“You cannot fully love another, if you do not first fully love yourself.”
We’ve heard that before. We accept the challenge. We adopt “self-love” as a quest. “I will stand up for myself,” “I will follow my dreams,” “I will bring that idea to life,” “I will leave my husband,” “I will treat myself to chocolate.”
We treat self-love as a chore. As something that must be worked on. Accomplished. Found, or developed.
Something far-fetched and abstract. So we embark on a quest. We dress up for the part. We enroll in a workshop. We see a shrink, “They will help me love myself,” we say.
We work hard. We discipline ourselves into self-love. We assign ourselves labels “attractive”, “successful”, “hot”, based on what others have told us. Based on the stuff we acquired. We are giving “IT”, or “THEM” the task, the credit, the responsibility to bring us the self-love. As if third party inference is transference for our own worth.
Making THEM the beacons of our own self-love, we tell ourselves: “I am not (yet) good enough.” “I do not (yet) know better.” “I still need to read one more blog, one more article, finish that book, go to that workshop, check those seven bullet points on someone else step-list.” The answer is there somewhere. “Someone has it,” we think.
That someone, “Is not me.”
We work to IMPRESS. Impress their opinions, their knowledge, their wisdom, their guidance on us. Or, impress them with compliments, perfection, flawlessness, grandeur, dedication, or accomplishments.
Where is the Self in all of this? I don’t hear the Self. And where’s the unconditional? The, “fully”?
Today, I wish to stand up for the Self. For yours and mine. For ours. I wish to express in the name of Self. That’s what self-love is all about! Expression. Express that which IS you. With all the flaws and quirks, all the weaknesses and shortcomings.
Write that SMS, send that email, publish that blog, speak up to that boss, open up to your partner, tell her the truth about your doubts and fears. Don’t do it to get something out of them.
Don’t do it to get them to like you better. Don’t do it to get them to change. Do it out of self-love. You owe it to yourself.
Your feelings are allowed to be. They are there for a reason. And they are all valid. Even those that change by the second. Even those that are labeled “undesirable”.
Yes, you are unstable. Yes, you are emotional. Yes, you are insecure. Sad. Lonely. Afraid. Manipulative. Speculative. Deceptive. You are all of it. Without exception. Allow yourself to BE. Every part of you.
Especially the parts you feel compelled to embellish or hide. Don’t hide truths, or impart half-truths. Don’t give precedence to some feelings, or traits over others. Don’t deprive yourself of you. Don’t deprive me of you.
The truth is, that that’s what self-love is – Truth! Admit it. Acknowledge it. Know it. Embrace it. Show it. Express it. Those are the steps.
When you reach the last one you’ve got Art. For what is Art if not expression? And how uninspiring and dishonest would art be if we only painted the flowers and rainbows? Are we truly being loving to the other if we discriminate what we choose to share with them based on how much of their acceptance it will bring us? How can they – how can we – grow if we only show flowers and rainbows?
So next time your wife nags or your boss complains, instead of huffing and puffing perhaps you could thank them?! Thank them for being true. True to themselves. True to their own feelings and opinion. And true to you. It’s easy to hide, but it’s cowering. Expression takes courage. But when you know it comes from self-love you won’t be able to help yourself.