What comes up when you look in the mirror and tell yourself “I love you”? Seriously, I started playing around with this one. Hell, you don’t need a mirror. It feels weirdly strained, and makes me a little self-conscious. It’s certainly confronting. But what if I told myself this, in the same way I tell my partner? The consequence of self-hatred appears to be an inability to care for oneself – but what happens when you tell yourself “I love you”? Do you feel obliged? Unworthy? What is revealed?
And if you do feel obliged – to do what? If you feel a sense of pity, or loneliness, what then? Compassion? Do you think you should be exercising more – or less? What is required to take care of yourself? Are you starving yourself? Do you believe in deprivation to earn worth? And how is that working out? Does deprivation improve your sense of self-worth, or worsen it? How would you take care of a loved one? And how would you expect someone else to respond to the implementation of tough love? How do you respond to it – is it real?
We are taught to strive, to shoot for success, and many of us can imagine nothing worse than feeling like a failure. But what if failing at something did not mean being subjected (by yourself or others) to judgement and ridicule? What if you are capable of loving yourself even when you’re failing, even when you’re struggling? When do you need love? When you’ve got everything sorted out and running smoothly? Or when you’re struggling against hardship and adversity? Are you going to reward yourself with love and respect only when you succeed? When will you know you’ve arrived? Once you form the habit of self-hatred and judgement, at what point can you start to change? And what happens when you fail at something again? With failure, do you lose your sense of self-respect, love and care, or do you realise that even though you failed before and you will again – you still deserve love?
If you cannot accept yourself now – if not now, when? And accepting yourself as you are – does that mean you will never grow, never develop? Does fear arise? You can’t accept yourself yet, because you’re not acceptable? Acceptance and stasis are not the same. You are not a static state. You are a human. Change is inevitable. But which way? It is our hatred, not our love, that makes us fearful and mistrustful of acceptance. When you accept yourself as you are, and in time, decide to care for yourself truly, what does it mean to exercise and eat well? Or to rest? If you are afraid that acceptance will result in your training less - in being less hard on yourself - what do you really have to fear? What does it mean to fall prey to health programs that exploit your fears? Would you allow someone else to bully your child for their own good? For health? Or would you seek out another way – one that didn’t harm more than it helped?
Is discipline helpful, or is it a hindrance? Is what was once helpful, still helpful? Or has it, like all things, changed?
What if you worked at seeing beauty just as hard as you work at the pursuit of beauty? What if you start to shift your activities away from what makes you feel like a failure, and towards what makes you feel good? What if you could disarm failure, and cease to fear it – because you disassociate failure and worthlessness? Because even if you’re not the person you wish you were – you can still recognise your worth? And what might you achieve when you cease to fear failure? And where have the goal-posts moved to, when you’re motivated not by a feeling of worthlessness, but by fearlessness?
And if you don’t have to qualify for your own love, others won’t have to qualify either. You won’t stop loving people (yourself and others) because they let you down. Instead you’ll have compassion. And so you increase your capacity to both give and receive love, unconditionally.