I feel like I keep evolving my understanding of what it means to truly love myself. I’m relearning what it looks like to live from a place of self-love.
Growing up in the 50s, self-love was not even a concept, as far as I can remember. Self-expression was not encouraged. In fact, it was suppressed. We were taught to behave, to get along with others, to cooperate, and, my father’s favorite admonition to me: “Don’t make trouble, Marge.” Those words are etched in my mind and echo through my body—still to this day. And my dad passed away in 2006!
I don’t regret this upbringing, because it led me on a path of searching for answers, some way to reconcile my disruptive personality with living in the world. By 1970, at 23 years old, I began to study metaphysics, other ways to see the world. I sought teachers, guides, kindred spirits and continue to this day looking for new ideas, challenging my old habits of thought, my preconceived notions of what is good, bad, right, wrong—to the point that today, those words mean far less to me than ever before.
What matters most to me now is whether I am living from my own truth or living a lie.
That may sound dramatic, yet I am certain that when I don’t tell myself the truth and don’t speak my truth to others, I am violating myself in an extremely detrimental way. I’m not talking about a blunt, unconsidered tirade of “honesty” which is really a rant, not helpful to anyone or any situation.
I’m talking about the truth that says: I feel this or that; I am uncomfortable; I feel unheard; I feel out of sync with you; I feel by cooperating in this situation I am discounting myself…. Just a few examples of ways I have learned to express myself.
This is vastly different from saying: You did this to me; I’m mad at you; you hurt me; I don’t like what you did and now you’re making me…(fill in the blank ). None of those put me in a responsible position. Taking responsibility for my experiences is one of the purest forms of self-love! Blaming others for my experiences is a deflection and leads to more separation, turmoil, and a big disconnect.
Even if I’m not overtly blaming others, if I look for some reason outside myself for my state of mind, my sense of well-being, I’m moving out of responsibility and into what can easily turn into a victim role.
I’m not really interested in being a victim of anything! I’m more interested in living the definition of responsibility: the ability to respond. That comes from being willing to own up to my part of any situation I find myself in, whether I like it or not!
Many times we spiral down into self-blame for what is going wrong in our lives yet fail to see the things that are working. Owning up to my part means considering the things I have done that bring about a sense of harmony, peace—and actual joy!
For me, self-love means loving it ALL—the “good” “bad” “right” “wrong”—because, in truth, all of those experiences have all led me somewhere different. Taught me things. Enhanced my life in myriad ways.
Instead of feeling regret and judging myself for all the mistakes of the past, I choose to look at them as “miss-takes”—things I did that didn’t work out. Like taking 100 shots of a scene until I get the picture I want. The first 99 were the “miss-takes” to get me to the great one. Why not see our life choices like that?
Here are a couple of examples:
At 18, I went on a blind date and when I didn’t want to kiss him at a party, I got in the car and, unbeknownst to me he had had too much to drink and drove us into a light post.
I could call that a BIG MISTAKE and see myself as a long-suffering victim for the rest of my life
And for me, I can truly say that part of my self-love has been learning how to take care of myself through these struggles.
By the time I was 42 I had been married and divorced 3 times! When I grew up, getting married was expected—and my parents took each marriage as an opportunity to make sure I was “settled” and secure.
I could call all of them BIG MISTAKES, but I learned so much along the way! And 30 years later I’m still happily single because I’m not willing to settle for something that doesn’t feel right, or where I can’t be my true self. I am settled and secure within myself instead of “settling down” for the sake of pleasing others, fitting in.
These experiences led me to figure out how to love myself, give myself what I want, and need to make my life work for me.
Are you ready to ask yourself what you want and need to make your life work for you? That is a sure pathway to self-love….