So, I’m actually talking about self-love here. How we feel about our selves…
I certainly have not always loved myself, in fact there was a large window of time in which I felt almost a hatred…or at the very least a sort of shame. I’ve learned that there is a big difference between truly loving oneself and just learning to settle. As with finding a mate or partner, there’s the person that makes your breath catch in your throat when you think about them (in my case, even after 9 years of marriage!) and there’s the person who is “eh, they’ll do”.
I’ve seen so many admirable articles on the interwebs over the years about loving yourself despite your perceived flaws. I’ve seen others about loving yourself because of them. But I often find myself wondering about the difference between developing a true and unconditional love for ourselves (our bodies, our personalities…whatever) and just learning to tolerate ‘what is’. I don’t think a passive toleration is actually enough…at least not for me, or you, if what you want is to truly level up your life.
Just like with a passionate and loving relationship, developing that kind of passionate love for yourself takes effort. I hesitate to say it takes “work” and I do so intentionally. A relationship based on true and reciprocating love takes effort and dedication, but just like a passionate hobby or career, it doesn’t feel like “work”. So I will stick with effort, and intention.
To have self-love, does it mean that we just need to learn to love what is, or better… do we learn to love what IS IN PROGRESS, during every beautiful and transformative breath??
“Loving Yourself and Complacency are not the same thing…You CAN choose to love yourself enough to change.”
As an example, I’ve been overweight most of my life. By the world’s standards, even when I was the ‘smallest’ and the most fit I’ve ever been, I was still far from our projection of perfection. And yes, in the more formative years of my past, this left me feeling so sub-standard, embarrassed, confused and isolated. But it’s funny how time and experience can change our perception of reality. In my teens and early 20′s I dated men that reinforced that incredibly low opinion of myself, with comparison’s and judgements they helped ME shape my opinion of myself. Then I met a man that thought I was totally the bees knees. And yes, he fell in love with my personality but NEVER made me feel like he loved me despite my body. This was certainly new territory for me as I had chosen, prior, to identify almost exclusively with my intelligence, my talents, humor and ambition, and NOT with my appearance. I would tell myself over and over that my appearance didn’t matter because I had all those other things I could be proud of.
So I was wholly unfamiliar with the way this man (my now husband) said he felt about me. He loved EVERYTHING about me, including my body, which at the time I viewed as so flawed. So I learned to tolerate my body. After all, this man that I adored, adored it…so I figured, what could it hurt to try to believe him?
Fast forward 10 years and now I truly do LOVE my body. Does it look perfect? Nope. Does it even look better than it did? Double Nope. But guess what… in the last year this body has blown every expectation of it out of the water. This body has housed, formed, nourished and nurtured another human being. My gorgeous daughter, Aria was born in February and I still stand in awe of the whole process. It was such an empowering experience, but it certainly doesn’t take pregnancy and childbirth to come to an appreciation of what our miraculous bodies do for us.
That being said, I still have a question to bring us back to my point. Just because we can learn to love and appreciate our bodies in their varying states of perceived imperfection, does that mean it’s somehow wrong or unloving to want to improve upon that which we already love?? I mean, sure there’s ways to do so that are healthy, like choosing nourishing and healthy nutrition, regular exercise etc…and I think that THIS IS a component of self love. Not just tolerating our bodies the way they are but giving ourselves the gift of becoming even more amazing and beautiful if we choose to.
To be clear, I don’t think that this desire should be imposed upon anyone. But I for one take a lot of pride in accomplishment and self-development. But because I spent so much of my life identifying myself as everything apart from my body, it’s still hard to make my physical health a priority. I do know, though, that I want to be as healthy and capable as I can be to promote a healthy self-love, not only for myself but as an example for my daughter. I don’t want her to have to spend 30 years of her life trying to ‘come back’ to herself…
So what has been your experience with self-love? Whether you’ve had weight issues or struggled with anything else that made you feel ‘less than’…tell me about it in the comments below. I may not even know you, but I can tell you…I think you are truly awesome.