Self-love is a notion that has been thrown around a lot lately. At surface level, it seems to look like sipping a glass of red wine while sitting in a claw foot tub with green goop on your face. For those of us who are on a journey of growth and enlightenment, we understand that that kind of self-love, though relaxing and lovely, simply isn’t it. Real self-love is a lifetime journey, it’s a practice of understanding light and dark, ebbs and flows. It’s painful and beautiful and spiritual, and in the bigger picture, it’s the only way we can love other people as well.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Someone can only meet you to the point that they’ve met themselves.” This never held much weight with me until I started to do the internal work necessary to examine my own life and understand my past traumas in order to heal. It’s tricky, though, right? Part of me has always felt like putting myself first was selfish and uncompassionate toward other people in my life. I didn’t want to stop holding space for others or end relationships that were negative because I was so worried about hurting the other person. But it’s MY life, and the more work I’ve done in my own being, the more profound and positive my relationships and impact on others has been.
This idea that we don’t want to have any bad blood with someone is absolute bullshit. It’s a perspective that needs to shift. Like many others, I have allowed such immense pain and mistreatment in my life in order to keep the “good vibes only” lifestyle, and that sucks for so many reasons, mainly because in terms of relationships, no one does anything bad or good to us—WE ALLOW things to happen to us. We open the door and whoever or whatever we let in is on us, and when we try to always keep the peace with people or experiences that we allow to hurt us, we inevitably hold blame or resentment towards those situations instead of acknowledging that we are the culprit behind it. The notion that we can’t burn bridges in a positive, effective way for all parties involved is simply not true.
Sometimes bridges must be burned so that we do not cross them again. When you examine, and communicate what you need in order to be happy and someone cannot hold that space for you, then it is time to thank them for the experience, explain that the relationship is no longer serving you, metaphorically burn that bridge, and move forward. Because chances are, if they aren’t serving you, you probably aren’t serving them in the way they need either. And the most beautiful thing about it all is nothing is permanent. If a bridge is burned, you may be able to build it again one day with a foundation based on more authenticity, peace, and love.
Whatever is truly meant for you will always find you. So, if people are meant to be in your life for the long run, they’ll show back up. It may just look different than what we had imagined, and how incredible is that?
Real change begins at the individual level. We have to understand who we are, what we don’t know, and what we need to work on in order to understand anyone else. If we don’t sit in the darkness within ourselves, we won’t understand our own light. If we don’t show ourselves compassion, we will never show it to anyone else. Each and every day we do the work to be our highest self, we are doing the work to make the world a better place. Sometimes that work is letting go of people we love in order to transform and find bigger, bolder experiences.
Do not be afraid of these dark moments. Do not grow so angry with someone who cannot meet you where you are at. This may show up in many forms. Most commonly, it looks like manipulating, lying, or gaslighting from the other person. You must understand that these people just haven’t found themselves on that part of their journey yet. They don’t know themselves like you do. Offer grace and peace and continue moving forward with your own work.
This relationship with ourselves is the greatest, longest one we will ever have. We have to do the work. We have to find it in ourselves to forgive and love our entire being for the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, chaotic mess that it is. Because once we do, we begin to love the brilliant, beautiful, chaotic mess that encompasses the soul of others, too.