Hey do you know what I’m loving most about coming back to this work after 5 years of loss and grief?
I love being able to use headings like that and genuinely (finally), do not care who might feel the urge to judge me for it. Their bad if they decided to click on and read! This girl has done some years of hard work and I have nothing to hide about who I am – because if I tell you you are worthy of being exactly who you are, warts and all, I’m worthy of the same. If anything about the way I think, speak or write bothers another, they can choose not to connect, as I do when I don’t resonate with someone.
When I wrote the first version of Permission to Dance and Permission to Practice almost 20 years ago, I knew what I was writing worked because I had so much evidence through my clients. I knew it was changing lives and I was happy about that. But at the time I was still in an emotionally abusive relationship and using every word in those books to hold onto my own identity.
At the time I was not yet able to show the fullness of my inner playful rebel because my subconscious beliefs, reaffirmed by my ex, told me I would not be respected for my knowledge if I presented as a… sometimes irreverent, less than saintly, sometimes emotional, sometimes unhappy, very often playful, usually cheeky human being.
No matter how knowledgeable and skilled I was, my own programming, (blended with a perfect dose of his gaslighting) would reaffirm to me – I would not be accepted just as I was.
I look at that now and I laugh. Every writer, teacher, actor, musician, friend, or mentor I’ve ever been attracted to is so perfectly different and usually going against the ‘norm’ in some way – but most important to me has always been, I love people who are beautifully and naturally and apologetically, themselves.
P!nk, Gaga, Streep – these people have lived lives so full, complicated and no doubt in the process, taken way too much shit from people who are less caring, gifted, committed, sensitive, kind, or POWERFUL – they have learned not to give a flying crap if you or I like, hate or love them. And doesn’t that make us naturally respect them even more?
I say they learned not to care because I know both Gaga and P!nk have shared their own struggles, and some of the hurt they have felt about unfair criticisms in the past, but they’ve put on their big girl pants and decided nobody is as responsible for being kind to them as themselves. Nobody can do it for us! And I would put a wager on it that they’re both still a work in progress just like the rest of us mere mortals.
Getting brave with our beautiful mistakes is just part of the gig that is life. Our humanness is who we are, and what we have to love; fighting it is unnecessarily exhausting. I say this like it’s easy. Trust me I know for some of us it is not. Loving myself without judgement is an ongoing process – and working in the field of personal development I used to be embarrassed by that. Now I know it is the common thread with most who are passionate about helping others. helps me as much as my readers and clients. I used to feel embarrassed by that, but then I loved myself a little more, and I became proud of my choice to help others instead of criticizing myself for needing to walk my own talk.
I discovered people appreciate my humanness and the ability I have to empathize not criticize.
On the road to not giving a crap about other’s opinions about who you are, I’ve learned there seem to be stages of embrace which occur – and then they start overlapping.
- self acceptance
- self appreciation
Self Acceptance is the stage where the focus is on the perception of what’s ‘wrong’ with you. But in the name of your commitment to trying to love yourself, you start to accept that mistakes will be made from time to time, maybe you over analyze, judge (probably nobody as harshly as you judge yourself), you might think you’re too much of one thing and not enough of the other…but on this road to self-love, you are committed to the task, so you learn to ‘accept’. You ‘try’ to love yourself in spite of your so called human.
2. Self Appreciation is when you realize some of that trying is paying off. You have genuine moments of appreciating those efforts and seeing something just might be shifting! As things shift, you start to see maybe there are some things about yourself worthy of focusing on which are not what you perceived as ‘too much, not enough’. You begin to focus a little more often on what’s not so wrong with you, in fact maybe there’s a bit there that’s actually pretty damn okay! Appreciation is also about the ability to witness the self rather than being in your own head all the time. Standing back and seeing the effort, the goodness and so on. When we start to witness ourselves the good stuff is beginning.
3. Self-Celebration is when you’re getting to the really good times. A little self-high-five starts creeping in here and there. Appreciation turns to celebration, feeling proud of yourself for the work you’re doing and the changes you can now see in how you feel about yourself and the world around you. You know that nobody but you did that, nobody could. And you did! It feels amazing having shifted from self-criticism to where you are now and it changes how others are reacting to you. There’s no denying it by this stage – you’ve witnessed the change in how people are treating you, the new opportunities coming your way, the feeling of success is undeniable now. Your have too much proof that by changing your own perception of yourself, others have also.
Some people will now be leaving your life. Sorry I had to tell the truth about that part. We’ll do more of that another day, but enough to say when we dislike ourselves, we will inevitably surrounding ourselves with people who will affirm our reality – which is that we are not worthy of love and respect. Those suckers gotta go. And it will happen quite organically. By this stage, you know you can handle it, and you know it will just be one more event you will celebrate, because it means you are well on your way to knowing what it feels like to absolutely love who you are….
4. Which brings us here! Self-Love. How good does it feel right??!!
By now you’ve witnessed your courage, strength, determination, and willingness to do what it takes to get here, and you’re damn proud of your efforts. You realize you finally don’t give a flying crap if I like you because you’ve learned if anyone is worthy of love, kindness, respect it is you. Look how far you’ve come – and nobody but you could do it for you.
You’ve braved the work – and you’re very likely still braving it because there is plenty of material out there telling all of use we suck in some way! If you add to that being someone who may not have had whatever it is you needed in order to know you were made perfectly for your role on life’s stage, it’s a gradual process. Most people in some way are asking themselves if they are enough. By this stage, you know you’re far from on your own with this process of self-love.
You’ve let go of the internal voices which lied to you about being unworthy or unlovable. You’ve let go of the people and the stories that fueled those inner voices but you are aware you have to remain conscious of the old old habits and unhealthy attractions, so you take care of yourself.
For those who are enjoying Stage 4 Self Love – I am so happy for you!! For the rest, I’m so happy for you!!
Thanks for reading. If you relate to any of these words, don’t be shy…when you share your stories, it makes a difference to others, and it’s another step in not giving a flying crap if we like you, hate you, or love you to bits. I for one can promise I’ll be grateful to hear from you.