The Swift Subtlety Of Self-Deprecation (And How To Self-Love Radically)

woman spreading arms near body of water
Fernando Brasil / Unsplash

I am radiant, I breathe in. I am worthy, I breathe out. Sometimes, these words flow through meditation and mind as an easy truth I never doubted. They sift through the psyche when storms are at bay, when confidence reigns, and when balance is felt. Other times, I force them into existence as if to make myself feel something positive — something better than where I find myself. Something more enlightened of me. They sometimes come out as words that I, quite simply, have little faith in.

This awareness of the coming and going of self-worth and confidence comes to me as the heat of the pimple subsides — after countless mirror checks, ice cube-cloth bundles, and minor incisions made into the volcano I wished would just erupt already! It comes to me after words of self-deprecation and criticism have diminished.

It has me wondering about beauty — about what we have been raised to believe beauty looks like. About the fact that we have been raised to believe solely in its physical appearance, holding reverence for its external qualities exclusively. How the importance rests in how something appears, not how it truly is. Is beauty something that exists only if recognized by something outside of us, or can it be a feeling that is experienced without preconceptions, norms, and guidelines?

It is worth a long moments pause to consider how swiftly our self-confidence and perception can shift. In my own journey, these shifts are triggered by, and most apparent during, breakouts. When a pimple arises, I instantly question, quite subconsciously, my beauty — and ultimately, my worth. When skin is crystal clear, there is an overwhelming inner feeling of radiance, self-love, and worth. The difference is quite remarkable — less so in appearance and more so in how I perceive who I am, what I deserve, and what I am capable of. Now, in the wake of the storm, I can quietly explore the question: does the small change in the external warrant such dramatic shifts in the inner world? What does this say about what I believe to be true?

Many of us carry it, some hotly held fear of the body, or some aspect of it, as it exists in its natural expression. Sometimes there are numerous points of scrutiny — the skin, the lines, the hair, the colour, the tone, the texture, the shape, the movement, the mobility, the wildness — that spark the experience of shame. As if we are only enough if some thing were to change. As if we are not worthy of love in our current state of being. The self-deprecation is subtle, encouraged by the surface-loving world we find ourselves in. If we dig deeper, can we ask: how do I feel? What simmers beneath the outer layer? Who am I beyond what the world has taught me to think about myself?

Despite mental awareness that worth is not equated with physical beauty, I continue to find remembrance of this misguided reality in my body. It seeps out when I am challenged with some perceived imperfection, asking me to look, again, at the beliefs I hold about women, value, and beauty.

As we begin to take note of these subtle shifts within, we start to recognize these subconscious forces for what they are. We gain greater insight into the things that have shaped and shifted us throughout our years. The necessity is not to force them into non existence, but rather to witness them and question their hidden meaning, lesson, and ultimate purpose. What is it that they — these thoughts, these perceived imperfections, and these current beliefs — are attempting to expose or teach us? The answers are as unique as we are, offering an infinite world of potential for growth, healing, and change.

We can dig a little deeper, asking ourselves: what do I believe to be true? Where did this truth come from? Where can I grow? What is beauty? What is calling for my attention? As we sift through our inner workings, letting ourselves wander with curiosity and non-judgment, we unearth deeper truths that have likely been concealed for years — perhaps, for decades.

The truth remains that we are radiant and that we are worthy. Whether we believe in these statements or not, they exist beneath the surface of whatever alternative reality we perceive. When we are challenged to believe in our worth, we can explore the deeper messages and callings of the spirit by infusing our experience, thoughts, and feelings with compassion, curiosity, and patience. We can love ourselves through the questions, through the doubt, and through the emotion, finding ourselves, again and again, each time we emerge on the other side. We can challenge ourselves to practice radical self-love, over and over, not despite — but because of — all the things the world told us to believe. TC mark

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