If you've got love in your heart, whatever you do from that moment out is likely to be right. If you've got that one true note ringing inside you, then whatever you do is going to be OK. It's love, always love.
- Ken Kesey

On Valentine's Day we focus on amorous love, seeking those special ways to express to someone close to us that we care for them. Oddly, loving and caring for others is often easier for many of us than feeling love and caring for ourselves.

Working as a psychotherapist, I have come to see and understand that this issue is often core to people's overcoming their problems. Finding and strengthening love for ourselves is essential in finding our ways out of the deep holes of hurt we carry inside us that are frequently covered over with layers of fears, distrusts and angers. Love is one of the most powerful energies we can muster on our paths of recovery from our wounds.

The film, music and advertising industries, and pop culture in general have capitalized on our searches and struggles to find erotic love. This has been so successful that it has colored the word love in the Western world with overtones of sexuality that may get in the way of our even saying that we love ourselves, which could be misinterpreted into auto-erotic implications.

The Greeks had words for love other than erotic love (which they called eros), such as:

- agape: selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications, especially love that is spiritual in nature (The Free Web Dictionary by Farlex).

- philia: the (non-sexual) love one holds for a friend. Aristotle gives examples of philia including: "young lovers, lifelong friends, cities with one another, political or business contacts, parents and children, fellow-voyagers and fellow-soldiers, members of the same religious society, or of the same tribe, a cobbler and the person who buys from him" (Wikipedia).

English, lacking terms for sub-categories of love, hyphenates the word love in order to identify these or other variants such as motherly-love, fatherly-love and brotherly-love. What I am addressing here is self-love. This is the unconditional acceptance of oneself, with all one's faults, foibles and issues that invite forgiveness of oneself.

Releasing resentments, angers and fears one holds towards others is a major challenge in therapy. What is often more difficult, however, are these same feelings one holds about one's own feelings and towards oneself.

The commonest example is in grief over the loss of someone close. Grief includes mixtures of feelings of sadness, abandonment and emptiness; anger and resentment; and guilt. These feelings alternate and may cycle through many repetitions, in unpredictable order.

'Betty' lost her father when she was 15 years old. He had a single-vehicle accident late at night, hitting a tree on a curve while driving home on wet roads from the bar. At first, Betty felt all of these feelings in relationship with her father: anger that he had finally ended a life marked by many previous alcohol-related misbehaviors and mishaps; anger that he had, essentially, abandoned her; guilt over having angry feelings towards her now dead father; sadness and grief that he was no longer there, in his sober moments, for paternal support and guidance;

After several months of sorting through and releasing these feelings, Betty came to a place of needing to forgive herself: for things she had said and done that might have added to his stress levels and perhaps contributed to his drinking more, and guilt over not having done more to be supportive to him; sadness over not having told him she loved and appreciated him for the ways he had cared for her; and angers at herself for her own quick temper. These self-blame issues were harder for Betty to process and release than her feelings about her father's behaviors.

In the end, Betty came to a place of acceptance of her father and of herself. A major help to Betty were repeated affirmations of love for herself, and a feeling that she was loved unconditionally by God, regardless of what she had done or not done, said or not said.

If you are working on problems of any sort, with approaches of any sort, you will find much benefit from adding affirmations of loving yourself and of being loved by others, including a sense of Divine love. Not all therapies include this, but it is a simple matter to develop affirmations of these sorts for yourself. WHEE invites users to include affirmations about self-love and Divine love in their self-healing.

Above all, remember that you have the power of love to help yourself as well as to help others.

There are many other aspects of Wholistic Healing that can contribute to changes in body, emotions, mind, relationships and spirit. In my 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist, I have found this to be one of the most potent elements contributing to self-healing.

Author's Bio: 

My bio summarizes my ongoing search for ever more ways to peel the onion of life's resistances, to reach the knowing (with the inner knowing of truth which has the feel of rightness) that we are all cells in the body of the Infinite Source.

While my unique area of expertise is spiritual awareness and healing, my principal work is through wholistic healing – addressing spirit, relationships (with other people and the environment), mind, emotions and body. I am using WHEE, a potent self-healing method, with children and adults who are dealing with PTSD and other forms of stress, psychological and physical pain, low self-esteem, cravings and other issues.

Daniel J. Benor, MD, ABIHM, is a wholistic psychiatric psychotherapist who blends in his therapy elements from intuitive and spiritual awareness, spiritual healing (as in Reiki and Therapeutic Touch), WHEE - Wholistic Hybrid derived from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), transactional analysis, gestalt therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, imagery and relaxation (psychoneuroimmunology), dream analysis, and other approaches. Dr. Benor has taught this spectrum of methods internationally for 35 years to people involved in wholistic, intuitive, and spiritual approaches to caring, health and personal development.

Dr. Benor founded The Doctor-Healer Network in England and North America. He is the author of Healing Research, Volumes I-III and many articles on wholistic, spiritual healing. He is the editor and publisher of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring - Online and moderator of WholisticHealingResearch.com , a major informational website on spiritual awareness, healing and CAM research.

He appears internationally on radio and TV. He is a Founding Diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine, Founder and Immediate Past Coordinator for the Council for Healing, a non-profit organization that promotes awareness of spiritual healing, and for many years on the advisory boards of the journals, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Subtle Energies (ISSSEEM), Frontier Sciences, the Advisory Council of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychotherapy (ACEP), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and the Advisory Board of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine (UK), Core reviewer for BioMed Central, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Online.

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