You don’t have to love yourself unconditionally before you can give or receive love. This turns the quest for self-love into yet another self-improvement project — an additional barrier to feeling whole and deserving of love.
The good news is that opportunities for love enter our lives unpredictably, whether or not we’ve perfected self-compassion or befriended our inner critic. When we develop our ability to love in one realm, we simultaneously nourish our ability in others, as long as we remain open to the flow of insight and compassion.
Just as a prism refracts light differently when you change its angle, each experience of love illuminates love in new ways, drawing from an infinite palette of patterns and hues. We gaze at an infant and feel our hearts swell, and when we notice it’s not the result of anything the baby has done, we can begin to imagine regarding ourselves the same way. We learn from any relationship in which we’ve made a heartfelt connection.
— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 112-113
[Photo: Sunset from Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, October 22, 2016.]