Reflections on self-love
I was reading some Esther Perel this week, and happened upon a quote about self-love that really spoke to me. She describes it as “about letting others love us even when we feel unloveable” and as “about awareness and acceptance of our incompleteness.”
I sense it’s natural at times to feel unloveable, and incomplete. We each have foibles, wrinkles and bumps we might prefer not to notice or acknowledge, and yet, when we turn away from them they somehow gain a power and impact our sense of ourself more deeply.
It can perhaps be easier to love others in our life in their vulnerability, in their shade as well as their light, oftentimes we are harsher judges of ourselves than we are of them. Noticing this within yourself, and then choosing to do something different is key to emotional health.
Amongst others, Esther Perel posed these three questions that you might ask yourself when reflecting on self-love, and yourself in relationship:
Can I take responsibility without blaming myself?
Can I accept help from another without assuming they want something from me?
Can I accept that I will be OK even if someone who hurt me (e.g. a parent, child, former partner, friend) never acknowledges the pain they caused?
For me, these questions illuminate our ability to be interdependent without being dependent. They probe whether we can support ourselves while being honest about our short-comings and errors. They ask whether we can own that we are worthy of help just because we are. They illuminate our ability to heal from hurt within ourselves without needing the other to make reparation.
Self love is a very active process, it’s a way of being. It’s not all sunshine and fluff, it’s often gritty and difficult, just like loving the deeply flawed and very love-worthy and loveable people we find all around us. Self-love is about honesty and insight, and about doing the work that’s needed, on the inside, to heal what we find.