With February upon us, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, AND, on the heels of a pretty tough year, this is a missive about loving yourself. Go ahead and roll your eyes if you want to or giggle like a 12-year-old boy (hehe…self-love…sex…with yourself). In actuality, when it comes to self-love, what I really want to talk about is worthiness and connection.
First off though, let’s give credit where credit is due. The fact that more and more of us are having conversations like this is BECAUSE OF MILLENNIALS.
Millennials are, according to a 2017 NPR article, “the generation of emotional intelligence.”
Gone are the days of mental health being a hushed and hurried afterthought. And I think it’s a much-needed shift that will shepherd all of us into a more balanced future.
For the sake of clarity, I’ll define self-love as having an appreciation of yourself and your physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological experience.
Self-love is about compassion and forgiveness. It’s about practicing those concepts on yourself so you can then offer it to others. It’s about accepting yourself as a clumsy container of organs and bones and accepting all the other fumbling meat sacks around you.
Just because I can recognize and define it doesn’t mean it’s an easy practice. I frequently feel like I’m not “good enough.” I want to be better. Like life is a game, and I want more points. I know that part of being a human being is being flawed and imperfect, but occasionally, I get trapped in a narrative where the storyline goes something like this:
I am broken.
I need to fix what’s broken.
If I fix what’s broken, then I’ll reward myself with appreciation.
It’s a sickness, this withholding. Withholding love as a punishment and holding it out like a carrot thinking it will motivate us. It does not.
I know this type of thinking the perfectionist in me, and I know I’m not the only one who struggles with it. Especially in a world where we see curated versions of other people’s lives on social media, we can sometimes be tempted to compare ourselves to others. An article in Psychology Today calls this “the comparison trap.”
We compare, we compete and we edit ourselves…sorting things into black and white baskets. Good and bad. Healthy and unhealthy. Mature and immature. Mindful or mindless. Proactive or reactive. Willing or unwilling. Courage or comfort. One or the other. The truth is that most things exist on a spectrum. It’s not one or the other…it’s both…constantly…and on a sliding scale that’s always moving.
What’s insane about being fixated with fixing ourselves is that those of us who get trapped in it are most often doing it alone, suffering in silence, like the rest of the world isn’t struggling. We all struggle to take care of ourselves. We all act in ways that don’t serve us. If we talked about it more, we’d feel less alone and less like a total nut job.
If self-love and self-care is subject matter that interests you, I highly recommend checking out ANYTHING by Brené Brown (books, podcasts, videos). You can start by visiting https://brenebrown.com/
I also recommend the following:
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love
By Sonya Renee Taylor
By Kristen Neff
A Return to Love
By Marianne Williamson
By Susan David
Permission to Feel
By Mark Brackett, PhD
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
By Emily Nagoski, PhD and Ameia Nagoski, DMA