“I know, I know, I’m supposed to love myself,” a client says to me. “Find more self-love and self-trust. But in truth, I just want more than anything to find deep connection with a partner. All of me aches for it.”
Can you relate? I hear this from some of my male clients.
Felix pauses. He looks me over. His eyes are saying – So, what do I do about this?
When he actually says this, I respond, “Why do you think you’re supposed to love yourself?”
“Because it makes perfect sense. I know it, in my gut, from years of relationships. Her love can’t compensate for the love I don’t have for myself.”
Knowledge without mastery is like a key without a door. Felix is frustrated.
“I mean at first, it’s great and all. I feel completely full with her. And then as time passes… anyway, you know the story… the same old me creeps back in. The one who’s discontent, finding faults in her, frustrated that she starts taking me for granted, not seeing me the way she once did, etcetera, etcetera. I’m addicted to the first part of things, you know, the rush, and then… it’s always the same.”
“So you ache for something you’ve never been able to attain,” I say.
The moment is thick with tragic irony. He laughs. I laugh. For a splinter of time, it’s not so heart-numbingly excruciating. Laughter gives him distance.
“What if you took the passion and energy of that ‘Fuck Yes!’ and brought it back to yourself?”
He ponders this. I give him a chance to sink deeper into the question. I sense he knows how to do it – bring the energy back to himself.
He closes his eyes. A minute passes, then another. He speaks.
“I’ve been checking out from myself for years for a dream I don’t even believe in. The dream of The One. I do it because I’m lazy. I don’t want to do the work to love myself. Why should I? I don’t even know if I like myself.”
BAM! I let the gravity of his last statement land. Will he stay in self-pity or move himself forward? A few minutes pass. He’s frozen.
“So you don’t know if you like yourself,” I say.
He doesn’t respond. It would be easy to ask why and get all the details of his self-loathing, but for now, I’m more interested in the effect of it.
“You know as well as I do, that if you don’t like yourself…”
“I know. I know… how is someone else supposed to like or love me?” He becomes visibly angry, short tempered.
“God damn it.”
He buries his face in his thick-palmed hands. He begins breathing deeply, sighing, emitting sounds of anguish. He’s working himself hard.
After some time, I say, “Do you see the inner war going on within you?”
He looks up, eyes glassy, face flushed.
“Felix, you know the failings of relationship as you’ve pursued it in the past. You know that nobody can love you enough to compensate for you not loving yourself. You said it. Not me. And yet, you live in a reality where you consistently tell yourself that you should love yourself when in fact, you…”
“… hate myself.” He completes the sentence before I can.
And with this knowledge comes a peace, a reprieve, the truth. I see relief on his face. He’s no longer hiding behind the false mandate of how he should love himself.
Felix’s problem is not about self-love. It’s about pulling the plug on the internal war inside of him. It’s about accepting his self-loathing and moving forward from there. Asking himself – Is this how I want to live my life?
While, for sure, there’d be deeper work to understand where his loathing came from, for now it’s about seeing clearly the playing field of his internal system and working from there.
The unwinding of self-loathing is a much deeper practice than merely loving one’s self.
Will he do the work? Even more importantly, if you can relate, will you?
Find a guide, mentor, coach or therapist who will help you cut through your blind spots. The cost is too great to wait.
This post was previously published on Stuartmotola.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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