Love Thyself

The hardest thing in life sometimes is to love yourself truly. I mean, really love yourself and all of you. Every dark spot that holds all your failures, all the things you’re embarrassed or ashamed by as well as all the successes, moments you felt like you did or said something that made you genuinely proud of yourself. Everything all rolled up into the unique package that is you without anyone or anything saying anything different. Loving yourself that deeply for most of us is a challenge, and I will put money down right now that says some part of you thinks that’s an arrogant ass thing, loving all of yourself like the goddess you are. Most of us find the idea of that kind of love for oneself to be almost a vile concept because it sounds like what I’m saying is to believe you can do no wrong cause your just that awesome. There’s a catch to this idea. It doesn’t mean you’re unaware of your flaws and failings. It means that despite those things, you still love and believe in yourself and forgive yourself. It means you understand the dark sides of yourself, embrace them, and learn from them in the most gentle and loving way possible to continually grow and be the best version of you that you can be.

That kind of love is powerful, and sadly most of us aren’t taught to feel that type of deep self-adoration. If we are, there’s always outside forces challenging that, and many of us fall prey to those forces. We all have a moment in our life that started the catalyst for a path of self-hatred and disdain. But those moments or people or even that one person who told us we weren’t shit isn’t the one to blame for lack of self-love. Sure they helped it along and probably fueled it forward, picking up other toxic people and situations that beat us down. The real culprit is what wasn’t ingrained in us from day one. Many of us started life with a loving parent or two who thought the world of us. Not everyone had that, and that sets you back, but even when you do, it doesn’t ensure true self-love. It’s because that lesson of love is taught when things are easy. We’re born, and instantly we are perfect and beautiful and hearing that message, and yes, we are perfect and beautiful for being. However, what happens when we start growing and we make mistakes like knocking over a vase and breaking it, coloring on the walls, cutting off our hair with safety scissors (did that one and there’s a pic to prove it). Yes, these are everyday childhood things, and of course, our parents have to teach us not to do them because that’s their job and it’s how we learn. But as we keep growing and aging, we don’t have that person there to remind us that just because we screw up doesn’t mean we’re a shitty person. Just because we do stupid things sometimes doesn’t make us foolish, and sometimes you need to make a mistake to learn and grow.

Even if we get that, there’s still part of ourselves that feels instant guilt and regret making mistakes. Trust me, even with the most helpful role models; we can still struggle with that. This is coming from a woman whose meditation teaching father always told me when I was young that making mistakes was part of life. He said what’s most important is to take the lesson they give and learn from them. Yep, he’s pretty brilliant, I know, but do you think that wholly sunk in? Hell no! Because my subconscious still struggled, and I also had a shitty ass mom that berated me for even the slightest perceived mistake. She once kicked me out at the age of six, and to this day, I can’t tell you what at six years old I’d done to earn getting kicked out in a not so good neighborhood I might add. All I do know is I packed my strawberry shortcake suitcase probably with some stuffed animals and went to the curb cause I didn’t know how to get to my dad’s house or call him. So you could say I had two very opposing voices growing up and for those wondering, don’t worry, my dad was called. He picked me up as he did every other time I got kicked out until I stopped going to her house altogether. There’s an old saying about feeding the right wolf, and you’d think because, while my dad has his flaws, he showed and taught me unconditional love, I’d have listened to my dad. You’d be wrong because I grew to be hard on myself, and the moment someone didn’t like me, or I screwed up or wasn’t as good at something as someone else, I perceived myself as a bad person, stupid or not good enough. I only allowed myself to get so far ahead and let all the wrong voices to get in my head.

Why did I do this? Because I feed the wrong wolf and that wolf would be the one associated with my mother. I wanted desperately for her to love me. I wanted to be seen and appreciated by her and I never really was. As an adult it’s easy to say well fuck her she was an asshole. Yeah, she was, but child me just wanted her mommy to show her she mattered. I never got that and as I grew up adult me had some real fucked up romantic relationships with partners just like her. This is where we get self love screwed up. We search and search for outside validation to prove we’re worthy of love never quite finding what makes us feel whole. Because nothing and no one outside of us can make us feel that. I see friends who can’t stay single for more than five minutes because they’re just desperate to have something to fill a void. We don’t get reminded as we start growing up that our own self love is the most important love we’ll ever experience. As women, we are still taught by society that our worth is determined by the world. Men are taught that they only have value if they’re “a real man”.

No matter what we’re told at birth we stop hearing those messages early on that by existing we have value. I’m not promoting telling people they matter just because and never have to do anything in life. Definitely not advocating for a generation sitting around going “well I’m awesome so guess I don’t need to do anything”. Not at all but imagine if we all learned that each of were uniquely special and mattered from day one and continued hearing that. Imagine what would happen if we all just really loved ourselves and believed in ourselves as we entered adulthood. We would have a generation of people that dared to dream, respected each person in the world because they would understand that each person is special. It’d be pretty hard for this world to be as fucked up as it can be like that right?

It’s almost as if Mr. Rogers was onto something way back. He knew the importance of self love and he promoted it daily. Like many other people in my generation, I watched him religiously and was enamored with him and his messages. The only problem is he was fighting a world saying something very different. Society is a big entity and yes it’s hard to fight but more and more people are waking up and understanding why we have to change the way we see ourselves and each other. But how do we do it? Fred sadly isn’t here anymore to continue his beautiful show but his messages are still out there and we can learn from them. He never hid from discussing the dark things and that is a first step. Have a conversation with the dark parts of yourself and figure out why they exist and what they’ve been attempting to protect you from. They exist for a reason and instead of this idea that you need to just focus on good things and becoming better love and integrate the shadowy parts too. If you don’t they’ll keep ruling your life and you’ll keep getting into bad relationships, underachieving, holding yourself back and whatever else you do that doesn’t help you. Have a conversation and embrace what you’ve learned from those parts of you. Love your failures and short comings. When you can do that you can start really loving yourself and I promise your life will transform before your eyes!

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