What if I find it hard to like myself?
Many of us find the first stage of the Metta Bhavana the hardest to do, probably because some of our societal conditioning trains us to think that liking ourselves is bad. In fact we have a whole page on this very subject.
The first thing is that it’s very important to learn to like ourselves. If we don’t like ourselves we’re never going to truly love others. Nor are we likely to ever be very happy, simply because we don’t value our own happiness.
So never skip the first stage of the Metta Bhavana practice. Always do it!
If you start the first stage and don’t feel much, then don’t panic. Stay calm. It’s perfectly normal to feel very little. I remember when I was first learning meditation I spiraled down into a pit of despair because I didn’t see any metta for myself being developed. But it’s a slow process. It works, but it’s not a quick fix.
Think about things you do well. Think about achievements in the past or present. Think about what other people like in you. This will help you to realize your own good qualities.
Reflect: do you want to be happy? That desire to be happy is metta. Probably you don’t appreciate your own self-metta because it’s too familiar and close to you. So you may well have plenty of self-metta but not realized it. Sometimes we have a habit of overlooking the obvious.
Think about the qualities you would like to develop: the achievements you would like to attain in the future. What really matters to you? I’m willing to bet that you came up with some pretty high ideals for yourself. If you can have such worthy ideals then you must be, to some extent, a worthy individual. Respect that in yourself. If you do it’ll help you to develop those qualities and attain those achievements.