Great Mind

How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways …

By  | 
GUNAS New York

A New Twist on a Classic Sonnet

Ah! It’s February—the month of love. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, a dozen red roses, and sexy lingerie are some of the standard gifts we bestow upon our special someone to express the depth of our love. These are the gifts of the 21st century. But these weren’t always the Valentine’s Day must-haves. Back in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s day, in the 1800s, sonnets were one of the ways to communicate love to your soulmate and she certainly wrote a memorable one with Sonnet 43, better known as How Do I Love Thee? To this day, this sonnet is still considered one of the ultimate expressions of love for another.

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

Here’s the interesting thing, when I read this poem recently, I read it as How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways. I was a bit surprised. It just came out like that. Maybe it was my soul self-reading it to me. However it happened, this simple shift of one word, from thee to me, made all the difference in the world. I stopped to reflect on this new version of an old classic for a moment. I wondered to myself, What if we read this love poem to ourselves? How would our lives look and feel to us? What if we put the same effort into loving ourselves that we put into loving others?

I realized long ago that most of us don’t love ourselves. In fact, I am not certain we really even know what that means or what that looks like. I know I didn’t love myself. I was focused more on loving someone else. Then, one day, I started questioning why that is. Here’s what came to me.

From the time we are young, we receive messages about the world, about others and about ourselves. One of the deepest messages, that quickly turns into a belief, is that we are not good enough. This creates a central theme of self-neglect, which is another way to say a lack of self-love. Treating ourselves in non-loving ways can include poor eating, drug use, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, lack of sleep, and lack of peace. We even create unnecessary stress through trained over-reacting to the tiniest things. All of these non-loving, self-neglecting tactics only serve to validate the belief that we are not good enough, or that there is something lacking in us. However, beliefs are not truths and this belief is certainly not true. This is something each one of us has to become aware of within ourselves and then correct it. How do we correct it? By no longer believing in it.

 

Trained to Look Outside Instead of Inside

Our training for life provided us with many concepts. Some of those included love, but many of them didn’t. Much of our training focused on what is outside of us, rather than what is inside of us. This poor training creates issues for us, especially where love is concerned. As we focus on fulfilling our lives with all things external—people, places and things—we often completely miss the most important part of our life—the internal. It’s here where love lives, in the heart-center, in the authentic soul self. Tuned into this more often, we begin to experience the authentic self that we have always been, which is the same as pure love.

Based on our belief of inadequacy and our focus on the external, most of us spend more effort loving someone else than we do loving ourselves. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love others, but it does mean that in order to truly and purely love others, we must first love ourselves. This is because when we don’t love ourselves, we are forced to find love elsewhere, often through desperation, rather than stumbling upon love naturally and authentically since feeling unloved is unbearable. In this scenario, we aren’t motivated by love, though—we’re motivated by fear—the fear of inadequacy. Motivated by fear, we search to find a lover through a “marketing campaign” and then a strong “sales pitch”. The end goal is to find someone to relieve of us of the pain we feel inside from not loving ourselves. None of us deserves love from this perspective.

It’s time for us to go within to find the love that is woven into the very fabric of our being. From this point of view, there is no inadequacy and there is no external searching. This way we get the benefit of loving ourselves and loving another purely, without conditions or expectations. How do we love ourselves?

Self-love is often thought of as a weekly massage, a night out with the girls or a long, hot bubble bath. These things are certainly examples of self-care. But to truly love ourselves, we have to stop buying into the belief that we are not good enough. That means we also have to stop buying into the stories in our mind about inadequacy—they are not true. None of us is inadequate. We need to stop calling ourselves names, acting like a victim in any situation and doing anything that is self-harming or self-neglecting. When we do, the love that we are will shine through automatically. This is the love we are really searching for.

 

So, now if we read Sonnet 43 with that simple, yet most powerful change of one word, we have a completely different, and deeper, sense of the expression of love that we are.

 

How do I love me? Let me count the ways

I love me to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love me to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love me freely, as men strive for right.

I love me purely, as they turn from praise.

I love me with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love me with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love me with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love me better after death.

 

When we love ourselves first, there is no longer any fear—there is only freedom to love everyone, including ourselves. Let’s take some time during this month of love and put forth the same effort to love ourselves as we do to love others. This means we will overlook any so-called flaws, spend more time complimenting ourselves and stand by ourselves with total support, like a rock. It is time.

 

 

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As a practitioner of energy healing, a Reiki Master, an animal communicator, a bodybuilder and a safety risk manager, I have promoted personal safety, high-quality nutrition and superior health for more than 25 years. My work has been published in many magazines and newsletters since 1994 and I have spoken at many seminars and workshops during that time. My dedication to others has been centered on personal empowerment, education about healthy foods and support for excellent health for each person with whom I have come in contact. Through personal experience and challenges, I understand what it takes to get off the hamster wheel of life and reconnect to our truth – the center of our true power, true peace, exceptional health and more love than we ever dreamed possible. We are all connected and we all need healing. Love is the key to that healing.

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