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Staying With Yourself

Staying With Yourself

“The finest thing in the world is knowing how to belong to oneself.” -Michel de Montaigne

I am convinced that the most significant and meaningful change we can make within all of our relationships begins with our foundational ability to relate to our selves. This teaching is ancient and lies at the heart of every spiritual discipline. The Buddha summed it up saying:  “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” Not only is our capacity for self-love the most challenging healing for most of us to master, but our inattention to this critical inner struggle is often the silent and invisible root of what goes wrong in our other personal and intimate relationships.

I know that I am not alone in my misinterpretation of life’s painful events as something wrong with me. I sometimes wonder if there is not some universal weak link in the human genetic code that predisposes us to the long and sticky tendrils of self-doubt and unworthiness that seem to catch us in our most difficult moments or in our most challenging relationships. We routinely abandon ourselves in our moments of need as we fall for the false and erroneous belief that we are separate, unworthy and unlovable. We witness the falsehood of this thinking for those we love, but often miss it in ourselves.

I am not advocating for more self-esteem here. In many ways, our drive towards self-esteem is one of the trap doors we slip through, in a constant effort to measure up to some external standard, or worse still, a comparison with someone else’s digital profile. Real self love and acceptance comes through striving for self compassion. It begins with simple practices like giving yourself the opportunity to accept life experiences without having to like it. Instead, we often resist what life is giving us and make up elaborate stories that justify our resistance yet unknowingly get us stuck.

What we resist persists. It is easy to give up our story lines when we recognize that a deep part of our identity gets attached to what we refuse to accept in life and the more we push something away or try to run from it, the more our sense of self is linked to the experience or relationship.

Many people cannot tease out the pain of the experience from the resistance they have to it. We confuse the judgments we make about ourselves and the situation with the experience itself. The emotional layers melt together and what gets sacrificed is our ability to hold onto ourselves. Learning to release our storyline of judgments for a practice of mindful attention opens us to an ability to relate to our own pain. This practice enlarges our sense of self and the overwhelming story line turns into feelings that are manageable. We find that life and relationships are workable when we are not trying to escape from painful feelings, but want to create the internal space to experience them, which allows them to change.

The work of cultivating enough self-love to create and sustain healthy intimate relationships is directly proportional to your ability to have compassion for yourself and your life. Giving up our resistance to the way things are and the aspects of ourselves that have yet to evolve is a mighty first step.  It opens the door where life changes by itself and gives us a soft place to come home. Healing your life and relationships begins in your own heart. No one deserves it more than you.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


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12:52PM PDT on Jul 15, 2015

Good article, although I would have appreciated more specific how-tos on the recommended actions.

6:56AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

12:37AM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Some thought-provoking statements in this article.....

7:32PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

What an absolutely wonderful article. Full of love, power and wisdom - so true.

Thankyou Wendy! xo

12:08PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Reminds me of shadow work in some ways, of learning to love and accept even those things you have rejected about yourself. Radical self-love is something that is a challenge for most Western people. I know it's not easy for me.

1:45AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012


6:23AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

There is so much emphasis on how we are perceived by people in todays society. To love ones self is often portrayed as a negative. I always have tended to put others first and myself last. Perhaps not a good thing. I care deeply about people and close friends do care for me. No one is perfect or ever will be perfect yet we strive for perfection in many ways. I accept the way I am and my faults. I also accept that because I am blind society rejects me. It still hurts but there is nothing I can do to change that part of life. In many ways because a person is different they can never be able to love themselves because the stigma in society prevents them from doing that. I like who I am as a person. I am soft, easy going, been used, abused, taken dvantage of. I will never change or become bitter, twisted or full of hatred. I will always respect people for who they are and not how they look. I'm not sure where this ideology comes from, perhaps our parents perhaps from a higher sphere. No one really knows. Being true to one's self is as important as loving one's self. Being honest I don't think I could love myself. Accepting myself for who I am is the best i can do. I'm not condemning anyone who can love themselves in any way. Unfortunatly being disabled society and people have a major impact on my life. Others determin my future.

12:53AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012


11:14PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

The greatest love of all, to oneself, I completely agree. Love the one who loves you. Forget those who forget you. Dont be "plan B" to those you considered "plan A" Be your best friend. Dont miss the one who doesnt miss you. Its healthy to learn to delete old files, step on the past or it will step on you.

3:20PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

the biggest lesson i learned in life was unconditional love and acceptance for myself then i learned that there are no mistakes, just choices that lead you to harder lessons to learn, in the end it makes you a better person.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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