Are you just a LITTLE sick of the word self-love?

If you are, I feel you. I really do. I feel like this word is EVERYWHERE lately. In my chosen world of nutrition and mindset-development, I can feel like I’m brushing my teeth with self-love toothpaste. This may SOUND a little cynical but I assure you it is not.

It’s just, the term feels a little generic to me. I have had trouble getting my shoulder behind it.

It doesn’t resonate in the muscle of my heart. The language feels a little vanilla and for a long time, I had trouble TRULY implementing it into my life. It didn’t click with me.

Maybe it’s the word “love.”

I’ve never had to TRY to love something the same way I’ve had to TRY to love myself. If I didn’t love it, on some level, I could walk away from it, until I had to try to love myself. I had to TRY to love something that kept making the same mistakes over and over, that made my body gain excess weight, that sabotaged me, that made me say and think things I didn’t like, that caused conflict and had nasty thoughts.

No thank you very much.

Instead, I continued on my path of cheery self-love. Even thought it didn’t feel quite right, I started to praise myself when I was really on my game and it started to work. I started to feel empowered. I start to feel like I had a handle, like I was in control and the boss. I was GOOD. I was squelching that inner bad-ass. I was taming that beast. I drew a line in the sane that divided me and her and I shut her in the basement. I was “owning” her and kind of making her my bitch. She had nothing on me.

I’m about to make an analogy here so I feel it necessary to make the point that I had a truly wonderful childhood….Okay, but here goes my analogy.

If my inner bad-ass was a 14 year-old kid, I sent her those prison boot-camps on Maury Povich and Ricky Lake. You know the ones. There would be some burly trainer yelling in the faces of troubled youth. The kids would typically have had really tough childhoods and would be sent by their parents/guardians to get their asses kicked into shape. Let me tell you, Ricky Lake had it figured out. I’m sure it’s really effective in the long run, instilling fear and rejection in an already misunderstood, confused and angry child.

Well, MY “14 year-old-bad-ass” self’s animosity started to grow and she would come back in moments of weakness and completely take over and I would feel like a total fraud. There I was making a career in wellness and self-development and I felt like a hypocrite. She would say nasty things about others and about me, she would make me reach for food I didn’t even want and make me eat it.

The thing is, I couldn’t really even acknowledge her to myself or anyone else because that meant I was a failure, so I just tried to keep her hidden, far from view. I could not show my darkness, my inner-ugly.

In a breakthrough session with my coach, I told her how much I hated this part of myself.

I told her how much she disgusted me. She was perverse. She was so needy and disruptive, gluttonous and catty. Why wouldn’t she just leave? She made me feel terrible. Why couldn’t she just DIE already?!? I was not expecting what I heard next. I was expecting to be coached on how to kill this inner bad-ass and instead she came back with a new idea.

“This is the part of yourself you must completely accept.”

Scooby Doo moment. “Hrrruuuh?”

Okaaaaaaay.

Maybe love had been the wrong word all along. Because love is not an action in-and-of-itself. It is an emotion, one that has a thousand colors and contexts.

HOW does a person love? We love by accepting. We love by embracing. We love by verbally validating. We love by comforting. We love by gifting. We love through touch. This is why it hadn’t been translating for me. ACTION. I had to REACH for her. I had to soothe her. I had to actually SPEAK to her. Finally, I had to celebrate her, as I am choosing to do now.

Oh my God. Oh. My. God. Of course. I had it upside down. I thought loving myself was digging the best parts of myself. It never occurred to me I had to love all of myself, including my shame, including my ugliness. I had been absolutely refusing to accept the DARK me. The UGLY me. The more I shoved her down, the more her resolve strengthened. The more she would start to “own” me.

As the late and great Debbie Ford, author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, would say:

“What you resist persists,” and “what you won’t be with won’t let you be.”

When I thought about it, my shadow-self had been with me forever. She was present in the little girl who would find the one freshly divorced person in the room and ask,

“Why doesn’t your husband love you anymore?” (I actually did that at four).

This is the same little girl who loved things so hard she would crush them (Think of Elvira on “Looney Toons”). I couldn’t be around puppies. Fortunately, this has grown into misplaced maternal feelings for dogs. I no longer try to squeeze them to death.

This is the same little girl who would immediately ask a cancer-patient who just started losing their hair, “Are you afraid to die?”

I would LOVE so hard I wanted to taste some blood. I actually remember this feeling. Somewhere in me, this girl still lives and I had implemented some pretty bad parenting skills. I had locked her in a basement, told her she was worthless and thrown away the key.

This is the same girl who makes it POSSIBLE for me to go to the dark-side and play some pretty sick roles, who gives me the courage to go on stage without apology. She has gifted me my strength, my tenacity, my backbone. She was the one who would stand up to bullies, who fiercely defending those she loved, who spoke her mind, who would ALWAYS try to get her way and who made me feel brave.

In that moment, I realized I needed to let her out of the basement a bit. Maybe SHE had something to teach ME. In that moment, I decided to accept her. Furthermore, I decided to celebrate her.

I thought I had it all figured out but this is really the shift really began. This is the moment I understood self-love.

We all have our inner-rebel, our bad-ass, our SHADOW self, our UGLY.

It starts with letting them out of the basement and giving them a much-needed embrace.

It starts with celebrating your darkness.

What UGLY can you start to celebrate? Start the conversation by commenting below!

Rock On and Be Well,
Beth

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