, of little English estate kids who resembled monkeys, of a camp of hippies and eco-warriors right on my front doorstep, of jungle-like long grass and a sense of emptiness. Is it a vision of past, present or a prediction of the future? I have to work that out myself.

Is this a pure expression of our spiritual aspect? Our direct connection to the world which created us and generates us? 

What I will end with is the incredible creative power of dreams. Spontaneously they can create the most complex systems an environments. Last night I dreamt I was listening to a song on the TV – the dreams devised the chords and lyrics, and they were great! Sadly I could not remember it at all. I also tend to dream of  reaching impossible train lines where the stations have ridiculous jibberish names. I cannot remember a single one of them! Sometimes the names are more plausible, but still random creations of the dream mind. Imagine consciously coming up with thirty station names, how much effort it would take. Now imagine trying to bring them all into conscious focus simultaneously – that it seems is what my dream-mind does (unless it is generating them at some earlier point in the dream or in waking life, but isn’t that just even more incredible, that it can create a dream to exist in and prepare the next parts!)

All of this is spontaneous – this is what makes it so unbelievably incredible. Our dream minds generate entire complex worlds and characters, impossibly vibrant colours and combinations, without the slightest effort.

I will never take this deep world for granted again, I promise. Every detail I can remember will be written down – you never know what is relevant, and what is just beautiful chaos.