I just celebrated my 38th birthday on Tuesday and I’ve been in a haze ever since. See, I’m not the type of person who parties hard and celebrates for days. I’m the reverse, birthday’s are somewhat painful for me because they bring up a lot of memories from childhood and then there are the societal expectations that are constantly thrown your way relative to your age.
You should be married, you should have kids, you should… blah, blah, blah!
When people say these things to others, I really just want to throat punch them yet when they say them to me, I internalize them and start to see myself as a failure (which I’m not!)
Over the years, I’ve worked hard not to do things:
Not to judge my life on others expectations and standards
Not to surround myself with people who are so rigid in their world view that the people who don’t “fit” into their mold, are somehow doing it wrong.
Not beat myself up for doing things different than everyone else around me
I’ve also worked VERY HARD on loving myself and not resenting my journey.
(This is an on-going thing as long as I’m living, this work will NEVER be done!)
I’ve found that self-love is a not a destination; it’s a practice. Self-love is the foundation on which we build a happy life. Without self-love, we have nowhere to put the love or abundance that comes to us.
Start with your body!
Experiencing burn-out brutally taught me that the first way to love myself is to listen to my body. Thich Nhat Han, the zen celebrated Buddhist teacher once said, “the body is the home of the feelings.”
Before saying yes, I tune into how it is feeling, by simply closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths.
My body has also been the source of gratitude and appreciation.
Getting to know it, makes me realize how resilient it is, and patient when I abuse it.
I no longer think about it as fat or slim. Why would I? It is much more than that. In turn I do not judge myself as often about my weight and body shape which FEELS GOOD!
Get the shame out of the closet!
In getting to know and face my shortcomings and vices, I found them buried deep under the lava of shame. A volcano that erupted at a shameful event or situation in my life, left dried lava covering the vastness of my heart.
The thing about shame is that it intrinsically puts you in an isolated situation which makes it impossible to get out of it.
And the only way to start healing is to connect with others through talking about it. Brenee Brown (one of my favorite authors) refers to it as courage. It also makes you realize that we ALL share the same feelings, so nothing is especially wrong with you.
To practice what I am talking about, this is the first time I share publicly some of the things I am ashamed of. This is part of loving myself, by freeing myself of this weight.
I can express anger at times when I do not get what I want or need.
I still experience fears of abandonment when I am in relationships.
Learn to be with your pain!
My worst enemy on this journey, has been impatience. YES. I want to not feel these difficult emotions anymore. I want to love myself all the time.
My impatience throws me into doubt. And then I give up for a few days, binge on Instagram stalking, comparing and self-hating and eating all the things.
It turns out that there is no magic formula in eradicating wounds and traumas.
But part of loving oneself is showing up to them.
The progress in this case is not the eradication of emotions, but staying put with the feelings and attending to them, which is the hardest in my experience, yet ultimate way to love yourself.
This is where asking for help is key. I often seek for the support of friends and different communities I am part of.
The ultimate love of oneself, accepting that you are weak and vulnerable and instead of stabbing yourself with a second and a third arrow, you start by doing one small thing to make you feel loved.
No one else can offer these things to us. No one else can take our vitamins for us or prevent us from going into a self-loathing attack.
Even if we land the best partner on the planet, this person won’t be able to make us happy and feel loved unless we create the space for it inside by practicing self-love. This is why self-love is an inside job.
From my heart to your heart, you are beautifully made!