I have three quotes I’d like to share with y’all because I feel they all go together.

  • Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. – Matthew 22:39
  • If you judge them, you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa
  • Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

I’m sure you can already see what my message is: love more and judge less. Simple enough, right?

I’m going to be asking multiple questions throughout my talk that I encourage you to answer in your mind.

How many of you apply the concept of love more and judge less to yourself? How many of you love yourself? How many of you are hard on yourself? How many of you would hesitate to raise your hand to answer a question because you’re afraid of what others will say or think about you? How many of you kept your hand down in school even when you knew the answer because you were afraid of what others thought? Or you were afraid of being wrong? How many of you fear what you think about yourself?

If you are so busy judging yourself, what time do you have to love yourself? I’m sure all of you have a mirror in your house. How many of you complement yourself? How many of you see how beautiful you truly are? Your wrinkles and greying hair show you are alive and getting older. Aging is a gift not guaranteed to anyone. How many of you celebrate you are alive? Your cellulite is beautiful. Your scars are beautiful. Your love handles are beautiful. Our idea of the perfect human body changes by the decade. Don’t let society convince you your body is anything less than an amazing miracle. Your body is a special combination of stardust that forms you. Your body is your friend who ensures that you make it as best as you can to the next day. Sure, we all get sick and, yes, disease exists. And yes, we all eventually die due to our body shutting down. But no one said your body is perfect. Your body is your friend. Love your body. Give yourself at least one complement every day. You’ll be astounded by the difference it makes.

How many of you celebrate your accomplishments? Do you acknowledge them with the same vigor you do your failures? Why not? When you fail, do you focus on berating yourself or improving yourself? Did you know that failure is your best teacher? When you fail, you have the opportunity to grow as a person if you focus on what you need to improve without condemning yourself for failing. Do you celebrate the fact that you tried? I have failed tests. I have played sports where I’d try to score a goal and miss. I’ve lost games. I’ve failed at businesses. I’ve failed in relationships. Each time, I had the opportunity to either grow from the failure or withdraw completely from the activity and never try again.

By writing this, I know there’s a huge chance I’ll mess this up. I may use the wrong words or give terrible examples. I could fail to get my message across. And that’s okay. I’m glad I tried. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be imperfect. Embrace the flaws. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t living. If you judge yourself, you have no time to love yourself.

So, why do I keep emphasizing self-love when the quotes I picked talk about loving others and not judging them? Because we don’t emphasize the important of self-love. Because if you don’t love yourself and have compassion for yourself, how can you truly love others?

I was someone who didn’t truly learn to love myself until a couple of years ago. From the time I was around 18, I pretended to love myself, but it wasn’t sincere. Now, I love myself, flaws and all. I’ve noticed with this self-love, I’ve developed a depth of love for others I had never experienced before. Does it mean I never loved anyone or that my love for others before wasn’t sincere? No. I loved to the best of my ability with what I had and that’s great. My capacity to love before was different. The level I could love was different. Before, my love was a puddle compared to the river it is now.

And even with my improvements, I’m fully aware that I still have more ways I can improve and develop as a person. I hope to one day be an ocean of love. I embrace my journey and the fact that I will always have room to grow all of my life. When I first realized I would never reach a final level of growth, it was daunting. Now, I view it as an important aspect of life. When you view growth as a cultivating experience (or in videogame terms “leveling up”), it makes it seem like a better experience than referring to it as “work.”

How many of you hesitate or won’t try certain things because you fear judgment? Do you regret not doing certain things? Do you regret not speaking out? Do you regret not raising your hand?

Well here’s something to keep in mind. Another reason I emphasize self-love is this: the people who judge you are also judging themselves. I feel the verse “do not judge or you too will be judged” has nothing to do with an outside force judging us. It’s a continuation of our judgment. We are judging ourselves so viciously that we, in turn, find others to judge so we can deem our situation “not that bad.”

“Well, sure, I’m addicted to caffeine, but John Doe is a heroin addict, so I’m not that bad.”

“I got a 46 on my exam, but Jane Doe got a 40, so I’m not that dumb.”

Do you see the pattern? Do you ever do that? I used to quite frequently.

If you fear judgment of others, you need to realize a few things:

  • People who love you won’t condemn you. They may talk about you, but everyone talks about everyone. I guarantee all of you talk about people. It’s nothing personal. Gossip is part of life.
  • People who judge you are like that with everyone, including themselves. It’s still nothing personal. They are trying to make themselves feel better. They are trying to cover their fears and insecurities by distracting themselves with others’ flaws and drama. Imagine being trapped in that kind of mindset and that kind of negativity ALL DAY. It’s not fun. Trust me. That was me for a couple of decades.

The people who judge you are suffering because they aren’t able to be bathed in self-love or love of others. Their judgment, their insecurities, their emotional baggage, and their childhood scars wrap their hearts up like a fortress. They subconsciously think holding these hurts and using them as barriers will protect them from ever experiencing pain again. Instead, all it does is prevent them from giving and receiving love to its full extent and power. Their fortresses and their protective layers are actually a self-made prison.

You could take it a step further and argue they’re unable to truly feel God’s love. Even if you aren’t religious (to be honest, I’m not), you could say they don’t feel how interconnected we all are. Whether we come from God or Stardust or both, we all come from the same source. We are all in this together. We are all connected. They don’t see this. They feel alone in a hostile and unforgiving world.

Life is a contact sport. It’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I have met and known many people who had terrible childhoods who still view the world as a loving place. It is possible to enjoy life no matter the circumstance. It isn’t always easy and, sometimes, you need pain so you can get moving to put yourself in a better position than you are now.

Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Soul pain is no different. It’s a way for the spirit to tell you something needs to be addressed. Pain isn’t the enemy. It’s our honest, blunt, to-the-point friend who is looking out for our well-being.

Another reason I talk about self-love is because if we truly love ourselves, we wouldn’t end up in some of the predicaments we do. We wouldn’t subject ourselves to the abuse we do. There are people who have toxic family and friends. They focus so much on honoring their parents that they forget to honor themselves by not subjecting themselves to abuse. Stressful environments make you sick. Stressful environments shorten your life. Period.

For me, if I had truly loved myself, I wouldn’t have entered a toxic relationship. Or, I would have left the relationship sooner than I did.

Imagine if our children were taught and practiced self-love. How many would succumb to peer pressure regarding drugs or sex or vandalism? How many would dodge unhealthy relationships and friendships? How many wouldn’t engage in violence or bullying? How many would be able to withstand bullying and stand up to bullies? How many would be more engaged in school because they are unashamed of learning?

For adults, how many would stand up to social injustices? How many would put more into spreading love and good deeds? How many would focus on spreading equality? How many would try to reunite our world and embrace our differences instead of trying to force everyone to be the same?

Self-love is not just some New Age concept. It’s a necessity for survival and for a better quality of life for everyone. To love yourself is to empower yourself. If you feel empowered and are filled to the brim with love, do you think you would have more to pass along to others?

So, how can we change these judgy people? Simple. You can’t. People will only change because they want to. You can, however, create a safe space for everyone in your life to grow and thrive. You can love them.

And you can love a person from a distance. If the relationship is toxic, don’t stay in it. Don’t subject yourself to pain for the sake of that person. You are not here to be their scapegoat. You are not here to be their punching bag. Separate from the toxic person. Offer love from a distance, but don’t engage. Offer forgiveness and compassion, but don’t interact.

How can you improve?

  1. Have compassion for others, including those who will never change. That’s their life path and their journey. It’s not meant to be the same as yours.
  2. Respect others and their differences.
  3. Tell yourself you love yourself. Say at least three nice things to yourself every day.
  4. Tell your pets, family, and friends you love them.
  5. Spend time with those who make you feel better.
  6. Laugh and spread laughter.
  7. Find books, YouTube videos, movies, and other things that inspire you and make you happy.
  8. Write, draw, paint, talk, or find a healthy way to release your pain.
  9. Volunteer or somehow get involved with groups in your community that promote compassion and respect for everyone regardless of their differences.
  10. Talk to people who are different than you. Read books about cultures and practices that are different from your own. The more you learn about others, the more you realize how much we are all the same. You’ll realize that the “us” versus “them” mentality is no more logical or healthy than the “me against the world” mentality.

You don’t have to use any of these ideas. They’re just practices that worked for me.

Be patient with yourself. My spiritual journey consciously started when I was 12. I’ve detoured multiple times. I’ve climbed Fool’s Hill more than once. There have been many times where I was a know-it-all, judgmental, condemning, mean, and unforgiving. There are times where I don’t treat people with love and compassion. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of times down the road where I’ll lapse again. That’s the way life goes.

I’m 30 and I didn’t feel like I had truly loved myself until I was 29 and, as I mentioned before, even with my improvements, I still continue to grow.

So, be patient and have compassion for yourself.

And, most importantly, love yourself.