but it is about love. [and rebellion.]
I’m sure your inbox is chock-a-block full of emails this week with every variation on the theme of love and Valentine’s day. Well, not here! At least, sort of.
It’s natural for this topic to come up, of course, and the idea definitely occurred to me, but as I started thinking about it and throwing around some ideas in my mind, I kept coming back to one thing: the biggest key I’ve learned about loving myself in the past couple of years.
I mentioned, back in this post, that I’ve been working on loving myself for the last couple of years. It’s been a ‘catch as catch can’ sort of thing- I’ve not been 100% dedicated to it on a 24/7 basis. But I do feel like I love myself a lot more than I used to.
In all honesty, I think that’s probably a mid-life thing. I, and a lot of women I know, are:
- more accepting of themselves
- tired of the message to not accept ourselves
- have been to some level of therapy
- tired of the voices in our heads that aren’t loving
These things are also definitely in the realm of how your brain chemistry changes as the estrogen begins to leave your system. We get more focused, less cautious, less tolerant of bullshit, and less willing to deal with stupid shit. (Some women have been blessed with this their whole lives. You are stars in my universe. I am only now coming in to this understanding and feeling it in my body.)
So, after inconsistent efforts at loving myself over the past couple of years, let me tell you the greatest secret I’ve learned about how to love yourself: love yourself.
Whatever you know to be ‘love’ or ‘loving’ to other people- do that for you, inside your own head, inside your own heart.
Maybe you start with kindness.
Maybe you start with patience.
Maybe you start with forgiving yourself for some daily mistakes.
Maybe you start with just shushing the judgmental voices inside.
Maybe you start with giving yourself an internal hug when it’s a shit day.
Maybe you start with taking a breath when it starts to feel yucky inside.
Whatever it is, however it looks, the key to loving yourself is just straight up loving yourself.
Now, I’m not gonna say this is easy. You might have to be a bit of a rebel to make it happen.
You might have to say a righteous old, “FUCK. OFF.” to any external or cultural messages that say you’re not lovable.
You might have to dismiss some of the crap you see on TV and read in magazines about how you need to be fixed (or updated or whatever).
You might have to raise a middle finger (or the V if you’re from the UK or the horns if you’re from Spain!) to friends or family who get joy from bringing you down.
You might have to speak up for yourself at work.
If you are a woman of color, you might have to hold some serious boundaries around racist bullshit. (Okay, and white women, please see these kinds of boundaries as an act of self love on the part of women of color, k?)
You might have to take yourself in for some therapy and clean out some childhood beliefs that no longer feel like love.
You might have to learn how to be patient, loving, and kind with yourself.
But it can be done. And it’s worth doing.
Self love is certainly something that falls under the umbrella of this Valentine’s week theme of love. But I hope you will take a moment, in the midst of considering your romantic and partnership love roles, to think about loving your self. It may seem like a far off thing, but I think it’s actually something that might be closer and easier than you think. A bit of kindness. A bit of patience. A bit of love. You deserve it. You really do.