For many, myself included, it doesn’t come naturally.
It is our birthright, but often our experiences and relationships early in life dictate how we end up feeling about ourselves.
Then we enter this space of being adult and often somewhere along the way learn about self-love.
Unfortunately, it’s often the bubble gum version we’re introduced to.
The positivity bypass, “just love yourself” and show yourself self-love by getting your nails done.
Honestly, I’ve been there too but the thing is we can’t actually heal the. root of where self-hatred and low self-esteem comes from with this version of self-love.
My version of self-love includes the shadow.
It holds space for emotional pain and fear.
My version of self-love doesn’t bypass my very real human experience.
It includes anger and boundaries.
It includes acceptance of my ego, rather than denial.
Self-love without shadow integration is just spiritual bypassing.
I was speaking with a friend lately on the topic of self-love and how we both don’t fully resonate with the term.
For me, I don’t know if I’ve yet come to a place of loving all parts of me or if I even know what that feels like.
What I do resonate with is self-acceptance and self-compassion.
When I understand these parts of me I thought were unlovable it’s easier to accept them.
When I understand how they were just trying to get needs met in the best way they knew how, I feel more compassion towards them, and myself.
My goal is no longer to love all parts of me, but to constantly come back to myself with full acceptance and compassion over and over again.
If that leads to self-love, amazing.
If it doesn’t, that’s okay too because I’m so done with doing things perfectly.
In reflection, I have become so much more self-loving towards myself when it comes to my thoughts and actions.
So in this sense, self-love is more of a verb than a noun.
I shared with my partner the other day, that I’m not sure I truly know what love feels like yet.
Sure there’ve been cathartic moments.
But in my daily life it’s a practice to access my heart, which I don’t feel I’ve fully accessed yet.
I know a part of this has to do with my avoidant attachment style, and I’ve been working towards a more secure attachment in my relationship for over a year now.
I don’t use that as an identity, but simply to bring in that compassion so I don’t end up in a shame spiral feeling like I’m not doing enough to access my core essence of love.
My partner and I are also working together to create love in our relationship because I now know that love doesn’t just happen.
Which has got me reflecting on if we can fully learn to love ourselves alone.
Or is it in connection with others that we heal and access a sense of self-love?
So far, this has been my experience.
Even when I first started doing acceptance work around my body, it was the body positivity community that was reflecting the okayness of this part of myself I’d thought made me unlovable.
Food for thought.
I have awareness around my avoidant attachment making it seem easier to be independent and take care of myself.
As I’ve done my work though, I’ve unearthed the truth in my body that that was just keeping me safe from getting too close to others.
Self-love is a practice that frankly, doesn’t always feel good.
Think about having a courageous conversation. It can induce anxiety to speak our truth and set boundaries, but it’s one of the most self-loving things we can do.
I think this is why the term doesn’t always connect with me. Because of how it’s associated with rainbows, unicorns and feel good, high vibes.
That’s not. authentic self-love, unless it’s also including the other side of the coin.
It’s also incredibly invalidating when we tell others that it’s simple and a choice to love themselves.
There’s a deeper healing work required when someone is struggling to access self-love within themselves.
There’s a reason they feel low self-worth and acknowledgement of the pain that led them there is incredibly healing in and of itself.
Shaming never helps them go on that journey to peel back what is actually getting in the way.
How do you see self-love?