Have you ever complained about something, and someone else just said, “oh, you’re fine. You’re tough. You’ll be fine,” and you thought to yourself, “you aren’t hearing me at all?” Have you even had someone tell you what you SHOULD do, or what you’re supposed to do, even though it goes against what feels right to you? Have you ever experienced someone tell you that you weren’t smart, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not getting it right or you’re not enough?
Doesn’t it suck when that person is you?
How Do I Love Myself: My Journey of Beating Myself Up to Loving Me Unconditionally
I heard someone say once that our parents hit us over the head with a bat (telling us what we should be, or how to act, that we are doing it wrong), and then one day (when we move out) they hand the bat to us, and we beat ourselves up worse than they ever did.
This is not loving ourselves.
This is being a harsh judge, a harsh critical parent to ourselves.
It is not loving.
I have so many clients come to see me in different kinds of suffering and pain. Some are pain in their bodies, some in the relationships. But the common theme that we discover is causing the discomfort and dis-ease is not knowing how to access loving with an open heart, especially towards ourselves.
You see, most of us have hardened down our hearts.
We put a protective shield up around us, and that’s smart and probably for good measure. We are very likely protecting ourselves from reexperiencing an abuse or trauma from the past.
The trouble is, when your heart is hardened, you actually don’t have access to love. Not for yourself, your child(ren), your spouse, God, or anyone… We think we love our children. How could we not? They’re little miracles.
But when we are hurting inside and we’ve shut down our hearts (and in protective mode) we are less likely to respond to our children with the courage to either let them explore or to put healthy boundaries around them (or possibly, sadly, both of these things).
Instead, we tell them what we think we know.
We tell them who to be, how to act, what’s right and wrong… And start handing the bat over to them…We are reacting, rather than acting on purpose or responding after a pause. Click To Tweet
This is not love.
When I do inner child work with my clients, we show up for the little child.
The adult self is there.
I’m teaching the adult how to be a loving presence for the child. But many times, the adult doesn’t know HOW to be a loving presence for the child! It ends up being heartless, challenging or invalidating.
The child will be quietly somber, and the adult will say,
- You’re resilient.
- You’re so smart and tough!
- You’ll be ok!
The adult thinks they’re being loving.
But they’re doing what their parents did.
Conditional love and invalidating feelings and concerns.
Instead, I’ll have them say, “you seem so sad and upset. Are you ok?”
This curiosity allows the child to explore and express the feelings buried deep inside.
We don’t take the time to ask our loved ones how they are feeling. It’s so important to validate those feelings once they’re found. Not dismiss them.We live in a culture that dismisses feelings of others because we don't know how to sit with our own pain. Click To Tweet
If I can’t sit with my own pain, I can’t sit with yours.
(This is why I personally take time to meditate, do personal development, therapy, programs, and whatever else I can get my hands on. I want to explore all of my feelings and buried traumas so I can resolve my pain, in order to sit with others in their pain.)
I think this is where many healers and therapists fall short, they don’t do enough work on their own pain, but that’s a story for a different day.
Click here to watch a video of Heather explaining How we think we love ourselves, but we are really just beating ourselves and each other up because we aren’t validating feelings.
Validated Feelings or Complaining?
Here’s an example:
It was a hot day. It was very hot. It was one of those I started to wonder if I’d died and gone to hell hot days.
And I complained that it was hot. I complained that I was sweating. That my feet were burning. That I was sticky. It was awful.
The family member I was with said, “you complain too much.”
Here is a great example of someone who isn’t willing to sit with their pain. It appears they’re unable to sit with MY pain, but the reason they don’t want to hear me complain is to push away their own discomfort of hearing me talk about it.
Luckily, this particular family member has done a lot of personal growth work too, and I was able to say, “ow” and the response was, “Oops, I’m sorry. I know you’re hot. It’s really fucking hot. You’re hot. I’m hot. Everyone is so hot. It’s really hot. It’s terrible. And please stop talking about it.”
That was so validating!
When I heard that, I didn’t need to complain anymore. I felt heard and understood and not alone. What a different response from “just stop it.”
But we do that all the time with ourselves.
Just stop it.
We tell ourselves we are not worthy of being heard. We tell ourselves to stop whining and complaining. Stop feeling mad, stop feeling jealousy. Stop it. Stop it.
But we can’t just stop it. So, we push it away. And bury it.We use addictions to cover up the pain. Click To Tweet
This is not loving yourself.
Sitting With Your Feelings
- Loving yourself means listening.
- It means validating yourself.
- It means making space to sit with the hard feelings.
The way a loving mother would sit with a tiny child who has the flu.
The mother cannot make the flu go away. But the loving mother stays with her child. She holds their hand. She is there.
We have the capacity for compassion and love like this for ourselves. We can sit with ourselves when we’ve done something AWFUL! When we do something we totally regret or feel guilty about.
We can sit with ourselves, and instead of saying “you idiot. Why did you do that?!”
We can say, “I’m here with you. I love you. I know it hurts, but I’m here. I’m not leaving. I know it hurts. It really stinks. Pain sucks. But I’m here.
Can you imagine doing that for yourself?
Sitting with yourself after you’ve drank too much again, or acted out sexually, or stuffed your face with too much food, or overspent the credit limit… again…
Can you imagine sitting with yourself in that and saying to yourself:
“I’m here. I feel this with you. Let’s stay with the feeling. Let’s be here. Let’s experience life. Even if it’s painful. Let’s really FEEL this. I’m not leaving. I love you. I know it’s hard, but I’m here. However long it takes, tell me how you feel. Tell me how it hurts. Tell me what you need. I love you.”
Can you imagine how that might be different?
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Over the years, I have been a serial learner and practitioner, taking in information about psychology, religion, spirituality, science, medicine, quantum physics, relationships, parenting, and overall, general happiness and work-life balance. I’ve been fascinated in what it takes to and have created my life of pure joy, happiness, balance and peace. It is my mission to spread what I have learned and practiced to you in ways that are simple, easy to understand AND implement. I have served people in achieving realignment in their bodies, relationships and purpose for over 20 years. If you liked this article about how to get sex right now, and you want to read more, please visit one of the links below: