The Importance of Self-Love
RuPaul likes to say that "if you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"
I've always appreciated that saying. One of the cornerstones of my personal belief system is the importance of self-love and yet, accepting self and having compassion for self seem to be one of the hardest lessons for us to learn.
This week we are on Week Seven of "The Artist's Way: Recovering a Sense of Connection". A lot of the chapter is given over to the desire to be perfect and how often we fear doing something because in our heads we think we have to be perfect all the time. (this didn't resonate with me. I've never felt like I needed to be perfect but I've plenty of friends that I know feel this way. We don't have to be perfect. For me, just showing up and putting in some effort is all I ever really ask for).
Another section is devoted to overcoming jealousy. We envy the lives that others have created for themselves. Like some part of our brain believes that there can only be one successful poet or one great oil painter in any particular circle of friends.
We may envy the success of others because we somehow believe that if they are successful, then we can't be. Other people can be successful, but so can we. Even if your brother is a successful crime novelist, if that is something you want to do, his success doesn't bar you from achieving success even in the same field.
Anne Rice is a best selling novelist but her sister published a few well received novels, her husband was a celebrated poet, and her son has been become a very successful writer in his own right.
Your cousin Lucy can be successful. Your great aunt can be successful and you best friend can be successful. None of their success prevents you from becoming successful as well. Don't be jealous. Don't try to tear down others so you feel less small. Just put in your own work and achieve your own success. We can boost one another up and celebrate the victories of those we love.
It can be hard to get started though. Oftentimes we have absorbed critical voices in our childhood that whisper an unending cycle of criticism. The voice tells us that we'll never be able to paint as well as our uncle Sidney; we'll never be able to write as well as our friend Hugh; or we'll never be able to maintain the necessary work ethic of Sarah from our cooking class.
The endless cycle of self criticism and judgment can make it so difficult to get started on anything or to be willing to try anything new or to put ourselves out there and just try.
We need to learn to turn off that critical voice and learn to show ourselves compassion. We need to learn to not judge ourselves harshly and to love ourselves unconditionally.
The journey of self love and self acceptable can be long and difficult. It's a journey I've been on for a very long time. I've gotten better about self compassion, but sometimes that critical little voice will try to weasel it's way back in. I'm getting better at not listening but it's been a long struggle.
Try to remember that we all make mistakes. You are the hero of your journey so try to reframe regrets as trials or obstacles that had to be overcome so that you could become stronger and more resilient.
We all make poor choices, often because of programming from our childhoods. Unlearning those lessons so that we can make healthier choices can be a long journey as well. I still struggle with choosing that which is good for me over that which feels familiar.
I continue working towards the goal of self acceptance. I try to look at the things I do and create as if they were the work of someone else and that actually helps me judge them more kindly. I'm not perfect and I'm ok with that.
We all possess a spark of divinity within us. We are all capable of amazing and delightful things. The hardest thing to do is to look honestly at ourselves and acknowledge that we are wonderful. We are special and that we are worthy of love.
Love affairs can be a lot of work sometimes and the most important love affair of your life is your continuing relationship with you. Love yourself and loving others becomes a little bit easier.
We can be happy for the success of others and still pursue our own dreams. Accept yourself as you are. Find your path and work at evolving into a you that you can love a little bit more every day.