self-acceptance

Self-Love and Insecurities: This is Where I Am.

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Show me the most beautiful, powerful, successful, actualized, amazing woman in the world, and I’ll show you a woman who sometimes struggles with insecurities.

We all face the darker side of our own feelings about ourselves from time to time, no matter who we are or how hard we have worked on ourselves, how spiritual or “enlightened” we are, how much we have healed, how far we have come… it happens.

And though some of us are better at hiding it from the world than others, none of us are exempt.

Sometimes I struggle to love myself completely.

There. I said it.

Sometimes my inner mean girls, inner gremlins, inner demons, whatever you want to call the voices, those voices, whisper and chant the meanest things to me.

Does my sharing this with you make you think less of me as a woman, a coach, a teacher?

Did you think I had it all together, and that “all together” included never thinking one negative, mean thought about myself, never critiquing myself, never “ugh-ing” myself in the mirror, never ever calling myself a name?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, if that is the case.

Because I stand for radical self-love doesn’t mean I’ve perfected it. Because I believe in self-acceptance doesn’t mean this comes completely effortlessly for me. It’s my journey. I’m still in it.

If you’ve attended any of my workshops over the years, you know that one of the first things I share, after I point to the bathrooms and ask you to turn off your cell phone is that I am not immune or completely healed of the negative self-talk and self-loathing judgment that plagues women of our western society.

My journey has been arduous and painstakingly bumpy, and very real, and never-ending and yes, I’m still in it. I’m still journeying. But, I say.

But. But on this journey, as I tired of the pain, I have learned many amazing and powerful tools and practices for quieting the critical voices, for cultivating self-love, for remembering who I am, for practicing self-kindess and compassion, for healing the relationship between my body and my mind, and when I practice them, my relationship to myself shifts, it heals.

They work if I work them.

And so of course, I am obligated to share them. We learn, we teach. Some of us are wired this way. Whether we like it or not.

Why am I telling you this?

Perhaps to come clean.

Perhaps because recently, when I told her that I was having a bad day and struggling with self-esteem issues, still another friend looked at me incredulously, jaw dropped, surprised… maybe even disappointed… “You?”  Yes, me.

But my commitment to expand my capacity for self-love and self-acceptance has been recharged. My relationships depend on it. My business depends on it. My life depends on it.

These days, on a bad day, I can remember to turn to myself with compassion, and sometimes I even remember to practice the tools that I teach.

I am not immune to insecurities. But I am not going to lay down and surrender to them, either.

I am devoted to mastering profound self-love and acceptance, and if it takes me the rest of my life to master, so be it.

Perhaps that’s the whole point of living.

I’m in. I’m registered. I’m signed up. I’m enrolled.

I’m no longer enrolled in “Self-Love 101”, but I haven’t earned my Doctorate in Loving Oneself Completely yet, either.

I am a work in progress. I hope you’re okay with that.

 

 

Those Undesirable Unmentionables: Hello, Shadow!

69278_10150881061583473_1913608398_n“I just want to lose my desire for love. I hate needing approval. I hate being needy. I’ve asked the Universe to remove these defects in me. This neediness in me is pathetic.”

A new client wrote this to me last week, and when I read it, I felt a stirring in my heart, a sadness, a sorrow for this woman, who feels that her desires are so undesirable, and burdensome. I have been this woman.

I wonder what hurts she must have experienced, to want these desires gone. I felt a heaviness thinking about her pain and frustration with herself and her innate desires, her own human nature.

It stirs me every time I come across someone I care about who is fighting who they are at the core.

It saddens me every time I come across someone who is desperately trying to reject their human qualities, in order to be more spiritual, closer to God, or in order to simply feel less.

Our desire for love, approval and appreciation makes us so very human, This desire is a primitive, innate, and powerful driver. To deny it exists, to reject this part of ourselves is to reject our humanity, our very essence as human beings.

From the moment we are born, we seek love. As small children, our identities are shaped by attachment and approval. It’s how we learn to be human, we are formed through connection, we need each other.

Last night, dancing with a group of women in my BodyLove Affair Rendezvous, we stopped dancing to debrief after a soulful shake-up.

We talked about the ways we are “supposed” to be, the parts of us that are easy to accept. And the parts of us that are… less easy. The not-so-pretty parts. The undesirable unmentionables.

We talked about the pressure to appear as we have it all together, at all times, when really, on the inside, we are screaming, we are wailing. We are pieces held together with tape and chewing gum, and one blast of wind might send us into smithereens, or so it seems.

Our shadow is described as the parts of us that we reject or hide, from the world or ourselves.

And guess what? What we resist persists.

I’ve been there. This self-rejecting path was the way I lived. Parts of me were easy to accept and love. Others, not so much.

Like my client, neediness is also one of my shadow traits. I spent the first three and a half decades of my life trying to “not be needy.”

I am fiercely independent, so being or seeming needy had always been loathsome and avoidable at all costs. And it cost me a great deal: True, deep intimacy and connection with others.

Because I am human, I have needs.

And sometimes, I am even needy. I accept this now.

I continue to do my shadow work, which is, I promise, a lifelong project. I am learning to embrace my neediness. The needy part of me is very young, and very precious, and deserves my love.

When she is triggered, I am learning to acknowledge her and love her. I do not reject her. I do not send her away. I see her. I allow her. I tend to her.

What I’m also learning is that as I continue my healing work and personal evolution, my need for outer validation, love, appreciation or approval does not drive me the way that it used to.

It’s there, as I mentioned, I’m human, and plan on being so for a while longer, so I don’t wish it away or reject it.

But what’s naturally happening is I am finding direct access to my own love. The love that I am. After all, why seek what you already are?

I’m tapping into a deeper source for these feelings, that of my own soul’s wellspring of love and worthiness. I do not rely on outer validation for my worth. But I still desire it. Who doesn’t!? It feels great!

This is evolution. This is a revolution.

What parts of you do you find difficult to love or accept?

And what if the most difficult parts of you to love were the most precious?

How might they transform if you simply embraced these shadowy parts, acknowledged them as part of your totality? Your wholeness?

You are all things.

You are light and shadow. And the more acceptance and acknowledgment, curiosity, compassion, love and allowance you offer to your shadow, the less shadowy it becomes.

You grow, you evolve, you heal. And you don’t need to reject, change or pray away any part of you.

Be Your Valentine: The Bad-Ass Brazen Art of Self-Devotion

de·vo·tion [dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication; consecration.
2. earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty.

Devotion is my new favorite word. Not only do I love the way it sounds… delightful… divine… devotion. I love what it means.

What are you devoted to?

These days, I’m cultivating a sweet self-devotion. Which turns the definition into THIS:

self-devotion [self-dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication to me; consecration to myself
2. earnest attachment to moi
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty to my own self!

YEAAAH, that’s what I’m talking about.

What does that mean for me? What are the implications of this commitment? Well, there are many. New ones pop up daily, in fact.

Today, self-devotion means…

– listening to my body when this head cold has knocked me down for a rest
– checking in to see what I really want to do, eat, drink.
– napping because that’s what I need
– clearing my schedule as an act of self-care, in spite of that critical voice that says I could not/should not do so.
– pajamas, all day long.

Other days it’s much more serious, and more difficult, uncomfortable, vulnerable:

– standing up for myself when I feel disrespected by a peer
– expressing an unspoken insecurity to my partner
– refusing to be mistreated by a cranky cashier

Now, more than ever, I am realizing how every choice I make is either an act of self-devotion, or it is not. It either helps me feel lighter, or creates a sense of heaviness. It either feels like love or feels like fear.

Wanting to devote to yourself? Here’s the interesting thing. You don’t have to feel any certain “preliminary” way toward yourself to act in devoted ways. In fact, the decision to devote to yourself is followed by actions and choices, and those actions and choices create profound self-love.

Self-devotion cultivates trust, and with devoted practice, a sweet and romantic, everlasting loyalty and kindness to oneself will blossom.

Keep in mind, self-devotion is an act of audacity. A bold and brazen promise to yourself, to dote on yourself, to spoil yourself with lavish attention and affection.

Are your choices today a reflection of someone who is devoted to herself? And if they are not, can you start now? What one loving choice can you make as an act of self-devotion?

This Valentine’s Day, first and foremost, be your own Valentine, always and forever, for better or for worse.

After all, lovers come and lovers go, but you… you will always have you.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

 
 
Originally published February 2013.

Hot & Holy: Sex, Soul and the “Sacred Slut”

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Photo by Dee Hill, Makeup by Vivienne Vermuth

We were divinely designed for pleasure. We are born sexual. We are wired for intensity. We are wild, beastly, messy, sticky, erotic creatures. We burn deeply with desires, some we would never dream of naming.

Yet through a hundred thousand messages, religion, lies, experiences and for many of us, traumas, we split ourselves into pieces, between what is “good and holy”, and what is “dirty”. The richness of our sexuality is often boxed, labeled and closed away, and when that happens, we suffer.  In fact, the world suffers with us. Because I believe with all that I am, that a woman who is completely integrated is a powerful force. She is a sight to behold, an inspiration to take in, a lover like no other, a goddess, a Queen.

Fully integrated, we are medicine women, we are healers, we are magical. We are Queens.

What is a Sacred Slut? When I put those two words together, I made myself a little uncomfortable. I was worried what you would think. The word “slut” after all, has such heavy baggage that we are supposed to feel ashamed of. Think about it.

When was the first time you heard the word and got an idea of what it meant? Middle school? Earlier? Maybe they called that girl whose body developed before everyone else’s a slut. Maybe that girl was you. How many of us were called sluts, because our breasts showed up sooner than others, or our hips and waists began to curve, or because we were sexually curious, “advanced”. Our early experiences labeled some of us as “easy” and “slutty.”

Were you ever called a slut? My very first husband, A., was an emotionally and verbally abusive tyrant. He often told me I was a slut, a whore. In his words, my sole purpose was to suck and fuck. I left his ass by the time I was 21, wisely. But for years, those words stayed rooted in my brain.

I went through many years of my life leading a promiscuous life. My sexuality was one of the only sources of power that I knew of, and like a child wielding a deadly weapon, I waved and swung my sexuality around thinking it was powerful, thinking I was sexually free, while the choices and behaviors I was engaged in had nothing to do with power or freedom, and were actually closer to the complete opposite. For many years, in many ways, I was “up for grabs.” Gabrielle Roth, in her book “Sweat Your Prayers”, (and I’m paraphrasing here) puts it beautifully… “I had taken into my body men I wouldn’t even loan my car to.”

Yet, through all of my experiences, because of my experiences, I am who I am now. I wouldn’t be the me I am without them. And so I embrace them. I embrace them all.

I no longer betray or abandon myself. I am no longer up for grabs. I now use my sexual power for expression, connection, pleasure, and no longer to fill my emptiness, “win” someone’s attention or to feel “loved.”

Yet, I embrace the me that did betray and abandon herself, the me that was up for grabs. She is part of me. Because of her, I am.

We are such rich, multi-faceted, multi-layered creatures, with rich histories and colorful futures ahead of us.

Somewhere along the way many of us come to believe that our holy, sacred selves are separate from our “dirty”, slutty selves. We so often fail to see the divinity of our totality.

A Sacred Slut doesn’t do that anymore. A Sacred Slut owns her totality, the light, the darkness, the love, the loathing, the magic, the mistakes, all of it, and claims her sovereign status, Queen of herself. Queen of Her Selves. All of them.

The three kingdoms of our sexual worlds are our pasts, our present and our future. The lives we’ve lived, the ways we’ve lost ourselves, the ways we’ve found ourselves. The ways we are still becoming. Our desires and longings. We can be everything. We are everything.

A Sacred Slut is no longer defined by her past, but she owns her stories, lest they own her.

Whatever parts of you that are harder to own, your past, your present, your desires, your secrets, your shame, the darker parts, especially the darker parts, I dare you to own them all, and celebrate them all, because you are Queen of your domain.

There is great power in owning your totality, your divine and your “dirty”. All of it. Sacred. Embrace it all. All of you, not just the love and light, not just the good and pure, not just the kindness and compassion.  Love it all.

There is so much more power to living a life fully integrated, and full integration, paradoxically, is found in wrapping your arms around all of your selves. Your complexity is your divinity. Your contradictions are your holy humanity. You are here for it all. You get to be it all. You get to live it all. And by doing so, you claim your full power.

You get to be whole now. Be whole, Queen.

 

Self-love is a radical act of rebellion.

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O God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is!”

– Marcia Weiderkehr

First things first here, you are divine. That’s right, you are divinity incarnate. An expression of holy art. God walking around in a meat costume. Okay, I know that one’s a little graphic. But it’s true.

And until you own that, claim it as truth, you will never quite be able to grasp and embody the truth of your existence, your power or your light.

So let’s start there, and break this baby down…

“I claim my divinity…”

It is brave, bold business to love yourself, the way you are.

Our world is structured to put us at war with ourselves, to set us up for self-judgment, for self-loathing, plain and simple.

So to love yourself unconditionally is a radical, brazen act of rebellion.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

True and unconditional self-love is a lifelong journey, a practice that when practiced, we get better and better at.

This practice happens choice by choice, moment by moment. I have worked hard to get to the loving place that I mostly reside in these days, but I still have moments of insecurity, of self-doubt, self-loathing. Being human has its perks, and its drawbacks. Even still…

“I boldly love who I am…”

There’s an interesting paradox I’m learning to embrace. It’s the dance between self-improvement and self-approval. Loving myself just as I am, while I strive to make improvements, to grow, to emerge, to shift into a higher version of myself.

You are a work in progress. And you are exactly right, right now.

“I do not need to be anything other than what I am…”

you are exactly right. Right now. As is. You are not broken. You do not need fixing.

“but I am always open to exploring undiscovered terrain of who I am.”

Stay open to new expressions of yourself, to new interests, to new hobbies. A dangerous way to live is in the “this is who I’ve always been” box. It leaves no room for evolution, for the new you that you are always becoming.

I recently heard someone say that being human is an ever-changing ratio between being and becoming.

Embrace your being, while becoming.

Breathe. Read this out loud, feeling its truth permeating your cells.

 

 

 

For a downloadable worksheet to bring the experience of this blog into your journal, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tyranny of Boob Padding

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“Am I enough, Piggy?”

It was a sexy new little navy blue chemise and I was excited to ‘premiere’ it for my partner.  Its stretchy satiny fabric felt good on my skin, it hugged my curves in all the right places and the light padding built into the chest area made my boobs look fuller and higher.

After a few minutes of kissing and fondling, I got up to use the restroom and was startled to notice in the mirror that the pads in the chest area had become bunched and rumpled and dislodged inside of the gown and now were completely uneven and ridiculous looking! I laughed at myself, yet felt a little embarrassed. Wait! I thought. These can come out! I grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped a tiny hole on the inside layer of fabric and pulled out the two strange looking pads.

Even without the padding, the nightie still provided enough support and hugged my boobs in all the right ways. I looked fine! Not just fine- I looked BETTER.

And then I had an epiphany. These pads were sending me a message. That message that we women get a thousand times a day in a thousand different ways:

YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.

The message came loud and clear, I’d been hearing it all my life!

But this time, instead of subsconsciously obeying it, I recognized it as a lie. This time, it angered me.  It pissed me off with its sneaky subtlety, something so quiet and ‘unassuming’ as breast padding in a chemise-  but still, the underlying message had attempted to taunt me with my “not-enough-ness.”

Yet, once I took the pads out, I looked and felt better.  My partner’s eyes widened when, with my more natural, unpadded look, I entered the room. And of course, I could feel his touch better without the padding. I WAS BETTER off just being me, without those stupid built-in boob pads.

I am not saying we burn our bras and stop shaving and stop caring about the way we look in an effort to celebrate our enoughness. If that’s where you’re led, awesome! For me, that’s way too extreme and I have way too much fun being girlie for that.

My invitation to SacredSexy YOU  is to simply be aware of when and how those messages sneak into your subconscious.

And some days, when you are feeling brazen enough, my hope is that you say no to the tyranny of boob pads.

I double dog dare you to grab a pair of scissors, cut out the proverbial pads in your life that lie to you and tell you that you are not enough. That your breasts are not big enough. Your legs are not smooth enough. Your face doesn’t look young enough. Your “feminine odor” is not fresh enough. (Floral scented crotchl? Really?)

Decide, just one brave moment at a time, that you are not going to be tyrannized by that message of not-enoughness.

Declare, even if just for a moment, that you ARE enough.  Because really, Goddess, you are.

 

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new front cover TODLExcerpted from my book, Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for Your Sacred, Sexy Soul. Now through the holidays, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite chapters from the book, available on Amazon.com, while I revive and reignite my creative fire with some much needed rest. Enjoy!

Call a Truce With Your Belly Now

bikini-season-is-comingIf I asked fifteen women to write down the self-critical thoughts they’d had within the first ten minutes, upon entering a retreat classroom, twelve of them would include a mean thought toward their belly…

I can feel my gross stomach hanging over my jeans.

I wore the wrong top. My stomach is sticking out.

I hate my stomach.

I have the biggest stomach in here.

I know this to be true, because I read them. It was an exercise I’d used to start a retreat. It was chilling. And all-too-familiar.

This stomach loathing is not your private hell. It is so common, in fact, that it is more uncommon to meet a woman who doesn’t direct loathing toward her belly.

Since I was four years old, a tiny ballerina with a pot belly, I was trained to constantly be aware and ashamed of my belly. “Tuck it in.” One dance teacher would point at “it” during my rehearsals. She said it so often, it was simply called It. She didn’t have to call it by name. I’d immediately suck it in, trying to make myself smaller, like she wanted me. I’d forget soon, only to be barked at again later.  Needless to say, I never got far with my ballet “career”.

When I had tubal ligation surgery several years ago, my doctor told me post-surgery “Gosh! We had a really hard time cutting through your abdominals!” She seemed surprised. You’d never guess from seeing my soft round belly that underneath were abs of steel. But I wasn’t surprised. I’d been in a state of contraction for 30 years.

If you think about it, our bellies are the center of our existence. When we hate our bellies, we are hating our own existence.

It’s got to stop. The loathing doesn’t fix a thing. The belly wants to be noticed because it wants your love. It’s time for us to start talking about our secret body shame.  It’s time for a revolution.

Do you have a belly shame secret? Or is there another part of your body that you cannot love?

Let’s start the conversation. Let’s commit, together to heal this, so that we can get on with healing the world. We’ve spent so much of our energy resisting, hating, chiding, abusing, denying, loathing, hiding.

Are you ready to call truce on this painful war?

No one is winning.
Join me on Sunday, 8/17 for BodyLove Revolution: Make Peace with Your Body and let’s heal together.

 

Encore blog. Originally published 1.29.13

Contradictions, Unlimited.

contradictionI think I just might be the most anti-social extrovert there ever was.

As much as I love to be around people, and am totally energized in groups, at events and parties and whatnot, I never feel “open” to talking to strangers in coffee shops, on airplanes, in the sauna at the gym. I’d rather just be left alone. Sometimes, and this is embarrassing to admit, I even wear my ear buds, even if I’m not listening to anything, just to send a clear leave-me-alone-please message to any friendly stranger that might dare talk to me.

And if I should make conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store, or even the cashier, I sometimes actually shake with adrenalin or nervousness and while I am energized by it, I leave slightly trembling, maybe even sweat dripping down my armpits!

I see strangers making friends in public places and a pang of envy washes through me, for their easy, carefree connection and comfort with chatting it up with total strangers. Yet, some of my very best friends were strangers I was brave enough to talk to. And I create events for a living.

This is one of my many contradictions. I’m full of them. And so are you. And that’s what makes us complex, interesting and layered. That’s what creates our divine totality.

“Do I contradict myself?” Walt Whitman said. “Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Yeah, that’s me. That’s us.

Here’s what I notice: For some reason we’ve adopted this belief that we should be one or another of everything, that there is no room for being both or all things, yet we are designed to hold within us the full capacity of everything that is available.

Why must we be so “either/or” about every damned thing?

I’ve spent hours and hours, year after year, with clients, with friends, in relationships, in my own heart, on that tenuous tightrope of “either/or” thinking…

“Am I selfish or giving… logical or emotional… good or bad… right or wrong… gay or straight… honest or dishonest… bold or shy… scared or fearless… spiritual or sinful… left brain or right brain… doubtful or trusting… a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll… “slutty” or prudish… healed or wounded… tough or vulnerable… satisfied or yearning?”

I’m not quite sure how or when we as people started thinking we could only be one half of two opposites. When did we cut ourselves in half and why do we feel the need to limit the fullness of our existence?

It’s really kind of weird when you think about it. But that’s what we learned, that’s what we thought. That’s what we often believe.

Do you remember Highlights for Children magazine? There was a regular cartoon in there called Goofus and Gallant, about two brothers– one who did everything right, all the time, while the other brother (guess which one…) was consistently messy, selfish, rude, he didn’t put his toys away. He didn’t say thank you. He never said “please.” He threw rocks at birds.

This little cartoon, in spite of its good intentions to teach kids manners, is just one way I was imprinted, the imprint growing roots in my belief system that there is no room for extremes or contradictions within one person. As a small child just learning how to be what the world wanted me to be, I knew it was “wrong” to feel a little bit Goofus and a lit bit Gallant.

Can you trace back to a message or experience that taught you that you could only be one or the other of something?

And now… Can you entertain the exciting notion that you are everything?

I highly recommend it. For when you do, when you can, there is no more war. The battle is over. The forces retreat.

When you allow yourself to be the wide, vast and magical container for everything that you truly are, the game changes. The world, and your place in it, shifts.

You are made of curves and edges. Countless textures. A thousand flavors. Embrace them all.

You are designed to be spacious enough for every feeling, every possibility.

Your divine totality is vast and limitless and there is absolutely no reason that you cannot be a contradiction, or even a thousand contradictions, whenever you want to be.

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Do tell! What is one of your contradictions that you are ready and willing to embrace?

What if I Told You?

1454578_10151857640233473_203122843_nWhat if I told you that you are not your mistakes?

What if I told you that there are no mistakes?

What if I told you that every so-called detour, distraction, poor choice or bad decision you’ve ever made was actually exactly right because it brought you to exactly here, exactly you, exactly in this moment, and exactly NOW is perfect.

What if I told you there is nothing wrong with you?

What if I told you that any wisdom you seek in gurus and therapists and churches and teachers and philosophers and coaches is already within you.

That the gurus and therapists and teachers and churches and philosophers and coaches, the good ones at least, will never take credit for “fixing you” or “saving you” or “delivering you”. They are simply showing you a mirror of your own brilliance and reminding you of what your soul already knows, has always known and will always know (but sometimes we all need reminding.)

What if I told you that you have, within you, every single strength, tool, trait and ability to handle everything and anything that you should face or have faced, in your life?

What if I told you that there is no such thing as “soul healing” because it is impossible to damage a soul because your soul is divine and divinity is indestructible, unrelenting, perfectly perfect perfection?

What if I told you that any wounds or so-called “damage” that you think you carry from what was done or not done, what was given or not given, what was said or not said to you when you were a tiny child or an angsty teen or a hungry seeker did not nor could not touch your soul and within you is the perfection of your divine essence, always, no matter what , forever and ever amen?

What if I told you that you are brilliant, and beautiful and amazing and perfect, just as you are? That you are a bright and radiant star and that you were born to shine?

What if I told you that you, my sweet, beautiful friend, are exactly right.  Right now.  As is. You are the I am. You are divinity incarnate.

Would you believe me?

*   *    *    *

 

* TRUTH

Which of the statements above felt the most difficult to embrace? Does it feel opposite of a belief you hold? Is that belief working for you? What would it take for you to ditch the old belief, and experiment with a brand new one?

* DARE

Pick one that you would like to claim. Claim it. Write it on a sticky and stick it on your mirror. For example…

There is nothing wrong with me.

I am not my mistakes.

My soul is perfectly perfect.

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Reprinted from my book “Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for Your Sacred, Sexy Soul.” Second edition with Companion Journal/Workbook coming soon!

Photo by Dee Hill Photography

“I Can’t Love Myself.”

Dear Lisa,

I’m always seeing and hearing things about ‘self-love’ and ‘until you can love yourself, you can’t really love anyone else.’ I have an impossible time loving myself. I always have.

What is this self-love thing and how can I love myself when I look in the mirror and just see a plain, fat-thighed woman, past her prime? Even when I was pretty and young I couldn’t love myself. I’ve always had a low self-esteem. So how can I now?  I have a decent job I enjoy, some great friends. My life is okay, but there’s just nothing really special about me.

I can love others, though. I love my family, friends, my pets. This self-love thing seems like a cliché more than anything. But I am jealous of the people who seem to be able to do it. And because they do it, it makes me believe it’s possible. Is it possible for me?

Can you help me or am I as hopeless as I feel?

Signed,
Linda Love-less

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Dear Linda,

I feel your despair, yet there’s something in you that senses the possibility of a loving relationship with yourself, for why else would you have written? That’s a great place to start. In fact, where you are in this moment is the beginning.

I’ve always struggled with the idea of ‘until you can love yourself, you can’t really love anyone else.’ I’ve known people, and at some points in my life I’ve BEEN someone who did not love myself, yet loved others, with all my heart. But my heart had so much more capacity than I knew, and it grew as my ability to love myself grew. What I prefer to believe is that we can love so much better when we love ourselves. When you love yourself, you have a greater capacity for loving others. We become better lovers, better parents, better friends when we can love from a place of self-love.

Believe it or not, you are ON a path to self-love. I can’t pluck you up from where you are now and drop you off in self-love-land, but I can offer you a few tips:

  1. Instead of thinking you need self-esteem to love yourself, see if you can practice loving yourself AS IS… low self-esteem and all. If you can’t feel “LOVE” in this moment, what about tenderness? Kindness? Can you extend compassion to yourself, for now, just gentle, kind compassion, trusting that where and who you are right now is perfect? Start there.
  2. Make a list of 100 things you can love about yourself. Yes, I said 100. There’s something magical about 100. Start each list item with “I love…” Can you love that you are a generous friend or a great dog parent or have curvy, sensual hips? Can you love the sparkle in your eyes or your love for nature or that you do your job well? Keep the list nearby so that you can read it daily. Whether you FEEL love or not, just keep reading it.
  3. Reach out. Your friends obviously see great things in you worth loving. Don’t be afraid to ask them. Tell them you are working on loving yourself better and it would help you to know what they love about you. Seeing yourself in someone else’s eyes is not the be-all, end-all of our self-worth, not by any means, but I’m not gonna lie. It feels good to be reminded of what makes us great.
  4. Fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend you are someone who exquisitely loves and treasures yourself. Ask yourself “what would someone who loves herself do with this body butter?” And spend some time lovingly applying it to your body, as someone who loves herself would do. “What would someone who loves herself do in this moment?” And then DO what someone who loves herself would do. Do this enough, and eventually, I kid you not, you will BE someone who exquisitely loves and treasures herself.
  5. Tap into a bigger love when you need it. When you are experiencing a moment of self-loathing, say for example, in the mirror loathing your thighs, get vigilant about stopping yourself, mid-thought and asking “can I love my thighs in this moment?” and try to conjure up love in your heart. If the answer is “no, I can’t.” ask yourself “can I have a higher, bigger love run through me to love my thighs?” There is a limitless supply of love floating around you, always. Grab it, funnel it, direct it to your thighs. Steal a bigger love, when your love won’t cut it.
  6. Lastly, try the “love bait and switch.”  Spend a couple moments conjuring up “easy love” in your heart … like for your pet, or your best friend, or your nieces and nephews. Feel the love welling up in you, until your heart space swells and glows, and feels warm inside. Then BAM! Switch and aim it at yourself. Feel what it feels like to feel your love aimed at YOU. Even if it lasts for two seconds, that’s two seconds toward a grand and glorious love affair with yourself.

Trust your journey, it really is perfect. Stay open, and welcome yourself to this new path: deliberate, attentive and conscious self-love cultivation! It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong love affair.” – Oscar Wilde

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I invite you to write with your questions or topic suggestions. I will answer all either privately or in this space. It’s my intention that my words will bring hope and new clarity. Email your question to me at lisa@sacredsexyu.com

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The suggestions and opinions offered on this site are not meant to dissuade any reader from seeking the advice and care of his or her own appropriate and licensed health care provider. The reader is strongly encouraged to seek out and establish a meaningful relationship with such a provider who will have the opportunity and responsibility to examine him or her and offer individualized health care suggestions and services.