What Self-Love Looks Like

I met “Anne” for tea on Saturday December 2nd in Vancouver and I felt an immediate connection to her the moment we sat down at our table. She’s incredibly pretty with an outgoing and social personality which is somewhat of a contrast to my reserved and quieter approach towards people. We really hit it off with our conversations about our personal lives, our past challenges and future goals…typical openers for a first date I suppose. We met online and weeks prior, we’ve been texting every few days to chat and to know each other more beforehand. Since our first date, things have been going well as we get to know each other even more. I really enjoy talking to Anne and sharing perspectives on things – learning, growing and accepting what we begin to know about each other.

As you all know, I’ve been on a journey starting the last two to three years. I was in a difficult place in my life where a void of self-love, plenty of self-loathing and a lack of self-awareness became my banes in the relationships with my exes. If I’ve learned one thing over the past few years about relationships, is that if there isn’t enough love for thyself, many of our past hurts and triggers will project onto our partners.

Sounds preachy and too out there, right? Self-love…not everyone’s cup of tea for language and conversations. Hey, honestly, I was like that too years ago. What the fuck is self-love? Ya, ya…I have “self-love”…and I love myself, blah, blah, blah…but clearly I didn’t have a grasp of what that looked like.

What self-love looks like

What Does Self-Love mean?

Before you guys give another sigh of “oh no, another post about this mushy self-love shit”, allow me to illustrate it a bit differently:

Imagine a stormy day outside when it’s really cold, extremely windy and raining heavily. More than likely you’ll want to carry an umbrella when you head out into the storm. The umbrella is keeping you dry from getting wet from the cold raindrops and therefore keeping you comfortable.

Now, you also happen to be wearing a hat, heavy coat, warm gloves perhaps and maybe even a scarf. On a cold blustery and rainy day, it’s probably wise to pad on the layers.

In this metaphor, Self-Love is represented by the umbrella. It’s the encompassing big blanket that keeps you dry and shelters you from overall discomfort.

Underneath Self-Love are things such as Self-Care, Self-awareness and Self-Worth, represented by the hat, coat and gloves.

Like the hat, coat and gloves, Self-Care, Self-Awareness and Self-Worth are also necessary to keep you warm and dry. The moment you pop that umbrella open, out comes Self-Love that encapsulates your entire self. You see, in order to have self-love, it’s necessary to have that self-care, awareness and sense of worth. They form the building blocks to overall self-love.

What does Self-care, Self-awareness and Self-worth look like?

This is where it can get fairly deep. When you begin to accept yourself for who you are, these three building blocks can begin to take shape.

I obviously struggled with accepting myself in the past as well which is led to the self-loathing and self-rejection. It resulted in a lot of anger that I projected onto my partners. I could not acknowledge I was abused as a child. I was constantly in denial. I was fuckn’ pissed mad when I talked about my mom and dad. I couldn’t talk about my brother who has schizophrenia, rejecting him even as a relative to me. I got angry and resented my life, blaming others for whatever happened to me. Until I got to a place of peace and acceptance (which does not happen overnight) with myself and my past, that anger continued to follow me.

Today, I accept myself, warts and all. That to me is what self-awareness and self-worth looks like. I take care of myself: I meditate, spend time with my son, I read, I exercise, I know when to relax and have learned to let go because I respect myself enough to know that I need to be selfish sometimes and make time for myself. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired and do something if I’m feeling lonely. I’m not perfect by any stretch and will relapse from time to time with negative thoughts of unworthiness, self-doubt and insecurities. Nor am I righteous because I know I still can do and say things that upsets people or make them feel uncomfortable. But, I’m in a place of forgiving myself for my mistakes. I love who I’ve become and even love myself for my past. No, I didn’t deserve to be bullied or abused, but it’s a circumstance in my life that I accept. I can’t change it, but I’m at peace and can talk about it without feeling pain or getting too triggered (most of the time..)

I love the movie Silver Linings Playbook. In the movie, Jennifer Lawrence’s character teaches Bradley Cooper’s character about what self-love means to her:

“I was a big slut, but I’m not any more. There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself, fucker? Can you forgive?”

I’ve made mistakes in my life but I can truly say that I still love myself because I continue to learn and grow from them by taking accountability for my actions. After about a week of texting Anne and getting to know each other, I openly shared with her about how I was angry and abusive towards my exes. I explained to her how I am accountable for my behaviors and made no excuses for myself. I never tried to justify my actions to Anne, other than I was unhealthy mentally and needed therapy. By telling her so early on in the relationship, I knew there was a possibility of rejection from her. I knew telling her about my anger would be a turn-off and a red-flag. I knew that I was taking a risk of losing a potential opportunity by telling her about my mistakes.

But I needed to own up and I wanted to. I knew I respected myself enough to accept any potential rejections. I knew I couldn’t be dishonest because it would just eat myself up inside, hiding my truths from her. I knew I loved myself enough and accepted myself regardless of my mistakes and it didn’t matter (as much) whether or not Anne would accept me. And lastly, I knew that Anne had a right to know.

As it turns out, she listened without judgment, accepted me and thanked me for my honesty. From that point, I felt a sense of trust and growth inside of me. And from that point, I knew I wanted to explore the possibility of something wonderful and new with her. There’s no crystal ball telling me where this will go…all I know is that I need to to be present, honest and love myself and everything will work out fine for me in the end, regardless of the outcome.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading the book A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson and I’d like to share some great quotes from the book which is filled with wisdom. Happy reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend! – Cheers, Jason

“Our self-perception determines our behavior.”

“A radical forgiveness is a complete letting go of the past, in any personal relationship, as well as in any collective drama.”

“Forgiving the past is an important step in allowing ourselves the experience of miracles. The only meaning of anything in our past is that it got us here, and should be honored as such.”

“We sometimes fail to work on ourselves in the relationships that are right in front of us, thinking that “real life” begins when they get here.” (about waiting for Mr/Ms Right so solve our problems.)

“..the process of personal growth isn’t always easy. We must face our own ugliness. We often must become painfully aware of the unworkability of a pattern before we’re willing to give it up. It often seems, in fact, that our lives get worse rather than better when we begin to work deeply on ourselves. Life doesn’t actually get worse; it’s just that we feel our own transgressions more because we’re no longer anesthetized by unconsciousness. We’re no longer distanced, through denial or dissociation, from our own experience. We’re starting to see the truth about the games we play.”

Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Dragon. Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography.

Published by Jason Lee, Author

There’s something greater to be learned in our journey otherwise life would just be too predictable and I’m not quite willing to accept that!

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