"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely."
This post was inspired by Tara Brach’s awesome guided meditations on self-love.
You feel this sinking anxiety. This fear. It comes in and out throughout your day anytime you have a moment silence. It’s a very subtle, dull pain. Like a bad roommate, it’s bearable most of the time as long as you shut it out and don’t deal with it directly. But what happens when you ignore your roommate for too long? They leave you a nice gift in the form of a sink full of dishes, late night dance parties, and an unflushed toilet.
Do you know how to fix this problem to not let it get worse and happen again? Of course you do. You open up your door and simply talk to them.
Well the constant dull pain you feel is just like that annoying roommate. Except this pain doesn’t come in the form of dirty sinks and toilets. It emanates from those nagging feelings of inadequacy and fears that you aren’t good enough. Fears that you don’t deserve a healthy relationship because you push away anybody who tries to get close to you so you settle for less. Fears that you will never find a better job because you don’t have what it takes to make it on your own. And, even worse, fears that you don’t deserve happiness.
These feelings are like a plague that is seemingly impossible to find an antidote for. A plague that attaches to you and many many people around you – including myself.
I’ve experienced these fears in the worst way as you probably have as well. I’ve suffered through the existential frustrations that my life is meaningless and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve more than felt, but convinced myself that I am not good enough for a healthy relationship, a fulfilling career and general human happiness. I’ve felt that I am just not good enough.
But where do these feelings come from? Did somebody one day run up to all of us and yell in our faces that we are inadequate? That we can’t handle the world? No, because that’s silly and I would punch that guy in the face.
The fears that you feel inside of you also started inside of you. You are the person who convinced yourself that you aren’t good enough so that constant pain keeps poking away at your insides like a slowly growing ulcer. Yet, we all want to find the antidote, but we look for it in every place it’s not – abusive relationships, higher paychecks in unfulfilling jobs, sex, addictions, social media, etc..
However, you can only deal with it in the same way as you did for that annoying roommate. You stop guarding yourself off from it through distraction after distraction and you open up and address it. When you dig through the junk you’ll find that those feelings of inadequacy and fears that you aren’t good enough are coming from the same place. It’s a startling realization at first, and one that is immediately met by a flood of denial. But the feeling is there. It’s the feeling that you do not love yourself.
What is Self-Love?
- Self-Love is recognizing and appreciating the goodness in yourself. It’s being compassionate toward your flaws and mistakes and accepting your weaknesses as much as your strengths. You don’t need other people’s love in order to love yourself.
This may sound cheesy, but entertain it for second. You don’t even need to use yourself as the guinea pig right now – instead, think about someone you know. Do you know somebody who jumps from one abusive relationship to another? Or how about somebody who is so pissed off with their job and you know that they are good enough for something better, but they just can’t muster up the balls to leave?
Of course you know somebody like this – we all do. If they did love themselves, why do they feel that they don’t deserve happiness? After all, you see all of the wonderful qualities about that person, that’s why you love them and that’s why you think they deserve great things. The answer is:
It’s just so easy to see good in those we love, but so damn difficult to see it in ourselves.
Now let’s flip the script and turn this back to you…
Think about the worst person that you know. Yea, the one that just gets deep under your skin. The one you would pretend to be on your phone if you saw them walking down the same empty hallway toward you and would stick out your foot to trip them as they approach the stairs. There’s a laundry list of stuff that just pisses you off about that person that you can rattle off in 5 seconds.
Think of them right now. How do you feel?
Annoyed? Most likely.
Questioning why you’re reading this article? Definitely.
Marinate on this for second: All of those shitty things about that person that were so easy for you to list, there is someone out there who can just as easily name as many or more great qualities about them. Don’t believe me? Remove your bias for a second and try to just think of one good thing about that person. Just one… Got it?
The point of this exercise is not to convince you to befriend your worst enemies (although, if you have “enemies” that may be something to address at another time). It’s to show you that there is goodness in every single person out there no matter how bad they may appear. And if you can see that goodness in them, you should easily be able to see the goodness in yourself.
This is where self-love comes from. It’s putting away all of the crap you THINK you need to change about yourself and recognizing and truly knowing that everything you need is already inside of you. You don’t need to change, you just need to remove the clutter of self-doubts that cover up your immeasurable value to the world and yourself.
Because, in reality, you are good enough, attractive enough, smart enough, witty enough, tall enough, everything enough. The people who love you know this as you know this about them. It’s time you start believing them because it’s absolutely absurd to think otherwise.
Spark Your Growth
This one’s easy...
Write down 5 good reasons why somebody else should love you. They have to be real reasons and not just that you’re a kickass frolf player or something like that. If you can’t think of them quickly, that’s OK - think harder. Trust me, they’re there.
After you listed them out, go through each reason and write down at least one paragraph WHY that is a good reason for somebody to love you. Once you can start to understand why you deserve love from others, it becomes a whole lot easier to see how you can love yourself.
Because there is goodness in you and you deserve love - from other people and, most importantly, from yourself.