How can you love yourself when you feel you made the wrong choice or feel unlovable?
- How to love myself
Dear How to Love Myself,
The simple answer is that loving yourself means ALL OF YOU — imperfections and all — so how could you not love yourself? You're wonderful!
It's a no-brainer to love what's good and easy. But, of course, anyone can do that — it's like loving a gooey brownie. But to love oneself when you feel you haven't done something right, messed up, mistreated someone, or committed any one of a million other infractions in life? That is real love.
Most people grow up with conditional love: "Good girl for cleaning your room." "Good boy for sharing." "You broke my favorite golf club. I'll never forgive you." I can't love a child who doesn't obey me." On the other hand, unconditional love means that no matter what you do, you are still loved.
Unconditional love is real, so why not begin to give that kind of love to yourself? I assume it's because you are holding on to an old belief that you'll love yourself when you are good enough. But I am here to encourage you to love yourself as you are today, with all your bumps, bruises, mishaps, faux pas, imperfections, and so on!
My son is 9 and learning how to cook. He is so excited about this experience. He dreams of making cookies, muffins, eggs, bacon, and beyond. But he, like everyone else, gets caught between the dream and the learning. For example, the other day, he was making an egg. He took out all of his ingredients and tools: egg, salt, butter, water, pan, bowl, fork, and spatula. When he broke his egg into the bowl, he made sure that there were no pieces of the shell. He carefully pinched in some salt and poured some water. He whisked, heated the pan, and put in the butter. He waited (which is difficult for him) and asked me to check if the pan was ready. It was, and so he poured his egg into the pan. He waited again as the egg began to cook, then gently folded it to make it light and fluffy. But it crumbled as he tried to pick it up off the pan and put it on the plate.
He had done so well. What an accomplishment to learn to cook! An egg, although simple, is no easy feat. I watched him as he walked to the table. His face looked over his plate as if something had gone wrong. He sat down and took a bite, then paused. I could already guess what was coming next: "Mamma, my egg isn't good. I don't think I can do this. It's not like your eggs." I could see from his face his internal mind beating him up, telling him he was wrong, not good enough, and never would be. He could not see what I could — the beauty that he was, the joy that he had created in trying something new, the bravery in his willingness to get it wrong.
I leaned over to him and took his hand. "My little love, there's no better time to love yourself than when you think you don't deserve it."
And so I say to you, my little one (because aren't we all just children of the Universe?): Love yourself as much as you can until finally, you can't decipher when to do it or not, so you just always do. There is nothing that is not lovable about you. We all do things we are not proud of—perhaps steal, lie, or hurt another person—but these are things we can grow from. We can make amends to those people we have hurt or wronged and change. Without loving ourselves through these moments, we cannot grow. We'll just continue to hurt ourselves and hurt others. Love is the light that helps us grow, like the sun to a tree. So be gentle to yourself on this journey, and all will be well.