Photo / Bao-Quan Nguyen
We must do the brave and vigilant work of loving ourself. The precious planet needs this humanitarian act and it needs it NOW.
This is a call to action.
Self love has frequently been muddied by misunderstood words, such as self centered and self absorbed. It is time to rewrite the cultural dictionary. I’m ready to propose new definitions.
Being self-centered allows us to center in ourself before we tend the needs of others. It allows us to meet their needs from a place of grounded nurturing versus martyrdom and resentment. When care taking vampires our own well being, it is less effective in bolstering the well being of others. Care taking that vampires our own well being is a double edged gift. We fool ourselves into believing it is noble. We collectively affirm the image of bleeding, noble love, of sacrificial, depleting sainthood and in doing so, we collectively cop out.
Figuring out how to love ourself fiercely - how to be our own champion - how to fill our own gaps - how to be nourished and how to be well - this allows us to love others because we truly want to love them. Not because we want them to love us back in a way that will fix us. Not because we want to prove that we are good and kind and right. Not because we expect something from them.
But because we simply love them and we simply love ourself and we are a self-generated entity of confidence.
It's no easy feat. Facing the demons of our own wounds and bearing witness to our reactive mind is a fucking challenge. It’s often easier to submit to the victim inside or to the tantrum throwing ego or to the defeating sadness. There is nothing wrong with any of those peronas. It is absolutely necessary to honor the range of emotions that animate the experience of being vulnerably human and we can only do this by actually experiencing them.
The shift occurs when we let the the emotional body have motion. Motion moves through us and eventually moves on. When we grip the experience of our wounds and our feelings and our fears so tightly that they cannot wash through us, then our wounds and our fears cement again and again into our identity. We begin loving with passive aggressive edges. We begin blaming and cowering and clawing. We begin believing that no one is ever enough because this reflects our personal identity of never being enough.
The healing potential of love is diminished when we shirk the task of true self-adoration.
Don’t get it twisted.
Narcissism is not self-adoration. Narcissism is self-loathing misplaced and projected onto others. It is a relinquishment of responsibility for one’s actions. It is a dried up well, a shattered mirror, a desperate need for approval.
Learning how to adore ourself - in all our intricacy and pain and power - will only lead to expanding compassion, widening stores of energy and a delicious, unfettered love for others.
When we stop trying to make people responsible for our own pain, the profound pleasure and growth available at the core of all relationship, opens to us like the belly of a well-fed flower .
I don't know about you, but I am tired of turning away from myself. Literally - physically - tired.
I am ready to redeem the value of selfish, so that it can better serve the whole.
So that we can be free enough and real enough and loved enough to rain healing heartfulness down on this parched and precious earth.
I am a Portland, Oregon based writer, filmmaker and choreographer. I believe stories activate the code of empathy, dissolve the grip of isolation, voice our animal truths and hunt our human treasures.