“Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.” Alexander Smith
Part of the work of loving ourselves means learning to love ALL of ourselves. The beautiful parts, the resilient parts, the fun parts and yes, the ugly parts…the parts of that us that make us feel anxious and unworthy… the parts we try to hide from ourselves and the world.
Other People are a Mirror and That is Their Gift
When the world is reflecting back to me that parts that I already love and accept about myself, I might not even give a second thought to it. But when it reflects back to me a part of myself that I am ashamed about or don’t like, its not until I see that thing in me till I can come to peace with it. It’s not until I can say “that is also me” that I can move on. If I am frustrated with someone for being defensive and controlling, then I must also be defensive and controlling. If I am irritated with the asshole at the post office for not wearing his mask right, I must also be careless in some way. Other people are always showing us how we are out of balance with ourselves.
Something I am also learning is that when I think I am in love with someone or someone has inspired me or made me excited (which is easy to do lol), it is because that thing I am drawn to or find attractive about them, is inside of me too. I am realizing that it is maybe not that person or thing I am in love with, it is the projection of me falling in love with that part of myself. They are showing me parts of myself that are yet to be discovered and worth being curious about and enthralled with! And, even if that person or thing is not in my life anymore, what a gift to have been shown that.
Inspiration Grows With You
I am also finding that what I am inspired by constantly changes depending where I am in my life and what part of myself I am learning about. Right now I am working on embracing the parts of myself that are fiery, passionate and intense so I admire artists like Frida Kahlo and poets like Pablo Neruda. I also want to embrace the parts of myself that are messy, real and vulnerable, so I am attracted to writers like Brene Brown, Liz Gilbert or Glennon Doyle or kick ass creators like Issa Rae. I want to love my body and the feminine goddess inside of me so I am drawn to art and images of curvy and powerful female bodies…especially pin-ups and boudoir photos!
What We Don’t Understand We Reject
This is also interesting to me, because there was a time when I was younger, that I didn’t understand some of these parts of myself so I rejected them. My mom had always been beautiful, passionate and artistic, she was also messy and at times vain and self-absorbed (all things I can totally see in myself now btw). At the time, I did everything I could to not be like her. I favored my dad’s steadiness, optimism and humor. That felt comfortable, that felt…normal. I’d always desperately wanted to embrace normal. My mom made me feel uncomfortable and exhausted. My dad was likable and easy to figure out, my mom was a complex unpredictable maze I could never understand.
It wasn’t until after my divorce and me making loving myself fully and self-care a priority in my own life that I started to embrace this part of myself that has always been there…this tiny flame waiting patiently for me. I am realizing passionate isn’t crazy, passionate is beautiful. Being intense is a gift and means I have a lot to give! It only makes people who don’t understand or embrace that part of themselves uncomfortable. So how wild it is, that somehow in me learning to fall in love with those parts of myself, also inadvertently taught me how to love and accept my mother in a way I wasn’t able to before.
What You Reject Might Be the Key to Your Freedom
So maybe the parts of us that are the hardest to love are the parts that are most worth doing the work for. Maybe the person we reject the most ends up being the missing key to unlocking these amazing and powerful parts of ourselves we couldn’t create space for before.
And just maybe, when we realize its all just reflections, we can start to put our mirrors down and see people for who they really are. Maybe we can start to see ourselves without judgement and love ourselves for who we really are…our glorious, imperfect, wonderful selves.
Happy Valentines Day my friends, every part of you is worth being seen and loved. ❤
PS. I also do want to be clear, do not force yourself to see things until you are ready! Things that involve pain, disappointment, abandonment and abuse take time and support. It’s taken me 40 years to get where I am and sometimes I still feel like I am at the beginning! So wrap whatever that thing is up in a beautiful box, with a beautiful ribbon and mentally put a card on it that says “don’t open till your heart says you are ready” and when you do open it, I hope that you don’t do it alone and that whatever the lesson is or was brings you peace and grace.