June and weddings have a thing going on. Weddings remind me of love, and since it’s June I’ve been thinking about marriage and the different kinds of love.
Marriage often results from loving someone and wanting to “have and hold ‘til death do you.” Loving oneself is the basis for any healthy relationship, wedded or un, and it happens to be a death ‘til you die kind of relationship. Sadly, many of us never learn what it means to love ourselves, yet we make it our business to learn how to love someone else. Ain’t that a bitch?!
“You want me to love all the ugly, messy, imperfections of you?” Of course I will. Yet if I ask you to love all the messy, ugly — jiggly — imperfections of you, eye rolling is sure to follow.
Self-love, like loving another can be hard, seeming impossible at times and it hinges on self esteem, a belief that you are worthy of love, respect and honor. Lucky are those who are the products of a nurturing environment and strong examples of those.
People who have suffered mental or physical abuse, rejection, chaos, or abandonment are likely to be confused about their sense of self worth — if they have any at all.
If you grew up hearing, “you are so clumsy” or “what a stupid girl” and “who would want you?” you might be holding subconscious ideas about your adult self that reflect those words. Empowering? Hardly. Self-doubt and condemnation will be the soundtrack playing softly in the background of your adult life.
It makes it hard to love and receive and trust love from someone else. It screws with our work, health, and success.
So what to do about this self-love/self-esteem thing?
There are millions of books, products, and programs to help us build self esteem and learn to do self-love. I’ll bet more than a few of us sit down at the end of a long day with a glass of wine or climb into the tub with a large whack of premium chocolate and call it our little bit of self love.
Loving oneself in a tub of bubbles or with bubbles in a glass help us to celebrate our wondrous selves, and I encourage those things. (There isn’t enough celebration for just being fabulous.) When followed by “Ah, I am so loving this bath and Oh lord would you look at those thighs,” you’ve just ripped the needle from the Barry White record of self-love.
Here is a conversation I overheard the other day while shopping for something to wear.
Shopper 1: “I am so fat I can’t stand it.”
Shopper 2, standing just outside the try on room: “Oh my gawd I feel the same way. I can’t believe I’m such a jerk for eating like my husband all the time when I know it’s not the best idea.”
Sounds like harmless bathing suit shopping horror, right? Well it is, and isn’t.
While it is common for us to talk about ourselves in negative terms, it is not harmless. This kind of talk also means our identity is bound up in a temporal, aging, changing, physical form.
We are not our thighs!
The body is the vehicle through which we experience our lives. That is all.
I found this quote on the website of the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga: “Embodiment is not some sort of karmic punishment, nor something we need to transcend, but rather engage with skillfully. It is through the limitations of the body/mind that we discover that our true nature is boundless.” And I’d add, lovable.
Judging is punitive. Self-love is supportive.
We need support, and in the moments we are not with our coaches, mastermind groups, friend circles, or at church we must love on and support ourselves.
But “I don’t deserve to be happy, I hardly ever do what I say I will,” you might say. Phooey, you come in worthy of all that is good and joyous. Worthy is in your DNA. Action does not affirm or negate that.
“I am not strong enough to change my body,” you plead. You most certainly are. Has your life not proven that you stronger than you know until put to a test?
“I’m such an idiot” is one of my favorite, easy-to-roll-off-the-tongue poisons to the relationship I have with me. Am I? No. “So what’s the big deal?” you ask, “it’s just words.” The big deal is that your mind accepts what you say, think, or experience as true. Repeated actions, words, and experiences create grooves in the brain. Once the grooves are there the needle plays over and over in that groove, and it is harder for us to do or think something different. “I am an idiot” is the same as “I am brilliant” as far as the mind is concerned. But which would you rather see yourself as?
“If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” – Anonymous
You are the baby everyone saw as perfect and lovable. You are the child you cherish and want to protect with all your heart. You are doing the best you can or you would do something else, I promise.
That said, it’s good to check in when there is a surplus of judging and self-loathing to see if you could stretch, do more, be more, show up for yourself as you would for someone else. Remind yourself you are better than letting yourself down.
Mostly let your judging, negative voice go. Be loving, forgiving, gentle. Like you do for others. Marry yourself. Make the commitment to love all of you and see what you are up to as brilliant and just as it should be. Do it if for no other reason than that it will, guaranteed, make your life brilliant.