Sometimes our body and brain aren’t gonna give us the results we want.
It’s on us to love ourselves anyway.
I know, that sounds paradoxical— why would I love myself, my body, my brain, if all they do is frustrate me?
Why should I love a body that is in pain all the time?
Why should I love a brain that makes it hard to function with the kind of things it urges me to do, the kinds of thoughts it thinks, the kinds of memories it contains?
Here’s the thing: we can’t make our self-love dependent on the “results” we produce in our life.
I’m not talking about liking or approving of ourselves.
There are MANY times when I don’t like OR approve of myself.
I frustrate myself PLENTY. I guarantee I frustrate myself more than most of the people reading this frustrate themselves.
But self-love isn’t about liking or approving.
I love my cat; I don’t always approve of the way she scratches my furniture.
There are people in my life who I DESPERATELY love— but whose behavior, including the things they think or say, I sometimes don’t like.
We CAN love ourselves, but be frustrated with ourselves.
We CAN love ourselves, even if we have mixed or negative feelings about some of the results we’ve produced (or NOT produced!) in our lives.
For a lot of us, this is hard because we grew up with this idea that approval is the key to love.
Many of us were only, or mainly, shown affection (or even just attention) when we did something well.
We constantly felt like we had to “perform” for the love of the adults around us.
When we didn’t “perform,” or didn’t perform adequately, it’s not even that we were always punished— sometimes we were just ignored.
For a kid who is craving attention and attachment, that might have been particularly difficult.
The point is, we didn’t grow up with a realistic idea of what “love” means.
As adults, we don’t instinctively know that to displease someone is just that— to displease them. It’s not the end of the world, and it happens every day.
But to love someone— including ourselves— means that, even WHEN we’re displeased (ESPECIALLY when we’re displeased!), we don’t abandon them.
Lots of people reading this need practice with sticking with ourselves even when we don’t like or approve of ourselves.
We need practice having our own back even when we’re a disappointment to ourselves or others.
You’re gong to hear lots of toxic positivity to the tune of, “you’re not a screw up!”
I agree, YOU’RE not a “screw up”…but you WILL screw up. We ALL screw up. Me more than most.
The point of recovery is not “not screwing up.”
It’s accepting and loving ourselves even WHEN we screw up.
It’s accepting and loving ourselves even when we don’t feel we deserve it.
Love in the real world can be counterintuitive, because it doesn’t mean ways feeling positively toward someone— including ourselves.
Love is, most importantly, a verb.
It means to behave lovingly toward someone.
We need to behave lovingly toward ourselves— no matter what.
Even if we screwed up. Relapsed. Spent the day collapsed in a heap of depression or paralyzed with anxiety.
How do we behave lovingly toward ourselves when we’re not thrilled with our thoughts, feelings, or behavior?
We don’t persecute or torture ourselves.
We do the next right thing.
We talk to ourselves like a supportive coach talks to an athlete that has a bad game— with realism, but acknowledging strengths…and focusing on where to go NEXT.
The most loving thing we can do for ourselves is be real with ourselves, hold ourselves accountable— without self-hate or self-mockery.
If we’re actually invested in getting certain results in our life, self-love is a key concept.
We’re not going to hate ourselves into realistic, sustainable success.