Bryan Reeves explores what it really means to love yourself everyday.
I still say “yes” when I deeply want to say “no” (and vice versa)…and then resent others/life for my choices.
I still walk paths and make choices that feel heavy because logic says this will get me the validation, respect, affection, admiration, love that I want … which is mostly always wrong.
I am routinely tempted to sacrifice my heart’s deepest longings for shallower ego comforts of money or a moment of physical affection … which often leaves me with an emptiness hangover.
Probably like you, I’ve been taught that peace, fulfillment, affection, validation, love, etc. comes from the world around me, and to get it I must dance like a monkey on a chain crashing cute little cymbals together for crackers.
Sure, I get my crackers, dancing like a monkey for others’ pleasure.
But I’m tired of crackers!
Where’s the feast?
Where’s that experience of everyday joy, an ongoing thrill for living, a happiness that Benedictine Monk, David Steindl-Rast, described as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens”?
I know awful things will happen sometimes. I don’t expect to be blissfully happy all the time or an intimate partner to always stay with me or to always have “enough money” in my bank account (whatever “enough” would even be).
I just don’t want to be dependent anymore on this absolutely unstable, ever-changing world around me for my psychological well-being.
No more dancing for crackers to sustain the illusion of control and sanity!
I’m ready for the feast!
And I’m finding it in the hardest lesson of all: self-love.
What is self-love?
Self-love is about giving myself the medicine my body, mind, heart and soul needs in any and every moment.
I don’t mean merely indulging in the modern drugs of choice that mostly serve to distract from human angst, like work and making money, TV, alcohol, shopping, even sex.
Rather, self-love is about loving and honoring my deeper truths, my deepest longings, so completely that I am not willing to move into any experience that feels heavy, regardless what my scarcity-minded, fear-filled ego-brain tells me about it.
It means saying yes when I know my entire being would delight in saying yes, and saying no when I know saying yes will likely lead me down a false path deeper into the darkness of inauthenticity and charade.
Throughout my life, when I’ve felt compelled to move further down some path into darkness—further into heaviness—it always turned out that I needed to learn something massive for my personal evolution.
After all, suffering is a great teacher!
It’s a powerful way to know what I want by experiencing what I do not want!
But I’m done suffering intentionally for the sake of personal growth. I’m done working to get some outside thing, person or experience to validate and love me in ways that just never fully assuage my underlying angst, anyway … not for long, anyway!
So my current practice is self-love.
I am discovering that giving myself love everyday, regardless where doing so takes me or what tangible things it gets me, is the quickest way towards simply loving my life every single day.
It’s perhaps the hardest practice—and often the most terrifying, too, for it threatens everything I’ve been taught about getting love and acceptance from the outside world.
But I ache for the feast.
My moment-to-moment practice is to honor what is deeply true for me by speaking / walking / living / breathing / fully surrendering to that deeper knowing without necessarily knowing “why” it’s true or “what” it will get me.
Doing so magically led me this summer to a beautiful cabin in southern Idaho where I’m right now finishing my second book. I live in Los Angeles, and I had no idea this gorgeous quiet retreat location even existed until I started listening to that deep longing that simply said, “Get out of LA for the summer. Finish your book. Go north. It will work out magically.”
Sometimes this practice just means closing the gap between the moment I sell myself out and the moment I adjust by coming back home to myself.
It used to take years, doing work I didn’t love, staying in relationships I didn’t really want to be in. I refuse to subject myself to unnecessary suffering that long anymore. Now closing that gap is down to hours and days, or weeks at most.
That’s why self-love is an intentional, conscious practice, because I still sometimes choose unnecessary suffering for a time while I’m working through some lesson I haven’t quite got yet. My last relationship ended only a few weeks after I knew it had to, which is better than the years I used to spend letting go of what I knew didn’t work. But I had something important to learn in those extra weeks. And learn it I did! (“Why Every Couple Should Break Up“)
A big part of this self-love practice is also not making others (life) dance like a subservient monkey to please, validate, or take care of me, either.
There’s another name for practicing self-love everyday:
—Download “The Thriving Woman Experience” – a 6-hour Audio Program by Bryan Reeves & Kristina Italic, created to help modern women truly thrive in relationships, business, love and more.
—Photo by Syahmir/Flickr