Self-Love: The New Paradigm

Self-love has become the new buzz word, the new spiritual, emotionally intelligent thing to do. I am a teacher, a believer, a spouter of this great amazing thing called self-love, but I am also here to say “it’s deeper, it’s richer, it’s fuller, it’s more powerful than we have even begun to comprehend“.

confused-unicornThe truth is I think most of us are confused. Confused about loving ourselves, confused about being told to love ourselves, confused about how to love ourselves and wondering if we already did love ourselves before we were told it was what we were supposed to be doing. Using loving ourselves as a way of beating ourselves up, feeling like we should do it “better”, love ourselves “more”. But how?!

It seems like it should be the most natural thing we have ever done, but after a lifetime of being gently, and sometimes not so gently, dragged away from our own inner-guidance, things can get cloudy. I have devoted years to actively learning how to love myself. It has been an amazing challenge, the hardest part being the moment I realized I barely even liked myself and most definitely did NOT love myself, nor did I know how.

The most shocking thing about that discovery was the fact that all this time I thought I did love myself. I was deeply spiritual, I had done personal growth work, I had been in therapy, and I took yoga classes. The truth was I only loved parts of myself. The parts that went to yoga classes, were spiritual, and did personal growth work. What about my anger, my jealousy, my negative self-talk, my critical and judgmental side? Those parts of me were most certainly unlovable. So I set out on a mission to integrate those parts into the “Love Zone” (hard work). Total acceptance, forgiveness, embracing the dark (shadow) self was and is mind-blowingly challenging. I wish all it took was awareness and then *poof*…you love all of yourself no matter what, but it is a far greater adventure than just that. Becoming aware is a huge and essential step in the process, but I am here to say it is just one step of infinite steps towards deeply embracing, loving, and adoring ALL of one’s self.

Even to say the word “self” is complicated as we are composed of so many facets, so many characters. “Self” is a very slippery slope. So when doing self-love work my deepest suggestion is to be as utterly, painfully, balls to the wall, open and honest with all of those “selves” you are doing your best to know and love. Trying to lie, hide, or evade yourself is utterly counter productive. I’ve had to admit some unbelievably heinous things about parts of myself. I had to own them and stop trying to push them away and push them onto other people. Owning up to myself, even though very embarrassing and hard at times, ultimately freed something up inside me. It created space for something other than hurt and fear. I had to look at how I hated myself, how I used self-hate as a weapon to keep self-love, acceptance, and appreciation far out of reach.

MasqueradeSelf-hate can even masquerade as self-love acting like it is trying to love you by telling you to exercise, be healthy, and feel good, but the underlying feeling you get is that you are fat and unhealthy. Beating ourselves up about how we should be better, how we will change, because how we are now is gross and worthless. How many times have I tried to motivate myself through fear and judgement all through the guise of self-love? I know when I am actually being motivated by love because it feels good. I feel inspired, uplifted, supported. When self-hate is masquerading as love I feel guilty, shameful, less than, tired and defeated.

Learning how to truly fall in love with ourselves means taking a long look at some false premises we have set up for ourselves. Looking at patterns and beliefs, opening our minds, our hearts, our bodies to new dimensions of thought. Decoding some of our fear patterns and blocks we have built against love. Defining what love is to us and practicing everyday to open ourselves to new depths of knowing ourselves. Fearlessly exploring who we really are!