Sometimes your best-friend says something and it resonates and sinks directly into your heart. To the depth of your soul. You blink. It takes a minute to process. Then you say, “Yes. A thousand times yes.” Know what she said?
“Love yourself where you are at.”
Those words were spellbinding to me. They hit me at a time when I desperately needed to hear them and was ready to hear them. Ready to take those six words to heart. To mull them over and let them swirl in my mind and absorb them in every pore. Those words were food for my soul, for my heart, right when I needed it.
When we think about it, we don’t often love ourselves. Or we think we do, but deep down we have that critical inner voice that stomps all over any love or positive feeling that we feel.
Maybe we just don’t know what truly loving ourselves really means. Many of us don’t truly know how to love ourselves exactly where we are at in our lives right now. Because that’s not an easy thing to do. We get so caught up in what’s going on in our lives or what’s going to happen or what did happen and just worrying about everything, that we forget about what’s happening in and at this very moment. And many of those times we forget to be gentle with ourselves. To truly love our own self.
So, what does it mean to love yourself?
See, I use to think loving yourself was selfish. That somehow it was not okay to feel love toward yourself. Or the love I had was actually superficial, not truly deep love. Now I just want to grab that young girl and say, “Honey, it’s okay. Show some love to yourself. Be gentle with your heart and mind. Stop trying to please everyone else. You deserve love.”
You deserve love. We all deserve love. And it is absolutely not selfish.
But I went on in my life, worrying about anything and everything. Making decisions out of fear, not out of love. Worrying about what everyone else thought my decisions. Thinking and trying to love myself, but really I was insecure and unsure about everything. Like, all of it. And that insecurity… It is a beast. It drives us to worry way more than we need to. We worry how we look, that we aren’t in control of our emotions all of the time, worry that we aren’t parenting perfectly, that we aren’t performing the best in school, that we aren’t good at sports, that we aren’t smart enough, that we are just unsure about everything – worry, worry, worry. If you let it, insecurity with all of it’s worry and self doubt will fill every single pore in your body and control every thought in your mind. And that’s exactly what it did with me. And learning to turn off that negative self talk (you know, that voice in your head that makes you doubt EVERYTHING) took some time. A long time. But I did it and you can too.
One of the “big picture” things I’ve learned over the last year is that loving yourself isn’t selfish. Loving yourself is a beautiful thing to do.
Because you are beautiful.
You are wonderful.
You are deserving of love.
We all deserve love and we all deserve to love ourselves, no matter what we have done or been through.
And loving yourself doesn’t mean being prideful and arrogant. Loving yourself means really, truly accepting who you are. And to love yourself where you are at means to accept who you are right now. You don’t have to be who you once were or who you want to be, you only need to be the you that you are right now. And to love and accept you.
We get so caught up in wanting to be who we once were or just spending all of our time figuring out who we want to be, that we miss out on who we are right now. And we miss out on showing love to that person who needs it most. You.
Here’s the realization and the perspective. We never were, nor will we ever be perfect. I have never been perfect, never handled things perfectly, never will. Because there is no perfect. There only is, what is. What is here right now? Love.
If we start with truly loving and accepting ourselves, then we can start to love others more wholly and completely. We can turn fear into love. I did it, and I know you can as well.
Because we have the power to do this within ourselves. You have the power to do this within yourself.
Whether you are healthy or sick, happy or depressed, sure of yourself or full of anxiety, not knowing how you are going to make it to the next paycheck or making the big bucks. Whether your skin is flawless or splotchy full of acne, whether your hair is curly or straight, or you are short or tall or somewhere in the middle. Whether you are single or in a relationship or in a bad relationship figuring out how to get out. Whatever is going on in your life right now, you have the ability to find that love for yourself in your heart and in your mind.
Everything changed for me after being diagnosed with cancer. Every. Single. Thing. Some external things are the same, but everything inside me changed. At first that change was scary and I couldn’t see the big picture yet. I’m still not sure I see the entire big picture. But it feels like it is finally coming into view. Like my life is one giant mural and I’m slowly backing up and seeing more and more of it each and every day. But what has come into view is this… I now love myself. Just as I am. Where I am at. Worrying about the past or the future won’t do any of us any good. I made conscious efforts to let go of a lot of the past. Let go of a lot of painful things from the past that made me angry and frustrated and un-trusting and held me back from just simply being me. It also held me back from loving more. Because it’s hard to love when we feel angry, ya know.
Know this – it is possible to have a new relationship with yourself. My hope is that you work on starting to love yourself so that don’t have to go through a life altering cancer diagnosis to do it.
It doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck in a situation and not change. I think you need to make plans, but I also think you need to be open to where the future takes you. And to appreciate the experiences you have had, whether good or bad. And know that you are who you are, and you are worthy of love no matter what you have experienced in life.
So, how do you start? Loving yourself doesn’t mean that everything is all happy all the time. It doesn’t mean that you have to be happy all of the time. True happiness does come from within. It doesn’t mean laughing and giggling all the time – though that can happen. But it’s more of a true contentedness that resides inside you and resonates through you. It’s inner peace and it’s love.
You are not some picture that got posted on the internet. You are not a bad haircut. You are not the person you were 20 years, 10 years, 2 days or one minute ago. You are who you are right now and you are amazing. Take a deep breath and say that to yourself. And if that negative voice in your head speaks up to tell you that you aren’t amazing. Simply tell it to stop. Literally, say it out loud. And say “stop!” every time that negative voice speaks up. And you keep telling yourself that you are amazing and that you deserve love. Even if you don’t believe it right now. Even if you feel dumb saying it. You have the power to retrain your mind to be a more positive place. It starts slow, but if you keep it up I guarantee you, the positive will start to become a part of you and the negative thoughts will begin to slow.
Start slow, but just start. Be where you are at and find that love and acceptance for yourself in your heart.
Love yourself where you are at.