We’re talking about self-love a lot lately. Thank goodness, because we sure weren’t talking about it when I was growing up. It integrates into almost every conversation I’m having with my colleagues, clients, and friends these days. And as big topics go, sometimes things can get a little skewed and dysmorphic as we seek to understand and apply the principles.
Straight up: I think loving yourself is very, very important. It makes you a more solid, happy, centered person. Self love can help you take care of your needs, eradicate co-dependency, help you stand strong when the chips are down, and be a better, all-around person.
But self love is not the holy grail.
There’s lots of insistence out there to have a solid base and ever-expanding amount of “self love.” The message is that if your life is a mess or you are making poor choices, it’s because you lack self love. And if you had more of it, you’d be happier, make better decisions, make more money, and choose better relationships.
That’s a lot of pressure, y’all. It makes us feel like we better hurry up and GET SOME so we can fix our lives. The message is always: love yourself more. And we know we don’t. At least not enough. So we’re thrust into a state of scarcity and a low-grade anxiety with the guilt that we’re letting ourselves down. Yet again. We scramble to amass as much self love as we can to rescue our underdeveloped, anemic self esteem.
This is the shadow-side of the self love message.
Overall, the current awareness around self-love is a helpful one, and those of us who are talking about it and promoting it have really good intentions. But I think we have to temper it with some balance, namely, that self love is only one partof living a healthy, wholesome, spiritual life. And we must discuss the order of things: that good, healthy choices come from a place of self-respect first. And from those good choices, self-love grows. Not the other way around.
Self-love is the beautiful, hand-beaded gown (or impeccable Tom Ford tuxedo) you get to wear to the ball of life. It opens up the access to living a life of freedom, creativity, and contribution. It is cultivated over time by consistently making decisions that promote your self-respect, personal worth, and authenticity.
So this is my point: self-love is a process, built layer by layer, one tiny decision after another, over time. It blooms slowly over weeks, months, years. The good news is you have enough of it, RIGHT NOW, to do anything you want in life. You want to start a business, change jobs, leave a painful relationship, have a hard conversation with your mother, find a new partner, set new boundaries for yourself, launch a creative endeavor: You have enough self-love right now to do that. And whatever you lack in self-love, GRACE will cover. Grace is the heavenly elixir that holds your world and my world together as we grow. Just ask for it and you will be infused with the strength, clarity, and love to make the right choices for yourself. This doesn’t mean that life will be a perfect yawning chasm of brilliant decisions, but you are safe, and your well-being is not solely dependent upon you having enough self-love.
“The amount of love I have for myself right now is enough for everything I need to be and do in this moment.”
Say this over and over. Does it make your soul feel good?
I don’t care if you’ve made every mistake under the sun, sabotaged yourself a million times, have gone from one shitty relationship to another, and have never heard of self-love until today. YOU are enough, and the love you have for yourself right now is enough. You can turn yourself and your situation around even if you’re bankrupt in the self-love department. As you go through your life, your self love will grow in direct proportion to the way you treat your self, others, and circumstances with respect.
Give yourself time. Be patient with yourself. Listen to your gut. Keep your promises to yourself. Show yourself compassion. And remember: you are enough.