We talk about self-love quite a bit ‘round these parts. My last few months here at Stratejoy have been rife with trying out new rituals for being more present in my life, sitting in cafes working on the Fierce Love course, and commenting on my wonderful fellow bloggers’ posts telling them how absolutely IN AWE I AM of their newfound self-love.
If you had asked me earlier what I expected to get out of all this exploration, I probably would have said, “Confidence? Being a little nicer to myself? Uhh…some other stuff, maybe?”
What I never realized is how much a few months dedicated to self-love could really result in a huge bump in my other-people-love. Struggling to embrace my own flaws has made me so much more cognizant of all the negative projecting and [insert other psychology term here]ing that I’ve been doing with regard to everyone else.
Learning to be a little bit kinder to myself has made me see just how unkind I’ve been to others – not to their faces, necessarily, but in my own head. I have a tendency to assign motivations without knowing the full story and otherwise just think the worst.
I’m not even referring to silly situations, like silently judging the woman walking down the street for wearing some kind of hideous/tacky/revealing outfit (I still do this, but I’m trying reallllly hard to stop). But even when it comes to my own friends, I’ll think, “This person just wants attention,” or, “That person doesn’t care about anyone but herself.”
No one can look objectively into his or her own life and I’m certainly no exception, but I have a strong feeling that all the ugly motivations I’m attributing to others are manifestations of my own insecurities. Maybe I’m just jealous that someone is getting more attention than I am, or maybe someone wrote that Facebook post because they’re happy, not because they’re trying to boast and shove something in everyone else’s faces.
When Sarah wrote her post about radical acceptance, she mentioned how we’re often so much harsher with ourselves than we are with others. And it’s completely true. I often beat myself up over the fact that I’m going on 7 months of being unemployed, despite the fact that I’m trying REALLY FUCKING HARD to get a job. But if I saw a friend down in the dumps over the same thing? I would be as reassuring as possible, reminding her that the job market sucks and it’s not a function of her inadequacy.
It’s so strange, then, that I can have so much compassion for my close friends in some circumstances, but lack that same compassion in others.
But this is all changing, slowly but surely.
The process of accepting my flaws hasn’t so much made me accept the flaws in others as it has made me realize that sometimes those flaws don’t even exist. Opening myself up to that vulnerability thing I keep talking about and embracing who I am, imperfections and all, has made me be more open towards others as well.
And you know what? People have surprised me. Not in a way that means they were acting out of character, but in a way that made me realize that the people I know and love have kind of always been even more awesome than I thought they were.
Like when I assumed one friend wouldn’t be receptive to listening to me vent about a problem I was having. But instead, she was not only supportive, but insanely helpful. And afterwards I wondered why I ever doubted her in the first place.
There have been countless examples like this over the last few months.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over my time blogging for Stratejoy (which you’ll hear about in a few short weeks because our time here is almost over and NO PLEASE DO NOT MAKE IT END ACK CUE PANIC FREAKOUT SADNESS), but this has definitely been one of the best. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by the interplay between self-love and love for others, seeing as, you know, we interact with others throughout most of our daily lives, but somehow it caught me off guard.
I always expected – or at least hoped – that I would come away from this time in my life with a new appreciation for the things that make me ME. You know, like the weird way I eat Lucky Charms or the fact that I sometimes like to listen to the Jock Jams Megamix while working out (remember that, 1995?). But I’ve also gained a new appreciation for others, because I’ve been able to see that if I withhold my judgments, especially the pre-judgments, people can be so much more amazing than I thought they were.
So from now on, I’m going to focus on looking at others as I want them to look at me – free of judgment, open to whatever awesomeness they have to offer the world.
The self-love has kind of turned into everyone-love. And I’m totally infatuated.
Photo credit: kk+