By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, I talk about how to love yourself unconditionally.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: How to love yourself unconditionally. (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions on how to behave with love to ourselves while engaged with a child or loved one, how to start a new habit with the first small step, how to believe in yourself while getting feedback from others, how to begin to do meaningful work and pursuing your dreams, dealing with disappointment and expectations, bringing awareness to your narrative, staying motivated in moments of disappointment and much more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
How to love yourself unconditionally:
Before we begin, I’d like you to just settle in and be present. Noticing what is around you and what you are feeling. Notice your breath as we meet each other here with the full gift of our attention. Showing up and being fully present for each other.
The topic of how to love yourself unconditionally may be a hard topic for some. Even if things are going well in our lives, we may have moments of being harsh with ourselves. When we notice the good things, there is often a “but” or underlying feeling of dissatisfaction with ourselves, or a doubt. That is in the best of times. In the worst of times, we are our worst critics, can be very good at blaming ourselves, be harsh, or filled with self-hate. We can be depressed about ourselves, and not want to face our thoughts. Noticing the stories about ourselves can be a very scary thing.
Why am I doing this webinar? When we notice all this self-criticism and doubt, we see there is an underlying problem for all of the habits we have worked on. Underlying them is how we feel about ourselves, what our story is about ourselves, how we treat ourselves, and our relationship with ourselves.
Why do we put off doing certain things?
- We put it off or procrastinate. Perhaps there is uncertainty and we put it off, going to distraction and comfort, instead of discomfort and believing in ourselves. There is a doubt in ourselves as to whether or not we are even up to the task.
- Then we start the cycle of self-blame and self-criticism. We have a bad feeling about these habits. We don’t actually believe in ourselves so we are only half committed. We don’t say out load what we are going to do. This sabotages our habit and reinforces our stories.
- The story about ourselves continues. If we didn’t have this story, we would adjust and get restarted again. If there was no story about yourself, there would be no problem and you would just start again. The story is the real problem. It is how we feel about ourselves that is the real problem.
This is an underlying problem for all habits, all struggles. Being critical and insecure with ourselves makes it difficult to have a secure relationship with anyone else. Lots of fear, stress, and anxiety are part of the stories we have about ourselves.
How do we work with it?
- Start by having some positive, friendly, compassionate feeling towards yourself. Have an intention of wanting the bad feelings about yourself to end. That feeling of wanting your difficulties to end is compassion. Try and feel friendly to yourself. This is the start of unconditional love. No one is going to love you in this way except yourself. If you can;t learn to love yourself this way you cannot expect anyone else to love you this way.
- Notice any pain you have about yourself. See if you can shift the feeling of pain to friendliness towards yourself. Smile inwardly. If that is difficult, try a sending and receiving practice or, in Tibetan Buddhism, a Tonglen practice. In a simple form, breathe in all this difficulty, envisioning it as a dark smoke. Breathe in self-hate or pain about myself. Breathe out compassion and love for yourself. Breathe in self-criticism, breathe out self-love. Direct that love to yourself. You are showing yourself that you can take in difficulty and transform it with your loving heart.
- Now do this sending and receiving practice with all those in this program. Breathe in the black smoke of difficulty and breathe out relief of that pain to everyone. Breathe in everyone’s pain with themselves, breathe out lightness, love, compassion, and relief for all.
- Practice this on a regular basis. What you are doing is a start to a relationship with yourself. We can always start again and begin a better relationship. Have the intention to do better. We are not perfect, but we can always try to do better. This is unconditional. Love yourself even with the flaws and messing up. Act as if you’ll be okay no matter what. Act as if you are trustworthy and you believe in yourself. Every time you notice self-doubt, love yourself for it. Do this with a smile and a softness in your heart. You are human. Love yourself for that.
This is not easy. As you struggle with it, love yourself for it. Wish for an end to your own suffering. This is the unconditional love I am talking about and it takes practice!
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- When I cry at my child, how can I behave to feel love for myself?
- I am having trouble starting to change to better habits. I want to start small but am having trouble starting every time. Any advice on how to start on a new, positive path?
- Is there a good way to believe in yourself when you are getting feedback from others that you are not quite as good as you want to be?
- Hey Leo, thanks to you I have created some great habits. The thing I am struggling to crack, is doing meaningful work, actually pursuing the dreams I start and then fall off. The stories get in the way and stop me from starting again. It feels like such a big mountain to climb so I don’t know where to start. So, I don’t start anywhere. Cue frustration with self.
- How do you deal with disappointment in yourself and others? Is it only possible through removing expectations? In that case, how do you maintain standards and accountability?
- I can’t remember the narrative I tell myself. I’m highly aware of it but if I try and write it down, then most of my thoughts disappear before I write them down.
*How do you love yourself unconditionally or stay motivated and positive in the moments of disappointment?