What Does "Loving Oneself" Actually Mean?
I wrote a couple blogs back about self-love and self-acceptance and started to think about how we all talk about loving ourselves but may not really know what that looks like from a boots-on-the-ground, sort-of-way. Like seriously, what does it mean in real, concrete terms to love and accept oneself?
First, I want to delineate what I believe loving oneself is not: loving oneself is not avoiding uncomfortable feelings. It’s not pretending everything is OK when it’s not. It doesn’t mean taking oneself out on a date when you can’t stand your own company. It’s not finding new and inventive ways to ignore yourself. It’s not hiding or holing yourself up in a room and getting one’s feelings in order or under control until you’re more palatable and more fit for public consumption. Simply put, if you’re making yourself and your feelings wrong on any overt or covert level, that is not self-love or self-acceptance.
So what is self-love and self-acceptance? It’s meeting oneself exactly where you are without trying to change it, fix it, alter it, shame it, or avoid it. It means taking yourself and your feelings seriously without being precious or dramatic or meaningful about it. It literally looks like this:
BTW, I aspire to that! That is some aikido, doctorate level patience and acceptance. I am really good at providing that for others but I don’t get to that level with myself all the time. I also have to work at it.
So what do I do when the relationship with myself feels disempowering and unkind?
Here’s my list in no hierarchical order:
♦ I write in my journal a lot
♦ I take long walks
♦ I make my bed
♦ I do the dishes
♦ I go to hot yoga and/or hot pilates every or every other day
♦ I take hot salt baths
♦ I have sex with people who I love and who love me
♦ I listen to podcast
♦ I talk to my women friends a lot
♦ I speak to a coach or a therapist as often as I need to
♦ I get energy work done
♦ I do a shaking meditation where I shake and speak incoherently for 20 mins - just sort of let my body and emotions do whatever - and then I meditate right after for 20 mins
♦ I cry. Sometimes a lot
♦ I cry some more
♦ I scream. Sometimes a lot.
♦ I scream some more
♦ I get really fucking angry and have internal conversations with myself, people, God, the person in front of me in line, etc., etc
♦ I try to let myself feel all of it
♦ I write how much I hate myself; the world; God; everyone! (meeting myself in my own hate without judgement is an act of love)
♦ I write gratitudes every day
♦ I write mantras every day
♦ I eat too much and hate myself
♦ I don't eat enough and hate myself
♦ I play with all the dogs I can and find joy
♦ I pray
♦ I pray some more
♦ I go to 12-step meetings
♦ I get frustrated with how long the process is taking
♦ I ask myself questions that challenge the victim thinking; questions like, “is this true or does it just feel true?” “Where is the sensation in my body?”, etc. Anything that helps me distance myself from the disempowering pattern or belief
♦ I finally start to differentiate from the noise and begin to get breathing space
♦ I really really sink in and feel it all
♦ I surrender. Really surrender.
♦ And I finally truly start to find peace…
We all need support from the internal and external noise and patterns from time-to -ime. There’s no shame in that. Loving and accepting ourselves is a lifelong commitment. The relationship with ourselves is a real relationship; more real and more important than any other we have.
Please reach out if you would like a coach or spelunker to support you while you are doing your own emotional cave diving.