Every so often I notice my blogposts take on a certain theme; they'll build off of each other. Lately I've been talking about self-care and treating myself the way I treat others. While listening to an interview with Christine Arylo I realized all of these separate pieces come under the umbrella of self-love. See, I used to think self-love meant looking in the mirror and saying, "I love you." But I have to tell you, even after years of doing so I haven't noticed much difference. I mean, there are some subtle changes in how I view myself but I still don't feel as if I love myself fully. When I heard Christine's interview the penny finally dropped.
Christine says self-love is about more than affirmations. In fact, there are 10 branches of self-love: self-acceptance, self-care, self-trust, self-awareness, self-compassion and forgiveness, self-empowerment, self-honor and respect, self-esteem, self-expression, and self-pleasure. Like branches of a tree, these parts of self-love feed into self-worth, the root of self-love. Here, I'll show you a nifty picture she drew:
After hearing all of this, it made sense why I've felt as if I'm missing something. My self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-expression branches have been massive. Believing I can accomplish anything I set my mind to? Check. Having knowledge of who I am and what I'm good at? Check. Self-expressive? Double check. The others though? Not so much. I can't really profess that I love myself until I take equal care of all those self-love branches.
Why am I dithering on about self-love? I operate under the belief the outside world is a reflection of my internal one. The more I love myself the more loving people show up in my life. The more I take care of myself the more I can take care of others. Self-love may seem selfish (and Christine addresses that in her book Madly in Love with Me) but honestly, how on Earth are we supposed to love other people if we don't even know what it means to love ourselves? How can I show up for other people if I can't fully show up for myself?
This topic of self-love has become so important to me in the past few years because as I get older I realize no one will be able to love me the way I want to be loved. The amount of love I want is infinite and no finite human being will be able to give that to me. I'm not even sure I can give that to me but I'm much more suited to it than anyone else. Also, I have to be honest here — people drift in and out of my life. No one is with me all the time except for me, so really, the only love I can depend on 100% of the time is the love I have for myself and the love the universe has for me. And really, why would I want to put such an essential and basic human need solely in the hands of someone else? I'd much rather balance loving myself and having others love me. I can't get all the love I need from other people nor can I get all the love I need from myself.
If this blogpost sounds like a ringing endorsement of Christine's book, it is. She has practical tips and activities for how we can love ourselves more. I enjoy how in depth her book is because the stuff I've been doing only works to a degree. I don't want a degree, I want the whole shebang. So in reference to the title of this post, what's love got to do with it? Everything.
I dream of a world where we all love ourselves fully. A world where we understand to love ourselves is to love others. A world where we fill up our self-love cup and allow it to run over. A world where we water every branch of the self-love tree. A world where we show up for ourselves because we deserve it.
Another world is not only possible, it's probable.
Thanks for sharing this Rebekah! I had heard her mention the 10 branches in an interview a couple of months ago, but I didn't do further investigation into what they actually were — and I meant to, so thank you!
It is a gift that she has come out and explained the depth and complexity of self-love. Like you, I was thinking it was one basic thing of… well, just saying you love yourself. Or maybe having self-esteem. But it's so much bigger and that makes so much sense.
Thanks for opening up about your journey with it and for posting about this book. It's definitely going on my "wish list" of next books to purchase. 🙂
=) You are welcome!
I feel as if my tree is wilted beyond all hope but I know that is just my ego playing games. Your post was very inspiring. I look forward to checking out that book, but until then I will look toward the drawing you included as a reminder on what branches need to be tended to. Thanks so much for a lovely post!
Lol. Awww. But remember, wilted isn’t dead! 😉 Also, Christine has a weekly “love” letter that offers tips and suggestions for increasing self-love in case you want to check it out.
Self-love takes work. I have been quite the pathetic follower in my time, gotten into some troubles I don't care to repeat, and had some fun that it would be immoral to gloat about. So much of it stemmed from lack of self-respect. Guilt, regret, and shame are powerful self-destructive weapons.
I'm over the hill and happier in public, but in private there are still parts of me plagued with insecurity, driving me toward bad habits.
However, where I am at now is lightyears of improvement from where I used to be. It took steering away from people who were using me to finally find out who I could be without them. I can be a winner, and I can succeed in the goals I aim for. But as you said, self-awareness and self-determination aren't the only means of finding love in oneself.
I don't know how to love myself completely, nor how to tell anyone else how to do it. The only thing I can say is it's always good to give and be helpful to those in need, and I think that offers a kind of love that the universe is in short supply. As for yourself, sometimes the healthiest solution is to just not take yourself too seriously. Let the questions, desires, hopes, and all self-interested or self-involved thoughts fade away into the black. Recognize yourself as nothing more than a self-conscious blob of energy. What makes your personal concerns have any greater weight than those of a rock, or a grain of sand? That you are self-aware makes you special only to you, but a self-aware rock isn't special to anyone and is just as happy/miserable as any human.
Sometimes, when the lingering self-hatred, or even swelling self-love (not often) overcome me, I just start thinking of something stupid, or silly, and feel enormously better. Of course, human contact is preferred, but these are a single dude's thoughts.
Now you have to pay the toll. A toll is a toll, and a roll is a roll. You don't pay the toll, we don't get no rolls. I made that up meself.