What the Hell is Self-Love, Anyway?


What the hell is self-love, anyway?

This Libra full moon has been bringing up all the feelings about love and relationship, and for me it has been highlighted on my relationship to myself.

I have struggled my whole life with loving myself, anxiety, self-worth, and self-esteem. I’m sure you know what that feels like. I turned to spirituality and self-help gurus for help, and all I got was people telling me to “just love myself.” Does anyone else feel that frustration? Just change your thoughts! Just be happy! Just do better! Just feel better! Mmm. It felt like this big secret that I could never quite get in on. Like everyone else could just love themselves but I couldn’t figure out the how.

One morning I woke up with a particularly intense anxiety attack about the night before. With a sun in 8th house opposite Pluto in Scorpio, shadow work and dwelling on my inner stuff is a really big theme in my life. And it is scary to see what you are capable of. There I was, a baby healer trying to walk her path, but have never seen any spiritual teacher talking about their own shadow. I wondered how I could ever walk the path I wanted to walk if I was filled with my own darkness. AKA my humanity. I was fed up. I started to think — how could I possibly love myself when I have no idea what is going on with me? What do I even want to love about myself?

I sat there on my bedroom floor in New York staring at the rug and hugging my knees. What does self love even feel like?  I thought about the moments in which I have received true, genuine love. The highest compliments, the most validation, the biggest rush of pride and love. Two came to mind — when I was a hospice volunteer, and a woman said it would be an honor to die by my side, and when a writing coach told me that I had the power to grab people by the soul with my words and shake them up. I dissected those compliments and found an interesting similarity — it was about my character and my purpose.

I deduced that this was my ticket to self love. The next step was looking closely at my character. Character to me is made up of honor, integrity, and self-awareness. I realized that when I feel like I am in integrity with myself, so much of my anxiety fades away. Being out of integrity for me involved anything from undelivered communication to someone, to gossiping, to saying things I didn’t mean to be a people pleaser. It may look different on you — I have a big mouth. You may be sneaky. Or manipulative. Whatever you are — it is time to own it.

I still have those things in me. Holy crap my mouth is huge. When someone tells me something with “Don’t tell anybody,” I immediately want to publish a zine and post flyers around town and get one of those paper boy hats and yell “EXTRAY EXTRAY READ ALL ABOUT IT!” while ringing a giant bell. It’s a shitty thing that I possess, that I am aware of, that lost its power when I really looked at it. What is yours? Don’t be scared. Look at it, what is the character flaw that makes you doubt yourself?

Look at all parts of you, not just the good, but the darkest, most sinister parts. The parts of you that feel unlovable, unkind, unbearable sometimes. And then to look at the bigger parts of you that step into power in this world.

Everyone has the capability to kill someone else. Most of us don’t. Everyone has the capability to lie, cheat, steal, and fuck someone over, and then justify it in their head. Be the kind of person that doesn’t. Don’t internalize the fact that you can do something that is considered bad. You’re not alone. It was a life-altering moment for me when I realized that everyone had the capacity to be the same asshole I thought I was. Look at yourself rawly, deeply, authentically, in all your stank covered soul. This is considered the teachings of the moon.

This is where the moon guides us so deep inward, going into emotions and feelings, not all of which are kosher.

The “positive thinking” movement is dangerous because denies our God given humanity. Get angry, get rip shit, just don’t go and punch someone in the face. Rage the page, tear up a tissue box, write a seething letter dripping with angry words and cuss outs and burn it. Cut your energy cords, do a ritual to reclaim your energy back from the person. Cry, scream, laugh, dance — the moon is there with you, along for your journey, enlightening you through your darkest depths and into clarity. She wants you to go into your own night, your own darkness, and feel it. This is a part of self love, because you are truly seeing yourself. And then the thing about you that you were ashamed of, felt isolated in, becomes so small. It becomes a tool for empathy. It can guide you home to yourself when you’re in the dark.

It was this curiosity that lead me down the path of self love, which started with self acceptance, which started with the fact that yes, I am sensitive and passionate, I am a hot mess and a badass bitch, I am controlling and manipulative and I am selfless and empathic. Loving yourself is not about waking up and deciding you love the bags under your eyes, it is about owning you fully, good and bad, and then you are free. You have your flaws and your triumphs for a divine reason. My big mouth allows me to tell you stories about my path. It also allows me to fuck over a friend if I’m not being careful.

Once you get to know yourself, and you start owning yourself, your purpose will become more and more clear. It may start off as a little seed. But this purpose is what will ignite a fire so deep in your gut that you are made of passion. When you are in alignment with your purpose, self love comes with the package. Because you know what you are here to do. Because you were born to do it. Suddenly, you are cosmically connected to something higher, to humanity as a whole, and you carry the world in your heart and it comes out of your eyes when you speak. You can’t help but fall in love with you, when you are made of the elements like that.