I wanted to create this post about self-love to clarify my own thoughts & perhaps even to help others ignite that flame that begins their journey inward.
For years now, I have unconsciously loathed myself. I’ve never been good enough for my expectations, I’ve never been who I want to be, I’ve never liked my body or my mind, it’s been complete darkness. About a year ago, I started opening myself to the world, I started putting my heart into what I do, and trying to understand the world around me. When I was living that darkness, I felt so alone, I felt like no one understood my struggle, I felt.. insane. If you’ve seen the movie ‘the Titanic’ at one point, Rose says something along the lines of “it’s like I’ve been screaming at the top of my lungs and no one can hear me,” – this was my life.
When I lived in that darkness I hated everyone. I hated people because they all looked happy, they all seemed secure with themselves, they didn’t seem to be tortured by their own minds, like I was.. needless to say: I was oblivious to the world around me. I was so caught up in my own hurt, that I didn’t notice the other people were also hurting, and furthermore I didn’t notice how much I was hurting other people. I was reckless & insecure, totally immersed in my own self-inflicted hell. I used to sleep all the time, I was always exhausted, feeling the need to escape. I was totally reckless, I made stupid decisions – because I simply just didn’t care.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been meditating since I was ten years old, I had attended numerous spiritual retreats, but for some reason I couldn’t escape my own darkness: I felt like I just wasn’t good enough, that for some reason I deserved the pain.
Moving forward I started realizing that it wasn’t just me who was in pain, I started waking up to the fact that all these other people were also in pain. I started seeing through who they were pretending to be, and noticing myself in those around me. My compassion for others started blooming immensely, but the pain continued. I still felt unworthy, I still felt unfulfilled, but I had been pulled out of my darkness by realizing that I was responsible for my own feelings.
I could go on for days about how I came to the conclusion that I needed to love myself. My partner influenced me, yoga influenced me, I was influenced by some of my experiences, I was influenced by my desire to help others – but basically I realized that I had to walk this journey for myself. Nobody or nothing was going to walk this journey for me, because my journey is my responsibility. The trouble is putting this thought into action, how was I going to love myself, the person I had been loathing for so long?
I started reading articles about self-love & searching for the magic in the ordinary. I started investing myself into things that I enjoy, like writing, hiking & yoga. I started letting myself feel, without judgment or criticism, in order to understand where that feeling came from and embrace it: using my feelings to understand my self.
Remarkable change didn’t come overnight, a year later I still struggle with my perceptions, I still struggle with body-image, I still encounter that darkness & depression that was once my every day life: but it no longer who I am. I’m still insecure, I still struggle with finding things to appreciate about me, but I’m blooming and growing every day.
I’m going to talk about some things that I’ve started doing to strengthen the relationship that I have with myself.
– I started reading books on mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh ~ a Buddhist monk who really emphasizes the importance of mindfulness in every day life. I started practicing this mindfulness.
– I fell into my yoga practice, letting go of the judgements I have about my body & just letting myself simply feel what was going on both internally and externally, I started learning how to feel & realizing how good my body and mind is capable of feeling.
– I started noticing when I would say mean things about myself or to myself, I’d feel the reaction within and notice how it made me feel both internally and externally – my words stung. The person who is supposed to love me, is the person who has been hurting me for all this time, I was breaking my own heart, without being consciously aware of the detrimental effects that rooted from my words, thoughts and actions.
– I started being honest with myself & the people in my life, in order to understand other people & myself, I would have to be able to communicate my thoughts and feelings openly and honestly.
– I started focusing on observing people without judging them. In doing so I started to notice why people are the way they are vs. how much I dislike how they are. In turn, it has allowed me to open doors and to be able to connect with other struggling souls.
– I started enjoying my own company, listening to music and singing, baking, cooking, cleaning: I decided to make it fun & enjoy the quality time spent with myself.
– I realized that I’m human too. I’ve started nurturing myself, and having compassion for me. I’ve always been fairly compassionate when it comes to other people, but realized that compassion isn’t complete unless it includes compassion for ones self.
– I made the decision that I’m going to do it for me. Instead of working on myself in order to appeal to expectations that others have for me, I decided to instead follow my passions and come to fulfillment for myself. Kurt Cobain has a famous quote “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” I think that when our driving force is to gain other people’s acceptance, we miss out on the opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves: because we are striving to be the vision of someone else.
– I have started complimenting myself. Instead of automatically looking for the flaws when it comes to my mind and body, I look for what I love. I hold on to what I love about myself, and let that be who I am rather than basing myself off of my perceived flaws or what I don’t like about myself. I practice loving me in subtle ways that make a huge difference at the end of the day.
– I’ve taken steps to realize that I don’t need to be perfect in order to be whole. I have this amazing body, this beautiful machine that is all mine to use, I can use it to create and explore and fall in love. I have this amazing mind that I can use to process the world around and within me. I can use this fabulous mind to create beautiful things, to think of worlds unknown, to explore the human senses & wonder. I have these emotions that bring me back to the moment and teach me about life, I have these senses in order to taste, touch, hear, smell, and see! I have these wonderful organs and cells that work to keep me alive all through the day and through the night. I am beautiful.
– I’ve started truly looking at the world around me, and noticing the beauty in every day life. I started noticing how admiring a sunset can bring me back to the moment, out of my emotions and out of my head, grounding me in the present. I’ve started looking at the world through a different lens, appreciating it’s beauty & the mystery that it is.
– I’m forgiving myself. I forgive myself and others more easily. I realize that like me, others have their own insecurities and stuff going on, I forgive them for being human. I forgive myself, because I am deserving of forgiveness: I’m only human.
– I realized that I can’t help others without helping myself first. I’ve always been driven to help people, to make the world better for someone else, but without helping myself how am I supposed to guide others?
– I’ve realized that self-love is the foundation for all love. Self-love overcomes insecurities, it allows us to see ourselves in other people. Self-love is a foundation for compassion, and understanding. Self-love strengthens our relationships, because when we can’t be secure with ourselves, how are we going to be secure in relationships with other people? Self-love promotes kindness, and growth, and wholeness.
I think that self-love is the force that will change the world. Self-love is knowing that you are whole and appreciating who you are, & all that you are. Self-love is giving yourself to life, giving yourself to the natural flow and immersing yourself in this experience. Self-love is doing what you love & following your passions. Self-love is taking risks & knowing that every experience no matter how painful, will help you learn and grow. Self-love is a blooming process, it’s something that we have to work on every day, as individuals. Self-love is believing in yourself, and knowing that you’ll be there for you when life is rough. Self-love is breaking those chains and limitations that you have built for yourself, and letting that self be free. Self-love is being who you truly are, in the most authentic way, no matter what anyone else might think. Self-love is letting your crazy out, it’s throwing away the mask and showing the divine being that lies underneath. Self-love is freedom.
I hope that with this post, I inspire people to start that journey of self-love. For me, self-love is the foundation of this experience. Being able to love & trust yourself, will allow you to take pride in who you are. Every person that reads this (and every person that doesn’t) is whole, and completely deserving of love. Every one of you is beautiful in immeasurable ways. Life should be a celebration of yourself, when we can learn to celebrate ourselves, we can start to celebrate each other. Self-love is the best love that you can offer yourself, because you won’t ever run out of the love that you have to give. Self-love will give you the tools to get through this with a light heart, and a spring in your step. Always remember how beautiful you are. We are all walking this path together.