*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!
Over the years, people have cautioned me to not be so serious, to lighten up, and to just love myself.
I wondered if something was wrong with me. “Hmm, maybe I should try to be more like them. Maybe then I’d be able to love myself,” I thought.
But self-love is easier said than done. Contrary to what the new agers say, you can’t “just love yourself.”
The same people who often preach compassion and self-love are also the same people judging the shit out of Donald Trump, who is merely representing a disowned part of them.
Loving yourself is not that easy. Trust me.
I meditated for five straight years. I tried pretty damn hard to get enlightened and love myself. I actually believed I could get to a state of total self-acceptance.
Yes, I had many amazing sits that helped me embrace more of my experience.
Yes, I finally learned how to sit with strong emotions.
Yes, I finally could watch how insane my mind was and how much it was like a runaway train.
Yes, I got more in my body.
Yes, I learned how to just be with my emotional and sensory experience.
All very helpful.
But meditating all day like I did, didn’t help me feel less insecure about my finances. Meditating all day didn’t address all my relationship issues either.
In fact, at a certain point meditation became a way to avoid my problems, because I got to the place where meditation felt good and my life felt overwhelming.
But I have some great news for anyone like I was who thinks they can reach the fantasy of total self-love: It can’t be done.
Show me the person who claims self-love, I’ll move in with them, and within a couple of years, but more likely a couple of months, I’ll show you where they are falling short of self-love.
And, an intimate relationship is the very place where we can see exactly where we are not loving ourselves.
And the good news is this: The closest person to you in your life—like a partner or a parent—will show you exactly where you are not loving yourself.
Thankfully for me, during my hardcore meditation days, I got married and my wife’s “way” kept triggering old, unfinished business in me. The harder I tried to meditate and be calm, the more my issues stayed the same or got louder. To make a long story short, I eventually figured out that relationship was much faster and much more accurate way to get at my neurosis and embrace it.
I also figured out, with my wife’s help, the very issues that she was triggering in me, were pointing me to the exact area where I needed to embrace or “love” more of me.
Sure, I could take it to the cushion, do tonglen for her inner child, or try to just have compassion for myself, but it was all way too vague and did little to truly resolve anything inside.
And as a former psychotherapist and now relationship specialist, I have worked with hundreds of people trying to “just be happy” or just love themselves.
It’s almost an epidemic.
But loving ourselves is simply about embracing what is disowned and projected outward.
So, next time you get your hate on with Trump, Hillary, or even the big mean corporations, try it on that you are merely projecting your disowned parts onto those people. “Those idiots” are just trying to help you embrace more of your inner idiot inside.
Hate fear mongers? We’re hating that part of us that is buried inside.
And, here’s the cool part—owning more of me, gives me more bandwidth in my interpersonal relationships, and specifically with my intimate partner, who is by far, the hardest person to love over time.
If we demonstrate that we can love someone over many years, we are demonstrating our ability to embrace more and more of ourselves over time. It is through relationship then, that we learn to love that part of us we are in opposition to.
So, the fastest way to love yourself is to pick your worst enemy or perhaps your intimate partner, parent, or a challenging co-worker and see how they are reflecting back your own shit that you have yet to love inside yourself.
Then, get to work and embrace that beast inside. He or she will thank you as their fangs turn into butter from which you can rub all over your beautiful body and then, and only then, my friend, you will get the pleasure you seek. And, the best part will be that you earned it. You worked hard for that feeling.
Enjoy it until the next monster comes along in five days or five hours to trigger you into your judgmental hatred.
So relax into the fact that this is not a destination. It is a process, embracing one part at a time, day by day, year by year through this powerful vehicle called relationship.
Author: Jayson Gaddis
Editor: Katarina Tavčar