Most Of Us Spend Life Standing Outside Of The Self-Love Club
Many of us learned a form of self-love, based on whether we are doing or being a way that fits with our core beliefs about who we should be, what we should do, and how life should work. Then, when we strive to “grow” in self-love, we either set about accomplishing our goals aligning with these core beliefs, or we exchange some other set of circumstances and beliefs to help us feel better about our self. Usually, in the course of life, we outgrow this way of being that used to help us feel self-love, and need to do and be more to feel self loving again. Many of us feel like we spend our lifetime perpetually standing in line at the self-love club. Is this an illusive quality of self-love that we will always have to deal with? I don’t think so, and I want to share what I have learned in my own life. Read on to explore more.
We humans are tricky and sophisticated creatures. We think we are transcending an issue, only to step into another new box, that creates a whole new set of constraints and inner turmoil. I spent much of my life stepping from one trap I have created, into another, in regard to self-love. I have spent a whole lot of time exploring what this is about, and how come I haven’t just finally learned, “self-love”. I have spent hours upon hours doing self-love exercises or activities, meditating, getting psychotherapy and coaching, reading, researching, talking to people, and contemplating what self-love ACTUALLY is, only to usually draw a blank, or eventually throw out any theory I originally generated.
I originally suspected that the reason I didn’t “get” self-love was because of how wounded I have been in my own life. This was my running theory up until about five years ago. I didn’t grow up in the worst family environment, but it is easy to look at my history and find origins to my not loving myself. I grew up in a family and social environment that did NOT encourage me to learn about unconditional love or self-love. I didn’t experience what self-love is, modeled to me through my parents or caregivers. I didn’t get treated in such a way that immediately helped me form a basic sense of Secure Attachment or a sense of trust and calm, in the face of connecting to, caring for myself, and existing in the world. All of these factors, I believed, had set me up for a life where self-love has been somewhat illusive.
Then, at some point, it hit me, and I woke up from that theory of just being the one who doesn’t “get it”. I looked around me and realized that the majority of people I encounter, from all walks of life, have a similar story to me, about not having learned self-love, or what I tended to view as synonymous with Secure Attachment.
Supposedly attachment styles research reports that 50–60% of the population, no matter the geographical location or culture, has Secure Attachment. However, I have come to question whether this statistic is accurate. And, lo and behold, through my scouring attachment research, there is actually very little evidence of this statistic being generalizable, or applicable to the actual, living, diverse population of humans on this planet. There is yet still SO MUCH large scale research that needs to be done, with diverse populations, around the globe, on what Secure Attachment actually is, and who has it.
As of the past few years, I began to truly excavate my own definition for self-love, based on my explorations and life experience. In addition to believing self-love was Secure Attachment, I believed that self-love was an unconditional positive and loving regard a person has for their self, a deep connection one has to their self, and the felt experience of the worthiness of this self fully existing. This deep connection to self and a worthiness, I believed led one to then be motivated to go about life, choosing goals, activities, relationships, contexts, and a lifestyle, that are in alignment with affirming their goodness, loveability, and right to thrive and exist. I believed this manifested as a person having effective and healthy boundaries, deeper self-awareness, a capacity to have a dream or goal, and the confidence and will to carry this into actualization or completion. That while in this process of actualization motivated by self-love, I also expected a self-loving person would have empathy, (self) compassion, a relaxed nature, and a deeper sense of confidence and trust in their self and ability, as well as the supportive nature of others, and life in general. I believed self-loving people were happy and calm, and were highly effective and successful people, who had exceptional presence, amazing relationship, and an exceptional ability to navigate the ins and outs of this world, with minimal failures and maximum success. I believed self-loving individuals were the people who seemed sparkly, shiny, charismatic, and appeared to not get knocked down by life.
Then about a year ago, I began to see how this conception of self-love, which I believe many people ascribe to, consciously or unconsciously, is just another trapping. This self-love is entirely mixed with a perfectionism and idealization that actually makes it impossible for anyone like me to ever attain. Because it posits that somehow we can’t actually enter the self-love club unless we change how us more emotional, intuitive, creative, sensitive, insecurely attached or imperfect people, fundamentally are. I realize I ascribed self-love to being something that most people had missed the boat for, as a part of having dysfunctional childhoods and families, and living in a society/culture that we don’t fit into.
So, I rebelled against this prior definition of self-love and threw it out. I vowed it was time I begin to love myself, now. It was high time I begun to allow myself access to the self-love club. And now I also believe it is important others become aware of how to allow themselves access to this club as well. As a caveat to what I am about to share below, I believe self-love is actually extremely subjective, and what I share is meant to inspire your own exploration of what self-love is for you, where you can allow yourself permission to enter the self-love club NOW, instead of just waiting in line your entire life. What you come to might be (and very likely will be) very different than what I have determined for myself.
I now experience self-love as an ongoing process, rather than a final destination. Self-love is neither something I can possess and have, nor something that I can ever truly lose. I go through ebbs and flows of feeling more in alignment with self-love.
Self-love is my willingness to take responsibility for my feelings, my experiences, and my life. Self-love is my promise to myself to build my courage to face my fear and overcome it. Self-love is the continual process of desiring to know who I am, on a deeper level, and a commitment to myself to overcome the fear and resistance I have to knowing myself more deeply. Self-love is recognizing when I am being hard on myself, and in that process, being willing to honestly acknowledge what I am not happy with inside my self and my life, and yet find some way to accept that this is where I am right now. Self-love is realizing life is happening now, and to imperfectly and messily engage with it. Self-love is the recognition that embracing the now, is all I actually have the ultimate power to do. Self-love is the willingness to surrender control and perfectionism, finding a way to live life that celebrates what my natural experiences, gifts, abilities, personality, hardships and struggles are, because I realize this is a necessary part of living, learning, healing, growing, and gaining wisdom in the context of my own unique human life.
From my process of self-love, I have learned ALL elements of my life, even the deeply painful experiences of stuck-ness and losses, are the very foundation of my learning how to more deeply share my self, gifts and passion with the world.
Nothing is an experience that is not supposed to happen for me, and this is the center point of what I have come to know as self-love.
My hope is that reading what I have shared here, inspires you to find what true self-love is for you, which will give you permission to finally get into the self-love club.