Do you fully love yourself?
I can honestly say that after 14 years of personal development work, I do not. I do not love myself fully and unconditionally. Sure, I've made great strides in this area but I'm not where I prefer to be.
Recently I began looking closely at my motivation and I asked myself:
"Why am I judging myself? Why am I criticizing myself? Why am I beating myself up? Why am I choosing to do what I do, believe what I believe, and hold onto these destructive patterns the way I'm holding onto them? Why am I ultra-focused on my body? Why haven't I accepted the bumps and imperfections and fat and sun-damaged skin? Why do I feel the need to punish myself? What is holding me back from truly loving myself, fully and unconditionally?"
Its a lot, I know. A lot of questions. Yet the only way I can make the changes I say I want to make is to ask the questions, cultivate a sense of curiosity, explore gently my inner world, and then speak the truth of it to myself.
Did any of the above questions resonate with you?
We are not loving ourselves fully and unconditionally because we are holding onto a belief that says the alternative is worse.
Read that again.
We are holding onto a belief that says, loving myself unconditionally carries with it some effects I don't prefer, that I believe are more negative than what I'm experiencing by continuing to experience a lack of self-love.
What do you believe would be so bad about loving yourself that you refuse to do it?
You, we, the majority of us, are refusing to love ourselves fully and unconditionally because somehow the alternative is worse.
What are you believing to be true?
It's a matter of finding out why you would believe the alternative, that loving yourself, would be worse than not loving yourself.
Why would doing something different (loving yourself fully and unconditionally) be worse than what you're doing now (self-judgment, self-criticism, self-hatred), as painful as it may be?
Is not loving yourself safer?
Is not loving yourself less alienating to people?
Is not loving yourself making you more like everyone else so you don't have to feel too different?
What are you afraid might happen if you truly and deeply and unconditionally loved yourself?
When you answer those questions honestly, then you can begin to change the belief to one you prefer, to one that moves you into love for yourself.
In my willingness to understand, I discovered some beliefs that weren't so surprising. Beliefs that say people will judge me, I will be abandoned, I won't fit in, I won't be the person people expect me to be, and I will make people uncomfortable.
But I also uncovered the beliefs that I must conform and be accepted and that loving myself will look bad on my parents. What????
These two beliefs sent my exploration in a direction I wasn't expecting it to go. Back to my ancestors, my family that immigrated from Ireland, Portugal, and Italy many years ago. Like all immigrants, they needed to assimilate to their new surroundings and the new culture. They learned to conform. To survive, to thrive, to find employment and a community, they needed to fit in. Not be different, not stand out, not be fully themselves, but rather be the way the culture and society expected them to be. To look a certain way, act a certain way, and be a certain way.
To fully love myself means to stand in my power, my integrity, my truth, my weirdness, my uniqueness, my colors, and my light.
I was taught, through the generations, through my family lineage, not to do that! I remember so clearly the many times my mother said to me, "Stop doing that. People are looking at you." I love my mother deeply and I don't blame her for this. She was simply doing what she was taught.
So is it no surprise why I, and others like me, don't love ourselves fully and unconditionally when so much of what we were taught was conditional?
For the moment I am still holding myself to those standards and expectations which means that if I am truly myself and love myself for being me, then I stand out from the crowd and run the risk of being rejected.
THIS my friends, is how deep the negative, fear-based beliefs run. It is only when you can move your awareness to your core can you uncover those things that hold you back from loving yourself.
So allow for the deep dives with playful curiosity and loving awareness so that you too can move back into full love and acceptance of who you really are.
In peace, light, and inspiration,
Self-Awareness and Transformational Coach, Inner Child Advocate, and Yin Yoga Teacher.