Yes. It is a fearless act to love myself.
Love is like joy, I believe.
Unlike happiness, joy, as I have experienced it, is not really an emotion, but an awareness.
When I am aware of joy, I am nearer to something like contentment than happiness.
I may not feel great in the moment I recognize joy, but I am likely able to see the abundance in my life, and open to gratitude for all that has paved the way for me to be where I am in the present moment, without feeling sublime.
With the inspiration of Yoga Healer founder, Cate Stillman, I now have sticky notes in all the important places that simply say, “ease.” I see the word ease, and because it is the feeling I most desire to cultivate, I remember that in order to feel easy, in order to manifest it, I need believe it is possible, in this moment, right now.
This is not to force any sort of round self into some desirable square hole I long to fit in. Instead, it is a reminder that,
If I am where I am, which I most certainly and always am, and I open myself up to the possibility that there is goodness in this moment, opportunity for love and learning, for self-acceptance and transformation, the above mantra is much more easily digestible. It becomes like my breath. I am unaware of the exact words, I fully accept reality, and am eager to take in everything around me.
It is in these moments I catch myself uttering momentarily regrettable prayers like, “bring it,” or “continue to reveal to me my own biases,” or “show me when I speak over others so I can catch myself.” Often, these prayers are answered…
Joy is like that. To be joyful, I believe, requires acknowledging reality.
This includes the pain of ourselves, others and the world, deep and dark emotions, anger, regret, confusion, and fear. It also includes the mundane, daily tasks so easily looked over we forget they can actually be acts of #fearlessselfcare!
And, joy it includes fleeting happiness, genuine sense of belonging, courage, and our personal markers of success. Reality includes it all. So if joy includes the dark stuff, the light, shiny sparkly stuff and everything in between, I can see it as possibly non-fluxuating, non-emotional.
Joy, then, is acceptance. Joy is contentment with where I am, and who I am today, plus the belief that I am where I need to be, and that here, or on the path that I am now traveling, I can prosper.
Back to Love.
Love then, unlike liking (a preference), can also be a grounding, stable experience, a truth, a way of being (not necessarily doing) rather than an emotion.
Love moves beyond like, agree? Loving another drives us to do things we may not do for someone we like, but do not love….Sure, there are many ways to love and other expressions of the word, love.
Here are a few: admiration, loyalty, commitment, giddiness, butterflies, exuberance.
Here are a few more: acceptance, trust, letting go, respect, patience, non-assumption, space.
It took me many unwanted months of deep, dark reality to discovery that second batch. What happened when I did, was what I can only describe as a softening, an opening within me. Simultaneously I accepted that darkest saddest reality I could have imagined at that time and I was filled with compassion, not only for myself, but also for the person I loved the most, who chose to walk away. It was, and continues to be, unlike anything I have ever experienced. Pity was relieved by hope.
But it was not at all possible to experience this all encompassing compassion without loving me, without accepting me, without including myself in the joy picture, in the prosperity picture, in the “I’ve got everything I need picture.”
It is a daily choice to step into fearless self-love. At first, I had to do it by the hour. Even, at times by the minute. In those moments my aim was to remind myself of my belief that, like all others,
I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
I am absolutely the most amazing being there is, and so is every other being.
I am loving and lovable beyond my imagination, as are all others.
I am no worse, nor any better. I am complete and connected; we all are.
I Can Be My Own Worst Judge
If I get caught in the “I’m not be capable of loving in the way another feels loved” trap, or the “there is a big problem only I can solve” trap, or the “there is not enough; not enough time, money or compassion” trap, the self-love jumpsuit, that permits me feel all pain and not be washed away by it, all but disintegrates.
I stumble into blaming others, myself, even inanimate objects, judging anything that can be judged, my healthy habits are reasoned away and the jumpsuit of love is replaced by fear.
Do you recall that childhood saying, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you?” I don’t suggest you repeat it to your child or adopt it yourself.
While I don’t feel lovable when I believe cruel things other hurt beings tell me, I also don’t want to bounce those cruel things back.
Love listens and sees. Fear runs, bounces cruelty back, and, unfortunately as I have learned, absorbs the nastiness, too.
Bring On Compassion
So what happens when the jumpsuit starts to disintegrate and the naked feeling of vulnerability (read Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly to learn more about this!) is scary enough to turn to fear instead? Well, this is where compassion comes in, darling.
You may recall, from one of my newsletters, the encouragement meditation teacher, Tara Brach offered me to take good care. This included guidance speak to myself in these moments of deep pain the way a loved one or mentor would. I start there if I need to, or, if I am able, I speak to me from me.
Sometimes if helps to write myself a love letter, or give myself a “you are a badass” pep talk (another good read: You Are A Badass). In both cases, I acknowledge reality. Often a hand finds my heart, sometimes there are tears, sometimes I feel resistant, other times I melt right away.
The only way back into the jumpsuit of love (picture a red or pick union suit or your favorite underwear if you like), is to face, full on, open armed, exactly what is real now (situations and feelings).
A note about feelings/emotions. No, I don’t believe that what we feel is always a reflection of the truth. For example, I feel sad because a Yoga student who said they loved my class has not shown up for weeks, so I tell myself I must have royally offended her and she will never come back. The feeling of sadness is real, absolutely!! The assumption I made because of that feeling, well, it’s often totally missed the mark!
Another beloved tool I utilize is an app. It’s called Chill. Yep. Just now, when I looked at my phone, what I now consider my internal voice of wisdom in the form of a few words on my screen, said, “Slow down. Everything is just fine.” I take a deep breath. I choose to believe this. And I move on, more slowly.
Once I am back in the saddle of loving myself, at first there are some of the fleeting feelings of love and happiness mentioned earlier: exuberance, glee, even invincibility. Right away I recognize these as feelings, and enjoy them:) I may feel radiant, and grateful to feel again alive. I also work here to settle my, at times, sky high energy to a place where I can be like a raft on the waves, letting the breeze and water move around me, accepting the cold, the warm, the smooth and the turbulent as they are.
I used to get irritated with sayings like, “life is a journey, not a guided tour.” I realize now, though, that it is a journey, and it is my responsibility to stay awake and aware to how this journey is guiding me, whether on expected or new terrain, whether bumpy or breezy.
Sigh. Give yourself a moment here to breathe in deeply and let out a sigh. The journey of self-love is worth it. And it is a fearless one. One that requires a similar depth of commitment it takes to love others we don’t always like.
Be fearless, friend. Choose love. Choose you. Make a List of Realistic Non-Negotiable ways, and start now.
Fearless self-lovers post 2/20/16 workshop. Aren’t we radiant?
So excited for my Fearless Self-Care video series starting 4/23….are you registered?