“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Many years ago, I realized I not only didn’t love myself, I barely even liked myself. I treated myself as an enemy until the self-loathing became bad enough to turn into a pity party after I’d pushed away everyone who did love me. It was a vicious cycle.
While it sounds extreme, what I have come to know is that many, many people share this lack of self-love, though most are unconscious about it.
I think self-limiting behavior including self-loathing begins innocently enough for many people. An excited child wants the attention of a preoccupied adult who reacts dismissively or is short with the child. The child internalizes it. If it happens enough, the child learns how to navigate to get their needs met which unconsciously builds a self-limiting belief that their needs are not as important or perhaps even worthy of the adults attention.
Unfortunately for some, the disconnection to love is a result of a trauma or a series of traumatic events. This requires professional guidance to process the trauma and begin the healing process. Yet, a removal of all the barriers self-built is necessary for everyone in order to operate from a place of love.
Brene Brown shared in an interview with Krista Tippett (On Being), “…Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that we do not belong, because we will always find it. It’s the confirmation bias…No one can give us this. We carry it in our own heart.”
If we do not offer belonging to ourselves, how can we belong elsewhere in the world? If we are not accepting of our weird, wonderful, flawed selves, we will find lots of confirmation that we are unacceptable. Conversely, if we do accept ourselves, offering belonging, we will get confirmation from the world that there are many places we do belong.
This works with love, too. If we find ourselves unworthy of unconditional love, respect, dignity, compassion, we will receive confirmation from the world that is true. If we do not love ourselves, how do we expect others to love us? Only when we begin to value ourselves as a gift, our own unique set of wisdom, skills, and gifts can the world begin to confirm our worthiness.
Four steps to removing the barriers.
Start by ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” aria-label=”Decide who you would be (opens in a new tab)”>Decide who you would be if you operated daily from a place of unconditional love. Then start acting as if you are that person. What would need to stop immediate? What would need to start? What support do you need?
Seek beauty. When you are actively seeking beauty in the people, places and situations surrounding you, chances are you’ll also seek the beauty in yourself.
Rome was not built in a day.
You begin the process with the curiosity and wonder of an absolute beginner. You’ll have setbacks and failures. You’ll slip into old mindsets and behaviors. That’s pretty normal. No need to beat yourself up.
Just remember to begin again. Keep building the love muscle in your mind. Keep choosing acceptance, curiosity, love. Keep choosing you.