Tamara Alferoff facilitated a memorable discussion at ConsciousCafe on the topic of Self-Love, on a freezing cold snowy night in London, at the end of February.

She started by telling us that when she googled the words ‘self-love’, there were 54 million results for it. Such a huge number.

Why are so many people wanting to explore the meaning of self-love at this time?

Tamara posed a number of ideas which we explored together.

She suggested that society’s obsession with the topic reflects back to us what is happening in our Western world today.  Many people no longer experience the loving stability of their family as in previous times. The women’s movement has raised womens’ self-esteem but men now feel destabilised. Elderly people no longer feel part of the family unit while too many children are in care. Western society has lost its respect for mothering and for the importance of nurturing. Even people in solid relationships feel unworthy, not good enough in some way.

In addition we have few leaders and role-models in all walks of life who we respect. We live in a time of great change and upheaval and comfort ourselves with shallow gossip from the media. Positive politics does not seem to exist.

The topic of self-love in magazines focuses on pampering ourselves in spas with wine and selfies. But is that what we mean by self-love? Is it what we really want or need?

Where is the mirror that mirrors back to us that we are worthy, good human beings?

The group were fascinated by the deep connection of the ideas around self-love and its alignment with the changing social values in our contemporary Western society. It left us all with many important questions to reflect on.

After this powerful introduction, the group began to share their ideas and their wisdom.  There were divergent viewpoints about the meaning of self-love.  Does a lack of self-love illuminate our shadow? How do we love people and their shadows? Perhaps the real challenge with self-love is to find our own shadow, meet it and integrate it?

Is our lack of self-love also caused by a lack of meaning in our lives? Does too much material wealth cause people to lose their humanity and compassion and respect for themselves?  Do we struggle with self-love when we do not have a powerful purpose in our lives to get us out of bed in the morning?

Perhaps the key to self-love is being totally present with ourselves on all occasions even though that is not always possible to achieve.

After much more discussion and exploration, we ended the evening with one of the participants sharing Elizabeth Jennings’ poem Delay and a gorgeous song which Tamara had downloaded for us: I Love Myself the Way I Am  (Jai, Alice Altink)

Tamara’s parting gift was this lovely quote from a friend:

Self-love is the acceptance of who I am in the given moments. This means both times I see things I like about myself and those times when I am not a big fan.

Huge thanks to Tamara for her deep reflection and sharing on this powerful topic and to everyone who contributed to this memorable evening.