I’ve always had it in my head that to have a big change in perception/habit/personality it had to be preceded by a monumental “a-ha” moment; something huge that slaps you in the face with the brute force of its clarity and resonance. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year it’s that the biggest changes are gradual, a slow moving propulsion you hardly see. It’s an inching; a crawl towards something you didn’t even know you needed until you’re faced with a scenario that illuminates this change. The change crept in and suddenly, something in you is anew.
For me, this happened recently. I’ll preface this by saying working towards ultimate, uninhibited self love has been a series of implementing little habits, which I talked about here. But some days I skip my meditations. Some days I eat a whole bag of chips. Some days I walk 10,000 steps and truthfully, most days I don’t. It’s been a constant conversation in my mind about my strengths and weaknesses and when time allows, diving deep to examine my thoughts and beliefs. It’s work, plain and simple.
I used to believe that if I didn’t like a person, it was somehow a reflection of my shortcomings. I believed it said more about me than it did about the person. Oh, how wrong I was! In my guilt for not enjoying someone, I’d ramp up my efforts to try to like them. After a night out, I’d text asking if they had fun. I’d invite them over to try to connect further to find the good that made other people like them. And “good” is relative here; everyone has a blend of positive and negative attributes. That’s life. It’s whether the traits you admire/respect/like outweigh the ones you don’t. When you like someone you can overlook their flaws. When the traits you deem flaws are too much, you can say you don’t like them! AND THATS OKAY! You can’t like everyone, guys! Not everyone likes you and not everyone dislikes you. This is the beauty of humanity: we’re a melting pot of traits, inherited and downloaded, born with and adopted, that makes each person so individual. It’s impossible to jive with every person you meet. And that’s okay too.
Frankly, I was wasting time trying to force myself to like certain people so I’d feel better about myself. Instead of putting energy into friends that I loved, I was putting energy into people that I didn’t really like. Why would anyone do this? Because I thought if I liked everyone, I’d be that perfect person I wanted to be. Isn’t that backwards? However, I have to believe I’m not alone in this behaviour.
Lately I’ve been acknowledging that just because I don’t like someone doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means I don’t jive with someone. They could be the coolest people ever to someone else but between us, there’s dissonance. And that’s okay! It’s all okay.
This small lesson is freeing me up to focus on the ones I love and respect and it frees the other person up to find the people who will love and respect them best. It’s a symbiotic sacrifice, really.
In a similar vein, I had to set a boundary with someone I love deeply. Our friendship fractured last summer and right now, it feels irreparable. She recently reached out to me and I panicked. I wanted to talk to my best friends who I felt were more compassionate and better communicators to tell me what to do. Subconsciously, I wanted them to tell me I wasn’t a bad person if I couldn’t give this friend what she was hoping for. I wanted them to tell me it was okay to set boundaries. But the universe has my back and knew I didn’t need anyone to tell me what I subconsciously knew. My three friends didn’t answer their phones. I was on my own. Intuitively, I knew what I had to do. But in my panic, I needed reassurance.
Self respect and self love is tuning into yourself and listening for the answers. Your relationship with your body is deep and primal. Your body knows what your brain merely thinks. Your body picks up cues faster, processes faster, knows faster. My body knew what I had to do even though my brain was lagging behind.
Self respect and love is doing what is best for you, even when it hurts to do it. It’s knowing the decision will be hard but the eventual outcome will be better. It’s not allowing anyone to treat you in any way that is cruel, unkind or disrespectful.
It’s the love for yourself that matters most, above all else. This slow shift towards loving myself has finally bloomed into someone who doesn’t feel wracked with guilt or shame for not loving every person she meets. She’s blossoming into someone who communicates better, sets healthy boundaries and focuses on the people who she loves and who love her in return. She’s not a bad person for having flaws or negative thoughts or feelings towards self or others. She’s human. Gloriously human.
There was no “a-ha” moment of, “oh wow, I sure do love myself now.” It was a transition that was gradual that when faced with some hard situations, emerged as a big awareness of self love.
I’m not sharing this as a brag although I’m so proud of myself but guys, it feels so good to acknowledge these things and more, ACCEPT these things. It feels even better to realize my hard work has paid off and I’m loving this woman I am! FINALLY!
There’s probably not going to be any instantaneous “a-ha” moment that will wake you up to your greatness and worth. You have to do the work. It’s the little things that add up to the sudden “a-ha” of realizing you love yourself: taking a walk when you don’t want to, hugging yourself in the mirror, having hard conversations, budgeting your finances, dreaming of your future, eating more greens and basically, living your life today in a way that supports the life you want later. It’s honouring yourself in such a way that there’s an almost imperceptible shift towards this knowing that says, “I love me”. So what can you do today that will lead you to that ultimate self love we all seem to be searching for?!