“You have to love yourself.”
That statement confused me beyond measure when I first heard it in my early 20s. It felt like someone had vomited on my shoes and expected me to clean it up.
I was annoyed as well. What right did the person have to tell me what I needed to do?
“New Ager!!” I thought to myself. “What does she know about what it’s really like?”
The person talking to me didn’t realize that I didn’t know what “love yourself” really meant. I understood the words but had no clue as to what the experience of said love would feel like.
What I knew how to do was survive. I had layer upon layer of defenses against neglect, hardships, and dysfunctional people. I learned that being smart was something to develop and being fast with your wits got you attention and approval. Love? Nah, that got you nothing but heartache.
I had concluded long ago that love was a luxury not meant for me. So, it made sense to abandon it and its many manifestations.
And yet here I was listening to someone tell me to love myself. It hurt.
That’s the beginning of my story with self-love.
I’m wondering what does loving yourself mean to you? How do you do it? What does it feel like?
When we think of others loving us, we can name actions and behaviors that make us feel loved.
“When he knows I’m tired and he’ll get the kids off to school.”
“She just accepts me, warts and all!”
“I can be myself. He’s not afraid to get into it with me. I love that.”
With ourselves, are we as lucid and willing to engage in a real,l loving relationship? We cultivate relationships with our partners, kids, family, and friends by going out for dinners, movie nights, hikes and picnics – what could we do to grow the longest, most enduring relationship of our lives, ie the one with ourselves?
Date night? A hike? A long bath? A new pair of shoes?
My sense is that too often what we are taught about self-love in magazines and the media in general, is that candle lights, soft music, treating yourself to some shopping are the way to our own hearts.
Groan. It’s ok but so, so shallow. I like a nice bath. I like to shop but is that all I have to offer when it comes to being with me? A series of romantic, sentimental dates?
No, like all real relationships, I have come to find that my relationship with myself has ups and downs. There are times I like myself and times when I don’t. I don’t want to hang out by myself too much but if I don’t have that daily dose of alone time, I am grumpy.
My favorite me times are when I trust myself to quieten down and allow my breath to deepen. It is in these moments that I feel self-love. And just as what we want from our soulmates – to be truly seen and felt by them, I want the same from me for me, an appreciation and love of me. Untainted by expectations, fears or agendas.
How about you? What kind of relationship do you desire with yourself? Do you feel you can give that to yourself? Is something getting in the way? Let me help.