I am excited to share yet another wonderful Facebook post from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert. I love how real she is. I love that she is, and has been, so willing to share her life struggles with the world.
Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone in your thoughts of self-doubt make learning how to practice self-love a little easier. After all, we all just really want the same things. To live in peace with the love and the light that is apart of every single living organism on this planet.
But more times than not we don’t allow this light to shine in our hearts, which makes it harder to share with each other. We keep our true selves, the people we really want to be, locked away in the deep, dark parts of our souls. Too afraid to get hurt; to come out into the light and just be. We focus too much on what others will think of us instead of just living in our own special ways. We focus on possible failures instead of new opportunities. And the lists go on and on.
I know I am guilty of these things and more. But as more time goes by, I have come to realize that life is too short to have worry and self-doubt. Little by little I have been practicing my own self-love and I have noticed differences in my life because of it. Positive differences. The changes that I have made in myself have been small at times, but feel like huge weights being lifted from my shoulders. I know I am becoming a better version of myself everyday. And reading things like Liz’s posts, just makes me want to dig even deeper into the endless pool of self-love and acceptance.
“Dear Ones –
Shall we begin?
I’ve been going through a lot of big life transformations lately — moving through divorce, and loss, and the terrifying illnesses of loved ones, and outrageous upheavals of emotion — and none of it is easy.
Sometimes our transformations bring out the best in us, and sometimes they do not. When the ground breaks open because of an earthquake, you can be certain that everything — absolutely EVERYTHING — will be upturned, unearthed, or cracked open.
When you get cracked open, you will not always love what you discover about yourself. You wish you were a better person (whatever that means.) You wish you had handled this or that crisis with more grace. You wish you were stronger. You wish you were more certain about things. You wish you could go back and have that conversation all over again, and do it more wisely. You wish you were more forgiving. You wish you were more honest. You wish you were less judgmental. You wish you were less emotional. You wish you had figured things out sooner, or better, or smarter. Sometimes, you must face the truth that you have caused pain to yourself. Sometimes you have caused pain to others.
In short: You wish you were different. And wishing that you were different always, always, always hurts.
This is all very natural.
But we can choose in these difficult moments of self-doubt and regret and confusion whether or not we are going to hate ourselves for any of it…or whether we are going to practice self-love.
This is important.
The parts of yourself that you do not love are terribly vital, because they demand that you dig deep — deeper than you ever thought you would have to dig — in order to summon compassion and forgiveness for the struggling human being whom you are.
And until you learn to treat the struggling human being whom you are with a modicum of empathy, tenderness, and love, you will never be able to love anyone or anything with the fullness of your heart…and that would be a great shame. Because this is what we all want, isn’t it? This is what we came here for, right? To learn how to love each other with the fullness of our hearts?
Please know this: Whenever you withhold love from yourself, you are withholding love from the world…period.
We really need you to stop doing that.
The world has enough problems, without you withholding any more love.
Please understand that these difficult parts of yourself (the shameful parts, the regretful parts, and those episodes of your biography that are so spiky and troublesome and contradictory and embarrassing that you simply don’t know what to do with them)…please understand that these difficult parts of yourself are your ultimate teachers in compassion. Those parts of yourself are where you must begin learning how to love.
You guys? This is not a simple or straightforward moment in my life right now. There is a lot to sort through. There are a lot of parts of myself that I must examine now with unflinching honesty, if I am to grow.
I am willing to practice self-honesty. I believe in it, fully.
BUT SELF-HONESTY WITHOUT SELF-LOVE IS NOTHING BUT SELF-ABUSE.
And here is what I am finding, as I age: I simply do not have the stamina for self-abuse anymore. Just can’t do it anymore. I dip into it sometimes for a moment or two, but I can’t stay there — my heart just isn’t in it anymore. I used to be so good at self-hatred and shame! I could attack myself for YEARS — drowning in an endless wave of self-criticism. But I’m out of shape these days, when it comes to self-hatred. I’ve lost that special kind of emotional endurance which is required for nonstop self-degradation and attack. I can’t do that to anyone else, and I can’t do it to myself, either. Too much practice in empathy and too many years of tenderness have ruined my chances to collapse ever again into the job of full-time shame.
I have loved all the hatred for myself out of myself.
(Well. Mostly, anyhow.)
And so now, when I suffer and struggle, I ask myself, “What part of you is hurting, Liz, and how we can love it — even as you are hurting?”
We must begin there — with the parts that we do not love.
This doesn’t mean being complacent. This doesn’t mean living in denial. This doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying to grow and transform. This doesn’t mean that I am excused from being self-accountable. This doesn’t mean burying my head in the sand, or telling myself lies. It just means: There is no part of myself anymore that I do not believe is deserving of love.
And that’s good news.
Because the only way I’m ever going to learn how to love any of you beautiful freaks — by which I mean all 7 billion of you gorgeous, unpredictable, troubled, weird, contradictory, struggling, devastatingly inspiring, broken, and perfect humans with whom I share this difficult planet — is if I can learn how to love my own freaky-ass self, too.
If I can accept me, Dear Ones, I can accept anyone.
So this is where we shall begin.
Be good to yourselves, my loves — today, and all days.
It’s all gonna be OK.