Bridging the gap between loving self and loving others; the three levels of self-love

Like the other posts in the series of articles on spiritual intelligence (where I have divided other topic or practices into three), in this article I want to outline three levels of self-love. One of the points in doing this is to illustrate how the practice of self-love goes through developmental stages as our consciousness evolves.

For self-love I am going to call these three stages the following; the first stage moves us from the “topdog undedog” mentality to self-acceptance. The second stage sees a movement from self-acceptance to self-love. The third stage sees a movement to transcendent or transpersonal levels of self love that I call “Love for self-as-the-World”.

Stage 1: From the “top dog underdog” mentality to self-acceptance – Actually, to get to the “top dog underdog” stage you have to have developed beyond the very low levels of relationship to self and life which are basically, “I suck” and “life sucks”!

When you get to the topdog underdog stage, basically you are continuously comparing yourself to others; If you are better than them (let’s say richer) then you feel good about yourself. If you are worse than them (let’s say poorer or less expensive car), then you feel bad about yourself, the worthless underdog. Life is spent see-sawing between feeling ‘better than’ others or ‘worse than’ others, self-loathing manifests easily, insecurity abounds. Make a mistake or do something dumb, and you will attack yourself big time!

So, the first level of self-loving sees a journey from this roller coaster ride of the topdog underdog mentality to a stable state of relationship to self. We are able to accept ourself as we are, without comparing ourself to others or giving ourself an overly hard time when our behaviour does not match our expectations.

This is NOT to say that we do not have goals and expectations for ourself, just that we do not easily move into states of self-criticism and self-loathing when those goals are sometimes not met. Actually self-acceptance when practiced rightly enables us to enhance our ability to achieve our goals and change our behaviours for the better.

Stage 2: From self-acceptance to self-love – This second stage sees the movement within our relationship to ourself from simplay accepting who we are to actively LIKING who we are. There is a big difference. Self-acceptance implies a tolerance which is obviously a good thing, and much better than getting caught in self loathing all the time. Liking ourself means that there is a sense of warmth, enjoyment, rejoicing and enthusiasm that we feel in our relationship to ourself. We become our own best friend, which is a tremendous asset as we are the person that we have to spend 24 hours of our day with!

Stage 3: Love for self-as-the-World – This stage actually looks at how our self-sense itself transforms as we evolve, and particularly as we meditate and spend time with and in expanded states of consciousness.

At this stage our self-sense has expanded to the degree that our idea of our “body” is actually Planet Earth, our sense of “mind and spirit” are the mind and spirit of Gaia, and all the living creatures contained within her (the Planets) consciousness.

As this stage self interest and the good of others are no longer in conflict. The self that we think of when we think “I love myself” is actually the Planetary Being, as opposed to the small self encased within the skin of this one small body. This third stage is what you might call the transcendent, transpersonal or enlightened stage of self-love, the end goal of the practise itself.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article,  but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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