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. It’s wild, but 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 the button 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. It’s based on where we come from.
We sometimes think we’re done and now we really love ourselves 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 love-thyself journey. For example, I thought I finished my love-thyself journey once, but then there were times I didn’t want to leave the house as I felt too much shame. I couldn’t wear the mask anymore that pretended to not feel shame. (Usually I wear a mask of confidence to hide how much shame I feel and I do it unconsciously.) That’s how strong it was. And if anyone understands shame, they know there is no button in any control room where you can just conveniently turn it off. Shame must be given its full expression and be embraced and felt over time before it will ever go away. Sometimes I had felt too fat to leave the house and even now I sometimes still feel that way. There is 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? If we still don’t love ourselves, IT’S OKAY! 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.
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 too fat to leave the house, if we shame and if we feel ugly, then honor that place. Talk about it to yourself. Write about it. (The use of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a good tool to help honor the negative feelings we have about ourselves and if you need help with EFT, let me know and maybe someday I’ll make a tutorial video.) 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.
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 bad 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.
–You don’t just love those who are just like you, but you can love those who are your opposite as well.
–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.