Unconditional love. The stuff that dreams are made of. You, I can do no wrong in the eyes of the beloved. a topic, a thesis, a book in its own right- a concept which has and continues to mystify and magnetize the human species.
However, I am not talking about the intoxicating misty eyed unconditional love of another or for another. I am talking about unconditional love of the self, myself.
It is a word, a phrase which is thrown around a lot, "you got to learn to love yourself", For me, this feels like an order to steep. I am talking from the I, because I can not assume that you, the reader feels the same. Though my hope is that my experience is shared and that these musings may offer you something.
Can I really love myself unconditionally? I am not sure I can. Yet anyway. Perhaps, self compassion, self acceptance, self forgiveness, self curiosity feel like easier terms to swallow.
I might find it easy to practice the above terms which for the sake of ease, I will encapsulate in a single term, "self accept" (I will forgive myself for being lazy) when I am adhering and conforming to my "ideals"- when I am being a "good human". When I am investing in expanding my knowledge, when I am following a healthy eating and exercise routine, when I am "working" on myself and feel like I am "growing", when I meditate daily, when I do kind acts and say the right thing. Yes when I do these things, I can, kind of look at my reflection in the mirror and through misty eyes say, "my love, I accept you, just as you are".
The problem arises when I abscond from my diligent practice and fall into less favorable ways- when I procrastinate, wake up late, binge, fall into old ways of communicating, have ugly thoughts, say ugly things, watch mind numbing tv instead of do exercise, hit snooze instead of meditate......the list goes on, "damn you, you undisciplined, useless mess, get your bloody act together! You've failed!....Yet again!" (The list goes on- you get the jist). The scornful and terrifying rise from the depths of my mind I am flooded with shame and self loathing, regret, guilt and the rest.
It occurred to me, that it is during these times that I am my own friend in need. It is here that, in my view- it may be time to press the "self accept" button. "Oh so your saying its OK to fall into unhelpful and unhealthy ways and sit back on your well cushioned TV watching junk food eating laurels?!". Well no. I am saying that, I am human and I am therefore by default- flawed and infallible, I can't help but fuck up and perhaps its in these moments when we are feeling so less than worthy that we most need the soothing balm of "self acceptance". In my experience it is through "making peace" with these "dirty" parts of ourselves that we can actually gain greater insight and awareness into the whys and hows of our destructive behaviours and thus enable and allow real shifts and growth to take place.
It is, I feel, a balance - the balance of acceptance and effort, effort and acceptance, so perhaps "wise self acceptance" is a more complete and healthy term.
A work in progress and a work perhaps never done- the self persecutor is a well honed master of his/her trade. So maybe, the next time you find yourself berating yourself for snapping or bitching, eating cake, saying yes when you really meant no, etc etc, maybe take a pause and recognise your friend in need and offer the soothing, compassionate and non-judgemental words you would so freely offer to your most beloved to your imperfectly perfect self.
(Picture: Courtesy of google)