So, is love a discipline or isn't it?
So far I've proposed that it isn't (Part 1, Part 2) . However there are aspects of our self worth that create the free flow of love that do require discipline.
Loving ourselves doesn't come from doing nothing, we have to work at it. But that work isn't striving and beating ourselves up. It's a gentle, honest and determined work. It's a work that requires us to be painfully honest with ourselves on one hand, and incredibly gentle on the other.
We must stop and look closely at how we feel about ourselves - question our actions and reactions - our habits - the things we say to ourselves - what we think when we look in the mirror and so on. We must look at what has hurt us, abused us, broken us, to create these reactions and self image. It can be really painful indeed, especially where abuse is involved.
Then we "let go" and simply accept those things as who we are with no judgement. Yep, as ridiculous as it sounds, after being honest and recognising our lack of love, we simply accept it and stop struggling. When we have suffered abuse and trauma, this can be very scary and "triggering", but that's ok. We are allowed to feel the emotions of these things, but with the intention of "letting go", in the sense that we become the observer, rather than the participant. This requires the discipline of non-judgement, a gentle and respectful process, and often needs the help of trusted friends or compassionate counsellors.
Only then can we begin the important task of "re-programming" our minds, requiring the next step in discipline. We've spent years soaking up all the crap that creates a bad self image and allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by it all, so we have to reverse that process, and that takes some determination.
We all know that pretentious stuff about positive self talk, well guess what, it works! BUT, it only works when we have been honest and done all the ground work I've mentioned. The two sides go hand in hand - non-judgemental observation and acceptance of our past and the paradigm that has created, and the re-programming of our minds to the truth of our worth.
Positive self talk isn't some fluffy bullshit. It can be painful, and seem like you are going against everything your mind and even your body is telling you. But remember, you are actually reversing the brainwashing of a lifetime of pain and lies, so it WILL go against all you feel.
The basic idea is telling yourself all the time and in every way we can think of, that we are perfect, beautiful, awesome, loved, accepted, needed etc. We take the time to think of all the things we'd like to be and actually declare that we ARE those things. We look in the mirror and say (no matter how hard it is) "I love you!". Find people who love you exactly as you are, who feed your heart. Immerse yourself in positive books and media - anything that affirms your real value as a beautiful, loving creation.
This is discipline, and it can be bloody hard work! But the one thing it isn't, is trying to love others by doing "loving" things. It's not sacrificing our own desires for the needs of others. It's not putting god first, others second and ourselves last. It's not trying to be loving. But it IS disciplining ourselves to undo the lies that we have been told and have taken deep into our hearts.
You ARE love incarnate - live loved!