Believe it or not, I was never a proponent of “self-love.” It was hard to take anyone seriously who suggested I needed to love myself – what with the cartoon butterflies circling above their head. What’s next – we’ll live on berries and wood chips under the open sky, singing Kumbaya?
Plus, I did love myself. What’s not to love? I’m adorable, funny, talented, successful, and well-liked; Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you so. (They also told me so whenever I felt like crap about myself).
It was decades before I identified a need for external validation born of fundamental self-loathing. A decade later, there it was again – a higher level of consciousness around the same matter, offering opportunities to overcome.
I’ve done so much work on this that it’s hard to believe I’d still curse myself for losing the car keys, my temper, stuffing my face, or whatever way my humanity presents itself on a given day, but it can happen.
Last night a friend of mine felt distressed that her ninety-year-old mom was depressed. She told her mom to appreciate her awesomeness and to love herself, and her mom said simply, “But I don’t love myself.”
While sad, I respect this 90-year-old gal. At least she’s honest about her self-loathing, which puts her at choice over what to do (or not do) about it.
We’ve evolved to believe that our worth is tied to our professional success or how pleased we make others. For many of us, when those things are in check, we mistakenly think we like ourselves or feel worthy.
Add to that the namby-pamby terminology of “self-compassion” and “self-love,” and it’s enough to make us kick-ass-and-take-names-broads want to vomit.
But, I believe that the vast majority of women really don’t love themselves, nor do they see doing so as a priority. At best, they love themselves conditionally (when they do good or don’t screw up).
One of my mental fitness groups is learning about empathy this week. It’s fascinating to watch people struggle to empathize with themselves. It’s so foreign they sometimes can’t think of what a loving thing to say to themselves would even be!
Here are some of the cataclysmic consequences of unconscious self-loathing (I purposefully use that provocative word because I’m challenging you to investigate what you say to yourself when it’s not your finest hour):
1) It drains emotional energy. There are the mistakes we make, and then there’s the story we tell ourselves about our mistakes. That story is exhausting. It keeps us up at night. It dictates future actions and experiences and creates more draining emotions.
2) When we don’t love ourselves, it impacts our relationships with others. The biggest fallacy that most people have is that it’s okay to beat yourself up, but when we beat ourselves up, it hurts those that love us. It keeps them at a distance.
3) It prohibits us from receiving, which, among other things, robs others of the gift of giving.
4) It causes us to judge others. We only judge other people to the extent that we judge ourselves. Take that one in because it’s true. It’s also true that when someone harshly judges us, it’s born of an unconscious self-loathing they have for themselves.
The moral of this story is that if you want to be less anxious, feel productive and satisfied, have rewarding relationships, attract abundance, and/or upscale your physical health and wellness, love yourself first.
The best place to start is to own up to the areas in your life where you’re less than kind to The one, The only, Lovable YOU.
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