Love yourself first. This may sound egotistical, but it's not. After all, we've been taught in society to love our neighbor, to love our children, to love our partner, to love God, to love all beings, but somehow this person that we feed, exercise and bathe everyday, this person that is YOU got left on the sidelines.
And if YOU can't love YOU, then how can you expect to love anyone else or expect others to love you. Whenever you expect anything from something outside, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
After all, what if your partner doesn't behave in the way you'd like him/her to behave? OR What if you can't find a perfect partner? OR What if your children don't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if your family doesn't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if your co-workers or friends don't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if government or the media doesn't behave in the way you'd like them to behave? OR What if you decide that even God hasn't behaved in a way you'd like him to behave, that some terrible situation has happened to you and you wonder why, if there is a God, this has happened....and this list could go on and on.....
Trying to rectify things on the outside is futile. You can NEVER change anyone outside you, but you can certainly change yourself. You can certainly LOVE yourself. It all starts with YOU.
People have probably told you this. You've probably heard that it's important to love yourself, but do you? Do you REALLY love yourself. Do you treat yourself like a God? Do you feed yourself properly, give yourself exercise and proper sleep, are you gentle with yourself or do you beat yourself up when things don't go smoothly? Do you believe you are a worthy person, worthy of love and all the best things this world has to offer? Do you care for yourself and tell yourself, "I love you, you are important in this world."
In my husband's yoga class he sometimes tells the students that its good to say, "I am awesome!" The students laugh when he says this. But some of them have decided that they like this. One time I asked a yoga student in class "How are you?" and she responded by saying, "I am awesome, Yoon taught me that!"
Many people like to use this word "sacrifice." They say, "I have to sacrifice myself for my job, my children, my husband or my God." But real sacrifice doesn't come like this. It comes when you sacrifice yourself for YOU. When you decide that you will do everything in your power to love and take care of yourself no matter what happens. When you decide that no matter what happens you are committed to you, then something quite amazing occurs.
When you develop love, peace and happiness within you, it extends outward. It expands from you to all things. You are filled with it. Nothing can take it away, it becomes part of who you are. People might not like it, they might not like what you have become out of fear. You have become so bright and shiny and they don't feel like that so they don't like it, but you keep shining because that's who you are. That's who you've become through taking care of YOU.
The amazing thing that occurs is that this love that comes from you is boundless. It knows no distinctions. It is not selfish or self-seeking. It encompasses all people and all things. You become content and fulfilled within yourself. You are satisfied and grateful for the moment, however it may unfold. With this love for yourself, you are boundless too. There is no limit to what you can do. When you love yourself AS YOU ARE first and take care of this human being that is YOU, the one you carry around day after day, then you will be complete and all the love in the universe will be yours.