Self-Love Is Not the Answer
I don’t believe self-love is the answer. Not because I don’t believe in love, but because for some of us, we never experienced what it was like to be loved for who we are.
So, someone telling a person to just ‘love themselves’ when they don’t know what that feels like can be crazy-making. It can exacerbate self-loathing.
The only way I have ever made any lasting, long-term difference in how I treat myself (and by extension, how my life and people treat me) is when I meet and accept myself exactly as I am, with no quiet, furious, or desperate hope that it’ll fix what’s ‘wrong with me.’
By figuring out how to give up the illusion of what I am convinced is wrong with me and instead wrestle with the grace of accepting myself exactly as I am.
By flushing myself with ‘rightness.’
The irony is self-acceptance looks and feels a lot like self-love and self-respect. It feels like being home in one’s skin.
But this is a much more emotionally and psychologically doable game for me to play than the trying-to-fix-what’s-wrong-with-me-over-and-over-so-I-can-feel-worthy-of-love, game.
Because the truth is, I can’t TRY to love myself. When I try, I end up exacerbating the inner noise that tells me I am not worthy of love.
I can only learn how to BE loving with myself. As Esther Perel says, love is a verb. So learning the actions of what love feels like to me, in resonance with my system, IS self-love. It’s self-care.
It’s literally what it means to re-parent myself.
So no, I don’t focus on loving myself. I am one of those people that, growing up, never got to know what love looked like or felt like.
But I do now.
I focus on self-acceptance. I focus on listening to myself - really listening to myself. I focus on respecting myself. And I learn ongoing on a body level how to accept myself exactly as I am and exactly as I’m not. That ends up being self-love.
But I’ve never been able to get to that from the front door. I’ve only ever been able to get to it from the bottom up.