~~~Hey folks, this is an excerpt of my 2nd book, which is in final editing phases right now. Yippee! If you’re interested in snagging a copy once it’s released, make sure to subscribe to email notifications on this blog… And you’ll be the first to know! ~~~
There’s a boatload of guidance, information, books, and programs about self-love, self-care, and healing the relationship with self. If it was that simple, we’d all be shitting rainbows of pure unconditional self-worth by now.
If you don’t love yourself yet, you’re probably doing all that self-work wrong. Work harder. <– That’s the message I kept receiving while on my journey. And, frankly, it’s bullshit.
Trying to sling-shot from a rocky relationship with a person right into a trusting loving relationship with that same person is rarely successful or sustainable. Rebuilding trust is challenging to do, especially if the other person has considered killing you. That’s what we’re looking at when asking a suicidal person to just “learn to love themselves.” They must rebuild trust with a person who has tried to or threatened to kill them: their own self.
Even if someone isn’t suicidal, they likely have been much kinder to others than they have to themselves. As such, they’ve lived a life where they’ve regularly reinforced the belief that other people are more important. Going from that mindset to “I LOVE MYSELF AND I AM WORTHY” is not an overnight journey. If self-love is the destination, then we have a few other stops on the way.
I recently spoke with a woman in recovery whose 14-year-old son started having suicidal ideations. I checked in with her a couple months after the incident and she said, “He’s not any better. I mean, he’s not suicidal anymore but he’s still depressed.”
My response was something like, “That’s great that he’s depressed!” I went on to explain that depression is a step in the right direction if the previous stop was actively wanting to die. Once he’s leveled out, they can combine forces to help him take the next steps away from being constantly depressed toward occasional depression. From there, they can move on to the next stages of healing. Disliking the self is better than hating the self. Tolerating the self is better than disliking the self. Liking is better than tolerating, and so on.
In the second section of this book, I talk about something similar with different emotional states as denoted by a typical 1-10 scale.
Let’s say it’s our goal to swing from an emotional 1 (meltdown / “all is lost”) to 8-10 (“holy shit life is good”), which is often the pressure we put on ourselves. This is like someone who is 200 pounds overweight starving themselves and over-exerting during exercise in an effort to lose those 200 pounds overnight.
Is it possible to make it in one Hail Mary attempt?
Sure, it is. After a random weekend of yoga, meditation, eating well, and being surrounded by loving, high-vibe people, it’s easy to feel on top of the world. But if the self-care used to achieve that 7-8 range isn’t sustained, and-let’s say-someone goes back to a normal day-to-day of eating crappy food and watching crappy TV and engaging in self-defeating behavior… the vine has no choice but to swing the other way with the inversely proportional force put into the first swing. The object in motion (our darling stick figure) will stay in motion, and gravity will help pull the person down while momentum helps fling the person back to where they started. It’s a basic law of motion.
I was stuck in that cycle for a long time. I’d feel on top of the world one day and then feel like dying the next. I’d swing back and forth, normally anchoring into the familiarity of the 1-2 range. After so long in the misery of suicidality or depression, I’d use the pain as a fire under my ass to take yet another daring leap toward self-love, and thus the cycle would repeat itself.
So… What’s the alternative?
First, cut the damn vine.
Now, with the shortened “vine” (which translates to lesser amount of energetic / emotional exertion), swing from one number to its successor. Anchor into that number for a bit, allowing oneself time to adapt to this move in the desired direction.
Another way to look at these trajectory arrows (the way the vine is swinging) is as neural pathways being created in the brain. By taking small, sustainable steps to move from a 1 to a 2, and then a 2 to a 3 and a 3 to a 4 (and so on), the grooves in the brain leading from 3 offer two probable options: swing to 4 or swing back to 2. This means that, once we’ve sustainably arrived to an 8-which takes time, repetition, and patience-a bump in the road is only going to drop us down a couple numbers, rather than sling-shotting us back to miserable meltdown mode.
So how can this be applied to real-life stuffs?
It can be easy to fall into the GO BIG OR GO HOME mentality of, say, a New Year’s Resolution. People are like, “I’m gonna’ quit smoking, quit eating sugar, stop cussing, and work out 5 times a week!” Even the most dedicated person will struggle to find lasting results with such a big leap.
So we start small. We may have smoke-free, sugar free, F word-free, exercise-full life as a goal we’re working toward. That’s great. But first, we’ve gotta’ start with one and do so in a way which increases our chances of following through.
Cut the long vine into smaller sections. Focus on tiny, sustainable changes.
The best part about this? You can start now, this very second. No amount of excuses or rationalization can overcome the fact that taking a tiny step toward bettering your relationship with yourself is currently possible.
Let go of the pressure to love yourself and the shame instilled upon us for not being there yet. Be where you are, cut the vine into a shorter section, and make your next journey an easy one. Because, even if you don’t know it yet, you are worth the effort.
If you don’t believe that, believe that I believe it.
You know what to do, and it’s up to you to do it. And to do it in a maintainable, realistic way.
Comment below with what challenges you’ve encountered on your journey to self-love. What would happen if you removed the overnight pressure and let the relationship naturally, organically heal? What would that feel like?
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