Finding Your Way to Self-Love
by Rob Brookler
It’s the puzzle we all face as we go about healing and restoring a wounded self-esteem. We want to value and love ourselves more completely. We certainly know the anguish when those old feelings of worthlessness creep in. We even know the areas where we’re most "sensitive" and self-critical. But how on earth do we get from these wincing, self-negating feelings to feelings of self-love? How do we love ourselves when in many ways we so painfully don’t?
If you’re experiencing this frustration, don’t be discouraged. In finding your way to self-love, it will often seem like "you just can’t get there from here." This apparent impasse is absolutely to be expected.
And here’s why. To feel love and to feel that healthy sense of self, we must first feel full and nourished. The problem of course is that these self-negating feelings prevent us from being properly fed and filled. This is particularly true when these wounded feelings run deeply to our sense of self, our self-image, our very identity. Because we primarily "see" ourselves through this wounding -- as not enough (not perfect enough, not thin enough, not accomplished enough, not "together" enough, etc.) -- we deprive ourselves of that fundamental, ongoing nourishment we need to experience that sense of being enough.
And there’s our double-bind. We cannot see our worthiness to be filled; and we cannot fill ourselves to see our worthiness. So how do we get there from here?
The Bridge to Self-Love
Fortunately, there is an intermediate step, a "position" that bridges the divide between that deficit state of self-rejection and your natural full sense of self and self-love. It’s a position that helps us begin to be nourished, despite the self-negating feelings, so we’re able to revive and reawaken that innate sense of being okay and being enough.
And that intermediate position is self-acceptance and self-compassion. Unlike that mysterious, faraway land of self-love, this intermediate position is surprisingly easy to find ... and surprisingly powerful.
Self-acceptance and compassion is not about trying to convince yourself that you’re beautiful or successful (or whatever), when your wounded feelings are currently telling you that you’re not. And it’s certainly not about exhausting yourself trying to fix what’s "wrong" with you so that you satisfy that harsh, perfectionistic view. Neither of these responses does much to nourish you.
Moving into this intermediate position requires nothing more than treating yourself patiently and compassionately in response to these painful feelings and painful moments. Let’s be clear here. You’re not denying these wounded feelings. And you’re not denying that they’re painful. You’re simply responding to these painful feelings in a different way.
Serving ’You’ Rather than Your Wounded Feelings
You’re adopting a different "position." You’re taking a step back and acknowledging that, as real as these wounded feelings seem, they are in fact simply that: wounded feelings. They are feelings being generated by a wounded place. They’re not actually giving you accurate information about your worthiness. They’re simply alerting you to a hurt, wounded place.
And in response to that hurt place, you choose first and foremost to be gentle, understanding and healing toward yourself.
Again, note the distinction. Instead of collapsing into these false, self-negating feelings – instead of believing them, treating yourself as a rotten person, and pushing yourself even harder -- you choose to treat yourself with respect, care and compassion. You respond to this painful signal by applying kindness and understanding to this painful place.
Remember, restoring your self-esteem is not about "fixing" yourself. It’s about feeding yourself. Your job is not to satisfy this "wounded" view of yourself or your life. Your job is to address the wound underlying it: to nourish the deprived, judged place at the root of it. And you do this by moving to this place not with harshness but with patience and compassion.
In fact, that urgency and harshness to fix yourself is a symptom of your wounded self-esteem. This harsh approach to yourself is a repetition of the wounding, rejecting behavior. So when you choose instead to treat yourself calmly and compassionately, you’re actually breaking that pattern of self-harshness. When you can step back and begin to be patient and accepting of yourself, despite what you "think" is wrong with you, that real sense of you begins to be nourished. It wakes up. And as you continue this approach, your healthy sense of self grows stronger and stronger.
And just to be clear. Self-acceptance does not preclude you from taking positive action for your growth and advancement ... or even making necessary changes in your life. In fact, these efforts require you to be especially supportive, patient and approving towards yourself. This is the very fuel you need to heal, make changes, and advance.
An RX for those Painful Moments of Self-Rejection
Needless to say, compassion and patience will probably not be your initial impulse when that feeling of worthlessness first rears its ugly head. Again, initially we’ll want to collapse into these painful emotions. So when this happens, we need to pull ourselves back just a bit and remember that these are not accurate feelings. These are wounded feelings directing you to a wounded place. Let the discomfort remind you to be gentle and healing with yourself.
Consider it a prescription for these difficult moments. And the more reactive and painful these places are, the more compassionate, gentle and patient you need to be with yourself. (You might also add a dose of lightness to this prescription.)
The difficulty, the conundrum, we face in learning to love ourselves is that the especially painful feelings associated with wounded self-esteem have the unfortunate ability to "erase" our sense of self and self-worth altogether ... so that, in effect, we can find no self to love.
We must be prepared for this very "human" reaction to our wounding. And find compassion for it. Fortunately, patience and compassion are acts of love. Particularly when they’re directed toward yourself. And this small step will begin immediately to bring you back to you: back to fullness and back to love.
For a full list of audio meditations to complement this article, click audio meditations home.
Copyright 2011 Planetwide Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.Meditations2Go.com.
Disclaimer: All content on this website, including texts, articles, and audio meditation recordings, is general information, and is not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, or other professional advice. It is the responsibility of the user to evaluate the completeness or usefulness of any information, opinion, advice or other content available through the Meditations2Go website and products.BACK TO FULL LIST OF ARTICLES