Let’s all put on our palazzo pants get real about something: We do not live in a world that wills or wants us to love ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong- love sells. The breath stealing, unfathomable whirlwind of being wanted, well, that’s a different story. Shut up and take our money! So they do. So they will.
The problem isn’t that these messages, these ads and the pull of the products that go along with them exist. It’s that we genuinely believe them, consume mindlessly, and still come up impossibly empty. To genuinely believe is to be wrapped in the silk of safety, warm and carefree; to be deceived, to lose warmth, is to grow cold.
What we need is a little radical self love, and I want to share with you 5 ways in which I practice this.
(If you’re thinking I’m about to suggest chanting and braiding your pubes, hear me out. You don’t need to stop using, doing or being anything. There’s nothing wrong with taming the frizz that kisses the folds of your hair, but haven’t you missed the smell of rain? After all, you’ve spent years ducking inside to hide whenever it came to visit.)
- The first way that I know of to get your self-love on is to take up the invitations extended by people who love you. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel pretty tempted to hole up and head inward, dousing your psyche in visions all that could go horribly awry. “What if I go and they’re all douchebags? What if I say something totally offhand? What if nobody talks at all and we turn the situation into a monastery for the awkward?” Look homie, it’s just your anxiety talking. Chances are good that the person who asked you to come already knows you’re a loose cannon with a deranged sense of humour, and that they adore you for it. Here’s the other thing: It makes other people feel good when you show up, and you should do a lot more of it.
2. This one is super boring; it’s getting some goddamn rest. It turns out that sleep isn’t just for the weak, y’all! It’s also for people who would like to maintain a shred of sanity!The first thing we need to get rid of is the glorification of ‘tired.’ There’s this idea that it’s a demonstration of commitment to stay up all hours consumed by our to-do lists, and it’s not. It’s a lack of respect for ourselves. We’re putting what we ‘should’ be doing over the recovery of our being. I recommend honouring the body and the spirit by coaxing yourself to slumber and rising at the same time both morning and evening. Take it a step crunchier by misting your sheets and pillows with lavender spray.
3. The third thing I recommend is unplugging when you need to. (If you’re wondering how you’ll know when that is, it’s probably right now.) It’s easier than ever to fall into the comparison trap. You’re keeping up with the Jones’, alright. In an instant, you know what they’re doing, where they’re vacationing, who your mutual friends are, when they poop etc. In an instant, you’re reminded how little you’re doing with your life; the vacations you can’t afford to take, the friends you don’t have because you’re staying home, eating cheez-its and creeping on the Jones’, and the constipation that plagues you on the regular. Too far? Too far, indeed. Time to reach for things that make you glad to be alive. Walk your dog, pluck a flower, eat a poutine, sit on a bench and wait for a bus that you know isn’t coming. Observe that there is a lot to your seemingly simple life, and that you quite like it.
4. Something I’ve taken up in a mad frenzy is complimenting people. Everywhere I go, I try to interact with and sincerely remark on something I find unique about someone. I won’t lie, this takes chutzpah. In fact, I very rarely look cool doing it. I have a hard time stringing words together audibly, and sweating excessively under pressure is sort of my thing. Still, I have hope that one day I will be a cool cucumber in the business of making other people smile.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this is that the more I practice, the more connections I make, the less lonely I feel, and the more stunning features and noble qualities I notice in other people, even those I’m just meeting. Sometimes I even like to imagine that I’ve just met myself, and I make a valiant effort to notice hers the most.
5. The last big way I know of to cradle yourself in your own adoration is to become inspired by any means necessary. It’s my belief that we limit ourselves when hunting the hunger for something more because we try to control it. We want to believe we’re the kind of people who are sophisticated in our desires, avoiding some of the very things that allow us to return to ourselves. Someone has a song that bellows over his speakers and out of his lungs when he hits the highway alone, and it’s same one he turns down as he approaches a red light. Someone else tears holes in the thought of taking an art class because her scrapbooking skills make doves cry.
I wish they knew that passion is the birth of skill.
I want to make a couple of things clear: the first is that I’m not a pro at any of these things, particularly the sleep bit. Personal growth is the sort of shit that happens slowly and deliberately, and I still find it very difficult to trust the process. I just know that when I do these things, I feel a little more like myself.
The other is that you will be as clumsy and brilliant in this endeavour as any other. Expect your voice to crack, and expect the urge to use it more often. Expect terrible days, and expect the growing ability to recognize them as just that- terrible days. Expect to feel embarrassed and tired as often as you are dizzy with freedom and joy. Expect to encounter resistance and fear as much as love and gratitude.
This journey is terrifying; maddening even. For every rolling hill, there’s a crater in which you’ll roll your ankle. But something happens when you befriend yourself. You become curious, and receptive to what it has to say. And what it says is
‘I am not here to make you happy. I am here to make you whole.’