Who or what or how are we loving when we practice unconditional love? Are we loving terrorists? Are we loving people who have terrorized us in our life? Murderers? Rapists? Well…..we don’t love the human selves or behavior that perpetrate such atrocities….but we do love the Higher Self of each individual, the loving energy that they are, that we all are….but from which they are disconnected.

In spiritual work, we are often instructed or encouraged to love everyone. Seldom are we told about loving ourselves as well as everyone else. If we can’t see our light and love, it’s difficult to see the light of others.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

“No matter what you’re feeling, the only way to get a difficult feeling to go away is simply to love yourself for it. If you think you’re stupid, then love yourself for feeling that way. It’s a paradox, but it works. To heal, you must be the first one to shine the light of compassion on any areas within you that you feel are unacceptable.”
– Christiane Northrup

We are all a part of the same light, the same radiance.  It is a very difficult practice to love ourselves, much less others. If we are judgmental of our frailties and flaws, we most certainly will be judging others. As we develop compassion for our self, we can extend that compassion to others, as we all plod through this challenging human life.   The loving kindness and compassion we flow to our self fills us up and spills over to others….and we can’t flow from an empty well.

I have a practice I use to help myself and others see the light in our self and others.  This is a practice; it once took me three years to learn to love the Higher Self of someone who had betrayed and hurt me deeply. It’s a pretty simple practice, but I had to practice every day. Here’s how you do it.

Think of someone in your life who loves you unconditionally and you love them unconditionally (this could even be your kitty or dog or other four-legged loving being – sometimes it’s easier with them). Now, imagine their spirit beyond their visible or physical or human form. Imagine the pure light that makes up this loving being. Now imagine the light of the Universe behind this loving being. Next, see yourself as a part of this picture: all of the light of the Universe giving light to the being you are thinking of and that same light infuses you.  Now we are seeing the Higher Self, or true nature of our self and the one we love.  This is the easy part.

Now ask to see the light of the person you are having trouble loving. Not their human self – their radiant, loving, light-filled Spirit, their Higher Self. THIS is what we love. This may be difficult….usually we see the human self that is so unloving. So be willing to set their human self aside, and focus on their light. All of us, everything, comes from this Loving, radiant energy.  Even if a human is despicable, they still have this light, their Higher Self. They are just not making any effort to be the light, to allow that light to flow through them, or they deny it altogether. They make a choice for the least amount of Love.

When I do this practice, I often see the human of the person I’m working with as sitting in a parched, desolate desert….with no water or nourishment. When we disconnect from the Love we are, from our Higher Self, we are in dire straits. We are in pain. We are shut off from what feeds and supports us.  But the balm and regeneration of the Love we are is always available. We just may be so captured by our ego that we have completely forgotten there is more to us than our human form.

So we don’t love bad behavior. We don’t forgive all the terrible things that have been inflicted on us. But our true work is circulating love and good feeling, to our self first. So ultimately, we forgive our self for holding back our loving feeling. And then we love the Spirit, the Light, the Higher Self of the person who has wronged us, and  feel the succor and peace that comes from being willing to flow and be the Love that we are.  And we can ask the person – silently – to open their heart to the Love being offered. And they will or they won’t. It’s their choice and not our business.

When I do this practice, I also see the Higher Self  of the unloving person as reaching out to them with open arms….always available for loving connection, to remind them of who they truly are. We can’t truly be disconnected from our Spirit, our Higher Self, but through our free will choice to turn away from the Love we are, we are capable of acting in monstrous ways.

When we do this practice with an open and willing heart, it is amazing how we can eventually flow love to everyone and everything. I send clouds of loving light to everyone on the planet and beyond every day. And all the people in the world who sometimes make me crazy are wonderful opportunities for practicing love – daily!

You are Love. Be the Love you Are.  Just Love. Your beloved self first.