For years and years, I dwindled away the precious moments of my life, stuck in a haze of repetitive thoughts about how I was not worthy, not enough, not lovable. For whatever reason. And you know what I've come to realize? These attitudes are just not acceptable.
If there is one thing I want to be able to say when I leave this planet, it's that I added to the experience of love on this Earth.
There is too much fear and hate in this world. Wars, abuse, unspeakable acts of violence. We can either choose to live in fear, generating more violence, or to love. It's that simple. And no, we can't pick and choose who is worthy of love, even when it comes to loving ourselves.
I hear it all the time from clients when discussing the concept of self-love: "I don't think these negative thoughts about other people, just myself." We think that our self-hate won't affect the rest of the world, that it won't from affect our children, our relationships, or the collective human spirit. But that's just not true.
Consider the effects of the trap of thinking about "worthiness" and conditional love in the following relationship scenarios ... From there, we can start realizing how these kinds of negative thoughts affect us, and begin to practice the difficult practice of unconditional self-love.
Would you tell a baby that you won't love them until they lose the rolls of pudge? Or a child struggling to read that you won't love them until they are able to?
Of course not! The notion is ridiculous, right? Yet we do it to ourselves ALL OF THE TIME. We are imposing multiple conditions on the love that we are willing to offer ourselves. What happens if you withhold love for a child until he is able to read? Say nasty things to the child, because he isn't yet capable of doing so? The child will never learn to read! The same is true for our own processes: whether it be weight loss, personal growth, working with addictions and persistent behavioral patterns. We can't hate ourselves into evolving. It just doesn't work.
One of the most important things I learned while working at an eating disorder recovery center is that kiddos are oh so smart and sensitive to the subliminal messages that they grow up with. If you have a loop of negative thoughts about yourself running through your head, expect them to shape the minds of your little one, even if you don't say them aloud.
When we hate ourselves, our friendships suffer. Out of the experience of not being enough, a myriad of damaging behaviors arise: constantly comparing oneself to others rather than lifting them up, passive aggressive comments meant to put someone down rather than build them up so that you don't feel quite so small, pulling away from friends that are empowered and loving of self because they trigger that part of you that equates humility to self deprecation. Friendships and relationships are so healing. It took me many years to find women in my life that inspired me enormously with their authenticity, self-love, and light. They bring out the best in me and I am so immensely grateful for them.
This is a big one. When we judge ourselves or hate on aspects of ourselves, we pull away into our small little internal world. We show up as cold or withdrawn with our partner because we aren't emotionally available. Or we abandon the awareness of our experience because our feelings are too painful to sit with.
When we numb out with behaviors like overeating, watching excessive TV, or abusing alcohol and drugs, we vacate the seat of the self. We then yearn for intimacy and connection because we have abandoned our center, our core, our heart. It's easy in these situations to point the finger at our partner. As though if they just showed up a little differently, showered us with just a little bit more love, attention, and affection, then we wouldn't feel the sense of emptiness and despair that we do. But it all starts with you!
When we abandon ourselves, we crave the connection and intimacy and expect others to meet that need of ours. But we aren't there to receive it. We need people standing in their gifts and personal power, not making themselves small because self-deprecating thoughts are running the show, generating intolerable amounts of fear. It's time to step up and take a stand for LOVE.