By; Angie Walker
The question that everyone yearns to find out…
When you are born, you are this brand-new bundle of existence with your eyes wide open, wanting to soak up every little piece of information that passes you by. At some point in your life (maybe from the day you were born) you start to experience life’s challenges – traumas of varying degrees, i.e., societal, environmental, with or without privileges such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability and religion. These are all things that you are born with that are completely out of your control. You may have already been handed challenges before you took your first breath on earth.
Self-care such as baths, essential oils, getting manicures, yoga, meditating, feeding your body with proper nutrients, exercising, learning to breathe, all the things that you love that make you feel good- these are all extensions of self-love. These tools make you feel better momentarily but won’t heal the heart. They are band-aid solutions.
You can cover yourself with all the glitter in the world but unless you do the deep, sometimes dark work you won’t truly love yourself. You need to see the dark to see the light. Don’t get me wrong – doing all that self-care is important! I do all these things as much as I can! They will help you on the road to self-love recovery and will train your mind-body to continue habits that are good for you. These tools are ideal when you are down or struggling to give you that little lift to be able to move forward.
If you have some things you are not dealing with due to whatever your circumstances in your life, all the self-care in the world really won’t matter in the end. It’s just managing the symptoms, not taking care of the problem. You must face your demons, the darkness, the things that really bother you. Look deep into your soul and look straight into all those things that you don’t like about yourself or haven’t faced.
As you go through life, you start to experience disappointments, heartbreak, betrayal, abandonment, loss and all kinds of things that start to leave invisible wounds and scars. Life throws some major challenges that can make you feel so low that sometimes you wonder if you can get back up.
Over time all these little scars leave you feeling disconnected from who you are. You may start to make bad decisions, pick up bad habits which can turn into addictions, surround yourself with the wrong people and self-sabotage, all just to cope and be able to deal with all the heartache and pain. You are in survival mode.
Just like your muscles get tight and restricted, so does your heart over a lifetime of situations and ideals put upon you from the day you were born. These scars cause restrictions that might make you want to protect, just like muscles do when the get tight. They contract, they hold back, they withdraw.
Restrictions of the heart show themselves in many ways including not trusting how you feel, self-doubt, sadness, self-hate, depression, anxiety, and fear. They affect your self-confidence, throw your hormone chemistry out of whack, dampen your spirit, and dim your light.
You will start to doubt yourself and your abilities and who you are, you forget how to take care of yourself in the way that’s feeding love to your soul. You completely forget (or never find) who you are supposed to be.
But how do you find this love for yourself?
Before I continue, I must mention this self-work can be very traumatic and triggering for some people. Finding resources, such as a professional therapist, is a good first step. Everyone experiences varying degrees of darkness. Please seek professional help if you are finding it too difficult on your own. This is very important.
Look deep into your soul and discover all those things that you don’t like or haven’t faced. You may have to disappear and save all your energy for yourself for a time period. Take a break from social media. cancel plans, show up for yourself, spend some time in nature if possible. The people that love you and respect you will respect your decision to take selfish selfless needed time. That’s ok!
You can’t love yourself until you face yourself and all the parts of yourself you do not like.
This may take time. Maybe your whole life! Self-love is a lifelong commitment to you that will always continue to change and grow depending on your life experiences.
Sometimes going through hard times forces you to deal with aspects of yourself. You never know what life is going to throw at you but the more time you spend on healing those parts of yourself, the easier it will be to get through those challenging times without it tearing down your world every single time.
All those extensions of self-love which is all that self-care will become your tool box – a way to give yourself a break and show yourself and your body you do love it.
Let me share what self-love has been for me. The last 7 years have been particularly difficult for me personally. This last year was probably one of the hardest and which I also had the most growth in.
I learned a whole lot about myself and things I don’t like about myself. I retreated for most of the year. I had to take a breather from my business, people, and a lot of what I would usually enjoy doing. I needed to get quiet and alone. I spent most of the summer in my dark room with the blinds closed. I did a lot of thinking. I broke down but I broke through. Over some time, I have come to realize this has all been part of my personal growth and learning how to love myself. This journey that doesn’t stop until we take our last breath.
I am thankful for all my challenges, for they have helped tear down walls for me to see myself with love. They have opened my eyes and continue to open my eyes, allowing me to see others through eyes of compassion, patience, and love. To be thankful daily for all I do have and all I am able to do. To understand how my actions, affect others. To learn to breathe more and listen more. To breathe in love. To share the love I have with people who need it. To learn how to protect my energy from the people who don’t know any better. Stop comparing myself to others. Be aware of my own ego and keep it in check. To be aware of my own privileges. To be mindful and thoughtful to others who don’t have certain privileges and how they are affected. Be respectful of different cultures. Be mindful of my words and my language. To keep learning and unlearning all the bullshit that was thrown at me over the years. Learning to love and embrace my imperfections more than anything else. I still have so much work to do and undo, which I am committed to for as long as it takes.
Self-love is so much more than just self-care. It’s how you show up, what choices you make, how you react to situations, how you help others around you. Loving yourself is also loving the world around you. It is learning your own boundaries of what you can give and when you need to keep for yourself. All these things change you as a person. Rewiring your brain will slowly start to re light your soul.
Do the work and you will find it. Right there inside you. It’s that spark, that light, all those amazing things – your soul, your purpose, the reason you were born. Find that person again and you will truly find how to love yourself. As the saying goes, “You hold the key to your happiness”. Now jump in and unlock it! Be your own hero and embrace your beautiful self. Scars and all.