What Loving Yourself Really Means


We all lie.

There is outright lying and then there is the more common sister of lying which is deception.  We want to be perceived as better than other people and we are afraid to be found out.  We look down on some people to assess and ultimately declare, like a shaky flag on stolen land, our own worthiness.  We figure out ways to appear more together, more knowledgeable or more perfect-seeming.  If you aren’t like this, congratulations, your ego it doing a really good job at covering up your lies and deception with more lies. Basically, you’re in a really good game of who’s lying to who? Me, myself or I?

“Hold up, hold up. I am a good person!” You say. “I hold doors for people! I put others before me, often! I barely to never lie and when I do (which is really, really rare), it is always to protect someone else!”

Listen, I hear you.  AND I don’t believe you and you shouldn’t believe you either.

Why?  Because on the other side of that lie, is love.  True self love.

As one of the more wacky (and brilliant) spiritual teachers Matt Kahn says, the ego’s motto is “cheat to win” and we all have an ego. Sometimes the ego is so developed that it literally disguises its voice for your own, concealing its very existence. It tells you that you are special and that somehow you managed to get by without any shadow.  You are not dark. No. Other people are dark like killers and thieves and mean girls, but you are different.  Or perhaps you simply think you grew out of that. The reality is that everyone has an ego, right now.

It’s part of our journey to reconcile…




  • restore friendly relations between.

“she wanted to be reconciled with her father”

synonyms: settle one’s differences, make (one’s) peace, make up, kiss and make up, bury the hatchet, declare a truce


…with our ego while our soul knows we are all one and derive meaning that we appear separate.

The ego is the sense of self as separate and when that dies, we literally die.  When we return to a state of oneness with the Universe we are no longer a boy or girl, white or black or Asian, or a banker or painter or writer… or all the other things that make us feel different. Special. Our ego’s job is literally to protect us from death and keep our specialness alive.  The ego is our in built body guard.  Our ego will “cheat to win” to keep us safe, fed, happy and alive.  Just turn the other way while it does its nasty business. Or! Turn towards the beast, kiss, make up and be truly liberated from its hold on you.

As I started to truly grok this concept and as my ego started to step out from its hiding place, my therapist would often say, this is the side of you I think we need to have reverence for. We need to love on the part of you that was just protecting you.  We need to hug that ruthless side of you. “What?  No. I am an embarrassment. My ego is an embarrassment. I shouldn’t have been so selfish and manipulative.” I would think.  I have come to see that my therapist was driving home a greater truth in her persistent attempts to get me to hold my errors in high regard.

You can’t love yourself until you know yourself.

I used to lie at work.  I thought it was important I appear perfect so I told my clients white lies so they would love me and be happy that I never messed up and they would see me as an overachiever.  I would rather take less commission on a job than ever admit I made a mistake.  I had no idea how much I was hiding, from others, and myself.

Do you sometimes tell people you are “right around the corner” when you are really ten blocks away? Do you make up excuses for why you need to cancel going to a party? Do you cover yourself quickly, telling others a half truth when you realized you f-ed up and forgot to do something? Do you find yourself in defense mode?  Do you claim to know something and moments later your brain informs you that you got it wrong but you feel in too deep so you keep that part to yourself, going with the original proclamation, even though at this point you are pretty sure you got it all wrong. Oops. Shame. Do you feel bad about a fight you got into with a friend, so you tell your other friend the whole story… but really you are only telling your side.  Are you cheating a little, to win?  Just this one time. Or, perhaps you partake in a different kind of ego trick… do you intentionally make yourself small in the eyes of others? Do you belittle yourself so no one thinks you have a big head? Are you complaining a lot so others will sympathize with you?

Good. You’re human.

And so am I.  Being aware of myself is a full-time job and while I make it a practice to stay aware, I still slip up and do these things too.  The difference is, now I think it’s funny. I don’t judge myself.  I went from unaware of myself to aware and shameful, landing at aware and understanding.  Enter self love.  I can see my “shadow side” or my ego in action and after it’s done its dirty work, I give her a hug (as my therapist suggested) then try to clean up her well-intended mess. It’s like living with a really cute pit bull and instead of hiding her in the back yard you take her out into the neighborhood – with a strong leash. You flaunt her and then laugh at her indiscretions.

PHOTO: @hbower99 / Via Twitter: @hbower99



Jesus said “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…

As I learned from Adyashanti’s brilliant book Resurrecting Jesus, the English Biblical term translated as “sin” or “syn” from the Biblical Greek and Jewish terms which originate from words that mean missing the mark.

It sounds very different, and way less damming to think that we perhaps just “miss the mark” versus sin, doesn’t it?  With this interpretation it’s easier to imagine a kind of self forgiveness; when you miss the mark just pick up your arrow and try again. No deep self loathing necessary with each misstep.  And as a result we blame less and understand more.  We have the ability to empathize with others, we no longer actually see ourselves as superior and we can in turn give others a pass, loosen the reigns or set down the stone, as the case may be.

In Buddhism, there is a chant:

Buddha nature pervades the whole universe existing right here and now. I dedicate the merit of this practice to all sentient beings. Together we realize liberation.

That last part is key. Together we realize liberation. Compassion for oneself and one’s own blunders leads to forgiveness of others.  It is when we dig in, shine a light on, and understand our own slip-ups that we move closer to feeling the oneness, not with our minds, but with our hearts. When we finally see and love ourselves, we see all others as no different, and it is then when we dismantle the wrong perception that we are distinct.  Oh, the irony. I know…  And yet it’s such a brilliant design.  Right?


Featured image photo credit: Pexels.com


Leave a Comment

  • Judith Smith

    Thank you for a brilliant article. I put myself down a lot to appear “small”. It made me laugh about the Pit Bull, I’ve just got a Staffie and she’s a bit mad!

  • Sunita

    Love x

  • Veronica

    Thank you for the article. Normally, I would feel ashamed of admitting that I do both the lying or belittling of myself. But, I really love how you explain what is happening and how to recognize it rather than judge ourselves or hide it from ourselves. The self-love will actually help with our ability to love everyone else but we are so busy denying these thoughts and feelings we have so that everyone will love us. Thank you for a new way to look at things!

    • admin_tahra

      Yes exactly! Thanks for the comment. We truly can’t love ourselves until we know ourselves and it starts by seeing (with a certain detached curiosity) all that we do! It is then that we start to have more compassion for others. It’s really such an incredible evolution we can go through when we start to wake up… a dance with ourselves and others. Sending love! X