Are we programmed by what we tell ourselves? We have our subconscious feelings (how we really feel about ourselves) and the feelings we want to have about ourselves.
Many do not understand how programming actually works and that is why there is so much harmful self-defeating misinformation out there regarding advice on how to reverse self-sabotaging programs. Our culture keeps us stuck in the programming and I hope to address that here.
I felt this for quite some time but it came crystal clear to me a while back that how can we get to a place of self-love unless we honor those times of self-hate? Over half a year ago, I was writing in my journal while some really deep feelings were surfacing. “Why do you have to mess everything up?” “Why do you have to do everything wrong?” “I can’t do anything right” and “I hate myself” was the theme of my journal writing while I wept and wept and wept. It was a cathartic release. I realize now I had been addressing my shadow. I had always thought I loved myself and all my parts and while that is true with the conscious side of myself, that is not true about my shadow side. When we are healing, our shadows need to be faced and addressed and the feelings that reside there, eventually released.
We often tell one another to love themselves. The irony is that we almost shame and guilt people into doing it. It is often pushed aggressively in modern culture. “Just love yourself.” Well, no one can just “love the self”. There is no button to press where one can hit it and presto, we now love ourselves. If there is a little convenient button, pray tell where that button is and tell everyone! We all want to know! Anyway, life doesn’t work that simply. It’s a process, and it can be a long one. . And positive affirmations? Well, they can only take us so far….
We sometimes think we’ve mastered self-love and we’re giddy, overconfident and tell everyone. We might be under the illusion we love ourselves because we’re not feeling conscious self-hate, but if we are brutally honest with ourselves we might notice subtle behavioral clues by our own actions that humbly let us know we’re only just beginning the journey. For example, I thought I loved myself once, but then there were times I didn’t want to leave the house as I felt too much shame. Sometimes I had felt too fat to leave the house. I saw the way I judged and treated others and knew that was a reflection of me. (I’m talking about petty judgment here; not discernment). There was nothing wrong with me, however, and there is nothing wrong with you if you still don’t love yourself, FULLY. Probably only very very few people do actually love themselves. The rest of us either know we don’t or are deluding ourselves that we do as we don’t want to face the reason why we may not and/or we see a lack of progress and are ashamed of it. But that is all part of not loving ourselves. Look at the pressure and time constraints we place on ourselves! We put ridiculous amounts of pressure on ourselves to rush through our journey. What’s that all about? What’s the rush for? That’s a lot of things, but it’s not love. If we still don’t love ourselves, IT’S OKAY! Part of our self-loathing is in not allowing ourselves to be where we are. It’s OK to dislike yourself. And once you make peace with this, your programming will eventually be reversed. We need to accept and love that part of ourselves that still doesn’t love ourselves.
It’s really not that big of a deal to be an enemy of yourself considering what you were taught to believe about yourself, considering how you were treated as a child and also considering the culture we live in.
Authentic self-love may not be able to materialize until we learn to honor where we are and how we feel about ourselves at any given time. If we feel body-shame, if we feel stupid, if we feel inadequate in comparison to others, then honor that place. If you think you are worthless, embrace that. Talk about it to yourself. Write it down or say it out loud: “I hate myself” or whatever you ACTUALLY REALLY feel. And once we have felt and released all the icky feelings revolved around our self-loathing, eventually REAL self-love will actualize. But we have to be patient and realistic. It can take years and years…. And that’s OK.
You can look in the mirror and tell yourself, as Louise Hays suggests, that you love yourself and maybe even try faking it and see what happens. Sometimes it’s a good starting point, but eventually, your inner child might take you to the next level and demand that you start becoming brutally honest if the aforementioned doesn’t work. As the saying goes, “What you resist, persists”. If you resist your own self-loathing, it will persist. You can only lie to yourself so long before it doesn’t work anymore and now you must face how you actually feel. Fear not. I have done this and no, you will not get programmed. Remember you’re already programmed! You are just acknowledging the program by calling it out, facing it, owning it, admitting that is how you really feel. It’s in the cathartic emotional honest release of this that the program gets deinstalled, over time.
Don’t feel discouraged if it takes time for self-love to bloom. Everyone’s past is different. Don’t compare yourselves with others. For some it may take a long time, so honor that and embrace wherever you are. You are NOT wrong or bad if you feel badly about yourself. That is a PROGRESSIVE state compared to one who THINKS they love themselves, but really doesn’t. Brutal honesty is KEY. And I wish our culture would be more supportive with this process. Because if we skip over the self-loathing stages when they surface, we won’t ever get to the liberating stage of unconditional self-acceptance and love.
A checklist of how we know we truly love ourselves:
–You accept people as they are and where they are on their journeys. (This is not saying you should tolerate abusive people.)
–You don’t just appreciate those who are just like you, but you can appreciate those who are your opposite as well. (This is not saying you should tolerate abusive people.)
–You don’t condemn how you used to behave, think, feel, eat and live in general. You remember how you used to be and feel compassion and love for your old self.
How we feel about others is a perfect measuring stick as to how we feel about ourselves. When we love all parts of ourselves, only then can we appreciate all aspects of others including their own darkness and limitations. (This does not suggest you lose discernment in friendships!)
This process is tricky since we have more than one aspect to ourselves. And they might be conflicted with one another. We might think we like ourselves because intellectually, it makes sense, but another part of ourselves may not be on board. It’s one thing to think you love yourself and it’s another thing to actually EMBODY self-love because that goes beyond intellectualism. Now you are in synch with your soul self and some call this “self-actualization” and others “enlightenment”.