You have to love yourself. End. Of. Story.
What else is there really on this individual journey we’re all taking? If you don’t love yourself, how can you possibly love another and radiate that love to your work, creativity, the birthing of new ideas and bringing something tangible and worthwhile into the world?
When we get triggered in life, when we get rejected, when we want to give up all hope and chuck it all in, we must come back to self-love.
Our culture, though, has a misunderstanding of what self-love is.
We think it’s namby-pamby, new-age-y, kumbaya phooey.
But self-love is brass tacks being. Think about acting. The art of acting is in many ways one of the highest expressions of creative love. We share ourselves bravely with other human beings through this vehicle of intimacy and vulnerability and power and courage.
When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t think I had time for self-love. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I just thought I could barrel through everything, continue to take action and keep going. But eventually, life is going to catch up with you. What you resist persists.
We have to love ourselves, but not by the standards society sets because those are measured by the external. We equate the expression of love through things. If you’re not aware, your self-love becomes based on things that society says signifies love. Those measurements are not only unattainable but also ephemeral and can be destructive because they’re based on illusions. Ashton Kutcher says, “There’s a propaganda machine around fame and celebrity.” We think if we get that, we’ve got life by the balls. But self-love doesn’t come from how beautiful or physically fit we are, or if we have a perfect figure with 5% body fat or how successful or popular or famous or stylish we are.
It comes from self-acceptance.
You have nothing to prove. To anyone. Whether you are working or not. Famous or not. Established or not. You’re already okay as you are.
Self-acceptance requires us to love those parts of ourselves we don’t already love. Those parts of ourselves we keep hidden, that we’re scared of, that we think something’s wrong with us for having them. These are the parts that we actually need to live in our wholeness.
The parts equal the whole. Not some parts. All parts.
I had a student recently who told a story of how he bullied a number of kids when he was in elementary school (he himself being a victim of bullying). Now as an adult – and a famous actor to boot – he does a lot of charitable work on behalf of organizations that help bring awareness to anti-bullying campaigns. But he feels because of his celebrity that he’s a hypocrite for doing so. How could someone who bullied so many kids now be stumping for charities about anti-bullying?
His own guilt and shame around that part of himself shows that bullying never ends.
We bully ourselves.
But the deeper learning comes from the insight that it’s not in spite of his having been a bully that he’s now charitable, it’s because of it. All parts of ourselves make us whole. Even the parts we’re ashamed of and continue beating ourselves up for.
Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Realize all experiences in life lead us to wholeness.
Without them you wouldn’t be where you are today.