Self-love is not a hug you give yourself as instructed by a teacher at a yoga class.
Self-love is not indulging in chocolate, wine, and a bath.
Self-love is not shopping Versace or Steve Madden.
It is not heavy makeup and shiny boots.
It’s not a lighter shade of hair or a tanner shade of skin.
I have seen and experienced all these forms, and they had nothing to do with real self-love. It was just a self-fooling dream.
There is so much talk and opinions and tips about the concept of self-love.
But the truth is that self-love in the ways we know or we preach about it is superficial. It’s unstable. Shaky. Ungrounded.
Superficially, we can give to our beings all the love in the world the way we think we should.
But that’s not enough.
Usually what we crave deep within might be completely different from what we thought we wanted.
The way I see it, self-love means to touch the depths of the uncomfortable within—it is to taste the flavor of saying “No” many, many times, to friends and families and lovers.
It is to see how your inner energy is changing, failing all your deadlines and goals that you hoped to reach by the end of a year or a month.
It is to accept the desperate need for solitude and withdraw from others for hours or days—even if that makes you feel weird or selfish or unloved.
It is to see the shadows of your personality with curiosity and invite them to the table to be seen as you invite the qualities others love the most about you.
It is showing to other people the darkest and the most depressed parts of you—even when it feels scary or when you think others may abandon or refuse you.
Self-love is when you feel no love for yourself, when you feel numb within, when things or your being do not make sense, and you still allow all of that to simply exist in its own right.
Self-love is when you feel no love for yourself but are open to receiving grace from the infinite intelligence that keeps your heart beating and your brain functioning well—and allowing your chest to crack of pain.
Self-love, I’m finding, is not really something we, as we think about it, give to ourselves.
Real self-love is a source of graceful and loving presence that we discover as we drop our need to love ourselves superficially or to show others we are confident.
When things get tough, that’s where we usually will see the delusion of what we thought self-love was.
When things get tough, when we get sick, when plans don’t work anymore, when the energy that gives you life slows down beyond measure, when you lose money, when you become homeless, when you go bankrupt, when someone you love abandons you—these are golden opportunities to truly see with open eyes, grounded in reality.
We often will discover we don’t.
Because self-love is not something we do.
It is something that naturally comes to us when we are in tune with our inner rhythms, when we respect our inner seasons as they come and go, when we accept our flaws for what they are, and when we look at our dark shadows in the eye instead of projecting them out.
Real self-love is when you take difficult decisions and make uncomfortable choices and set uneasy boundaries, in order to give space to your inner world to rest, develop, and grow organically with every beat of your heart.
Self-love is acknowledging the presence of sadness and depression or any deep phenomena happening within you and giving them space to unfold without the need to numb them with “self-love” in the form of excessive shopping, expensive dinners with friends, partying—the list goes on.
Self-love is you feeling unlovable and unloved, feeling a disaster within—messy, f*cked up, not knowing where you are heading, bare-faced, with no desire to do anything—and still showing a little bit of compassion for your being in those states, as you would for a friend who is suffering.
We cannot force self-love. We cannot force self-confidence. We cannot force our inner states to be any different.
We certainly need to allow those parts of us that have grief to grieve, those that have pain to release the energy of pain through suffering for a while.
We cannot feel self-love through loving others or adding things to our lives.
Love is not something we grab or hold onto. Love is not a thing or something we do.
Love is a state of inner acceptance that is gentle and genuine. It does not ask you to change or be different. It asks nothing of you but to keep your chest cracked when it cracks or keep your heart open, even when it hurts.
It asks you to allow the many facets of your being to unfold as they are in totality, without shutting down because of fear or shame.