Self Love is the New Drug
Self hate is an underground epidemic. How often do you think about your relationship with yourself? If it’s something you don’t consider, you’re likely living undiagnosed with the disease. Once we overlook its unfortunate association with arrogance, self love, we can all agree, is a good thing. If you are brave enough to explore the concept, you may realise just how deeply you are in need of this antidote.
Our resistance to evaluate the topic may be more than just fear of what we may find inside. Once we explore our choices we may be forced to admit we have been making the wrong decisions our whole lives. How many of us are living a life that contradicts our spirit every step of the way?
How many of us choose the wrong career path, marry the wrong person, ignore our parents, neglect our heath, allow others to disrespect us? How do we stray so far?
As a society we are so disconnected from our hearts, and that’s okay, because everyone else is too. It’s normal. Dreams are beat out of us, the schooling system degrades the arts while rewarding mind-based careers, and fear does the rest by keeping us controlled. Fear of not making enough money, not being respected, not being able to care for a family.
In my life I realised I justified one mistake by placing it on top of another. Sometimes we refuse to analyse whether our towers of personality are formed upon mistakes because to admit the next building block of life doesn’t quite fit means needing to go back and destroy the whole foundation from where it started.
At 27 years old and the start of 2020, my tower crumbled. I found myself at a complete loss as to what my purpose in life was. What I learnt during my six years at university rarely felt like a passion. I had just left a relationship with someone whom I felt never saw me. I wasn’t sure what I was chasing when I was aimlessly wandering the globe. Suddenly I was forced to stop and consider my next move. I just couldn’t take one more step in the wrong direction. I had to accept the hard truth a lot of the energy I had invested into my life had been in the wrong direction.
How could I let myself get in this situation? The true question was how did I let the voice of society override the voice of my soul.
In spirit of the quote, “A cliche becomes wisdom with experience” (unknown) self love changed my life. What self love really did was reconnect me with my heart.
Mindful meditation is to simply sit still with your thoughts and watch them. The more I watched my thoughts, the more I became aware of the endless stream of negative dialogue that was the norm for my mind. Judgement, guilt, shame, criticism, fear, regret. Not only did I think these thoughts, I felt them. Regret was the most recurring - it always brought with it the awful feeling of self punishment I tried to distract myself from.
I realised I had a problem with regret, stemming from an inability to forgive myself. I had stopped giving myself permission to make mistakes, and therefore choices, because I was so afraid of regret. I was debilitated by fear. Mistakes are important. You need mistakes to grow. By rejecting my failures, I had rejected my personal growth.
Jordan Peterson writes in his book ‘12 Rules for Life’, people treat themselves worse than they treat others because only they see the depths of their own darkness and evil, and that is hard to forgive. One of his rules is ‘Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.’
So I decided to forgive all my old mistakes. The ones I couldn't even think about. I wrote them over and over and over again and repeated “I forgive myself” until the words lost all meaning. Then I burnt the paper. I don’t know how, but it worked. Those memories rarely give me grief anymore. Sometimes they even make me laugh.
I shamelessly adapted other practises of self love, some from the book “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” by Kamal Ravikant. I began looking at myself in the mirror every day, repeating “I love you.” I repeat the mantra in my mind any time I remember it. If I am ever at a crossroads with a decision, I ask myself - “If I loved myself, what would I do?” Suddenly I am worth buying new socks for.
I then gave myself permission to fail. The world became my oyster as I knew I would be cool with myself no matter. I shaved my head, denounced my career path in science, and invested all my travel savings into my creativity. I went full Britney, and my whole life changed completely.
I have never felt more me, more free, more happy, more content, and most importantly, more alive. The spirit of adventure that has always been important to me has been resuscitated. I have attracted better people into my life. My relationships with my loved ones have improved. My pessimism for marriage has subdued. My corners have become more rounded. Even the person who I am in my dreams has changed. Life has just been better, and better to me.
By giving myself this freedom I have finally found my purpose. It's following my heart, one step at a time. Even though I cannot see far ahead, I have complete faith this is the right path. It’s funny how all the answers to everything you seek are within you the whole time. Your purpose is you.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
I began to understand the strength in forgiveness, whether it be forgiving myself or others. Mistakes are good. They mean we are learning. Sometimes forgiveness means accepting responsibility. Other times it helps us see that the things we hate in others are the same qualities we dislike in ourselves. If you can forgive someone for a mistake they made to you, you are able to forgive yourself if you made the same mistake. That’s power.
After forgiving myself I began apologising to others. I reached out to people I hadn’t spoken to in years and apologised for anything I was still carrying. Some things were trivial, like some dumb shit I did when I was 19 and drunk. Others were substantial. I reached out to my ex-boyfriend whom I hadn’t spoken to in almost two years since the end of our five year relationship. We both had things to apologise for. But he was a good person. In fact, much of my self love and confidence came from the love he showed me when we were younger. His ability to love and accept me for who I was allowed me to do the same, and I’ll always honor that. Having him back on my side as my friend has cleared so much negativity from my psyche.
As an interesting experiment, I began asking certain people in my life for the truest advice they could give me.
My Ex told me I need to trust and back myself more.
My Best Friend told me I let people back into my life too easily and I need to stand up for myself more.
Another Close Friend told me to always speak my truth and be firm when speaking for myself.
My Mother told me to think before I speak.
My Father told me to follow my heart.
What I later realised was most of the advice given to me was advice I felt those people themselves needed to hear. So I guess we project not only our self hate onto others, but also our insecurities or areas of growth. Practise forgiving others as a way of forgiving yourself.
With every act, both forgiving and apologising became easier. It stopped being a big deal. Grudges are extra baggage you carry in life that slow you down, like the bananas you keep hitting in Mario Kart. Apologising is always easier than you expect because usually the other person just wants peace too. I also learnt to truly forgive others without receiving an apology. Their actions are just a reflection of them. While I reached out to some, others I forgave from afar, deciding my forgiveness was a gift they could earn once they learnt responsibility, else they may never learn the lesson. It is extremely important to uphold boundaries with people who mistreat you, and more important to make peace with that than with them. I have also found it is true once you forgive someone they lose a hold over you. I realised some of my ‘enemies’ lived on through me in my mind. When I failed, it was their voices I heard. Since I’ve forgiven them, they no longer exist within me.
Self love was followed by self trust and self respect. As I became more aware of the ways others disrespected me I became less tolerable to it. I became ruthless in my demands for respect and was ready to risk losing relationships for it. I've walked away from friendships, business collaborations and even love because they treated me worse than I treat myself. I have never regretted walking away, and things have just worked out. I truly believe when you choose you, the Universe always rewards you.
What I found is usually people are grateful when you pull them up on their behaviour, and it opens channels for better communication. If not, they aren’t worth your time, and letting them go leaves room for new people to come in. At the end of the day, you are worth it.
I’d like to take a moment to mention the unrealistic body standards that exist for both genders in our culture today that fuel self hate. Eating disorders fuck up your ability to trust yourself after you break one unrealistic promise to yourself after another. It is incomprehensible the damage this is doing to our whole population, and we're all sick of it. We have to stop allowing people to profit off our self hate.
As I began clearing up the mess in my mind, I can’t describe the feeling within myself in any way other than just spacious. I can do cartwheels now. I have sucked so much poison from my life and removing this has left space for love. I also found that by admitting your mistakes you give others permission to do the same.
I still fail a lot when it comes to self love. Just when I think I have it, something or someone will show me just how far I have to go. But at the end of the day self love is really just a commitment to yourself. It’s faith that everything will work out once you follow this path, no matter the sacrifices you must make. The more you choose you, the more you set yourself free, and this is where the true mystical journey of life starts. It’s never too late to turn in towards the darkness, and see that it is light.
Perhaps the greatest opponent to self love is judgement. Judgement stifles. Judgement is the tyrant that suppresses the heart and divides the people. It is the voice that fuels internal conflict and holds us back. Judgement is really just fear. Perhaps we judge harshest those who are most free, like drag queens, because they scare the shit out of us by making us realise just how trapped we really are. So perhaps fear is the true epidemic. Alas, there is hope.
The cure is your mind.
“If you want to change the world, start with yourself." - Mohandas Gandhi.