“Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” Jesus says (italics added). In focusing on loving our neighbor alone, we miss the part that will actually teach us to love. Elizabeth Gilbert suggests we think of ourselves as a small, scared, needy animal and do whatever it takes to care for that animal self to make it safe and healthy and help it thrive. As we feed and nurture and protect this inner animal, we help it become more what it truly is. And we don’t come home and yell at it or expect it to be a different animal altogether. We also don’t give it everything it wants without considering needs.
The guided prayer meditation below offers one way to reflect how we might love ourselves that we might come to love others better.