It’s the love that seems to be the thing that all self-development addicts are reaching for. The love that is claimed to be of vital importance and make some of the biggest gains in our health. The love, that despite valiant efforts to reach it, always seems just out of reach.
We can find solace being in search of this love. If we’re on a journey to acquire it, it’s seen as an honourable journey.
But when it comes to actually being in love with ourselves? Consistently treating ourselves as we matter and in a way that one could only assume we nothing more than are in absolute love with ourselves – well, that seems to be another story.
So many of us are on a path to self-love. What I have noticed is that self-love seems to be something we like making attempts at, not something we are actually too committed to having.
I feel that this is where our two minds butt heads. On one hand, the gurus and all the books we read speak wonders of self-love and how it should be a must in our life. On the other hand, we have all of these old stories and beliefs that judge this concept and resist it. Sure, you can pursue it. Have a one night stand. But actually going for it? Actually committing to go steady with yourself? Then those beliefs pipe up and shut it down. They find ways to convince us out of it, make us feel incapable of having such love. Society is a great reinforcer here too – because as much as we hear self-love is good, there’s a whole other choir of voices spewing that self-hate and self-sacrificing is the right way to go (inconspicuously of course).
I believe it is tremendously hard for us to commit to this forbidden love because we still hold worth, value, reinforcement, and comfort within our old self-hating way of being.
I have delved pretty deep into my psyche on this one and I’ve found there is certainly an element of value and belief that “I am a good person” because I treat others better than myself, because I self-sacrifice. I also know that by judging myself so harshly and preemptively rejecting myself – I take away the ammo from those who might think badly of me, and give them no reason to have to throw that shit my way because I’ve already covered myself in it. And if they do throw shit my way, I’m accepting it and layering it on (“Yah I know I am, don’t you see the shithole I put myself in?”) instead of feeling embarrassed caught thinking more of myself than they do.
I have created worth there. Worth – and a pretty significant story that I’ve never truly tested for validity. The story about being loved by others for being this way. Living this story and (for the most part) being accepted by others leaves me in a place where it “could potentially be true”. and if there’s any part inside that still holds onto that belief – it basically means I’m asking myself to trade connection for self-love. Not a very inspiring call to action if that’s the outcome of embracing self-love. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who holds stories and worth in the ‘anti-self-love’ side. It may not appear as that at first, but I encourage you to look deeper and see what is really reinforcing your self-hateful ways.
If I stop judging myself, putting myself down, and treating myself like I matter less – I leave myself open to a different type of rejection. I leave myself vulnerable to holding my own worth and risking having others disagree or reject me. Not only are they rejecting me now, they would also be rejecting what I believe in and who I love.
To have self-love is to put myself in a position where I’m now fully endorsing my own brand. Myself, as imperfect as I am, now standing behind and loving wholeheartedly.
I’m not just being me. I’m being me and saying it’s okay. And not just “okay”, but showing the world that I’m completely lovable.
How fucking terrifying is that?
It makes the quest for self-love seem much more romantic than actually getting there. No wonder we stay stuck “trying to love ourselves” instead of just doing it. Saying we are struggling to love ourselves is almost another way we save face in this forbidden love journey. Acknowledging and discussing how difficult it is for us to love ourselves can be a way we keep ourselves comfortable in this uncomfortable quest; however, it is also a way we can keep ourselves stuck in not getting past the struggle. Declaring to a friend that “I am struggling being nice to myself” is a lot easier than simply BEING nice to yourself in front of others. It’s like we are still holding onto the story of “I know I’m not THAT great, see how much I’m struggling to not beat myself up?!”. We take some pride in the struggle and it helps us feel better discussing it with others – because the intention of self-love is received quite honourably, the actual act of loving yourself proudly is a scary place of uncertainty.
Of course, we know the intention of self-love isn’t the same thing as having it. It doesn’t give us the benefits that we so desperately want in our lives. This is why we must become unstuck and get out of the “trying” trap.
The ongoing self-love journey is a trap of comfort with just enough valuable effort and discomfort to make us believe we are doing good.
We aren’t. We need to commit to this forbidden love. Get realistic about what’s keeping you from just loving yourself – and find ways to let those things go and move on.
The more we know why we are stuck being a commitment-phobe, and what benefits we’re getting from our casual love affair, the better able we will be to stop saying “I am trying to love myself” to saying “I do”.