“Love” is one of the most wrung out and misunderstood concepts in philosophy and self-help teachings. And most pop songs (except for Prince. He could grind on the term “love” any which way and I’d say it was philosophical perfection.)

If “love” is confusing, then “SELF-love” can be mystifying. So I’m pressing pause on the self-love conversation to insert the word compassion… The feel of “compassion” is more direct and melting for most of us. So let’s start there. Because…

Being compassionate with ourselves is what DEEP self-love is about. The kind of love that’s bigger than self-care Fridays or taking a nap.

It’s easy to love yourself when your hard work is paying off. I’m awesome! I sooo have my shit together. I love myself.

But how about this: I just lied to them. I love myself anyway. I cheated. I love myself anyway. I was an arrogant asshole. I love myself anyway. I want to lose twenty pounds, I even have a weight loss coach, but I just polished off that loaf of banana bread (and it wasn’t even gluten free). I love myself anyway. I’m still in agony over our break up…we broke up two years ago. I love myself anyway. I’m sooo stuck. I love myself anyway.

At that moment, when you need to apply light to the dark, it’s going to feel uncomfortable, maybe even forced…undeserving, arrogant, irresponsible, excessive. You might feel guilty. But that’s exactly where the transformation occurs—loving what seems unlovable.

If you can muster some tenderness for yourself when you think you’re at your worst—at precisely the time when you think you deserve criticism or punishment––then you’re on the way to stable self-esteem. This doesn’t mean that you don’t take responsibility for being a jerk or breaking promises…

Immediate compassion for your missteps gives you the strength to take the next best step.

True self love transmutes self hatred into mindfulness…and from mindfulness, kindness flows. In all directions and always forward.