I'm not sure I love this photograph of me yet, depicting new haircut and distorting eyeglasses.
Which brings me to our topic du jour, resolving to love oneself...which to me seems a pointless endeavor.
I used to be one of those people who resolved every year to change myself...always failed...and always ended up beating myself even more. In other words, I wasn't merely fat, broke, single, squinty-eyed, etc.; I was also a hopeless failure at keeping my word!
I was using New Year's resolutions as a motivator. It looked something like this: "Change, and then you can have the life you want. Only then, after you have changed, do you have permission to love yourself." Today, it seems silly to wait for happiness and self-love until all my ducks are in a row. Now that the pressure is off, I notice I'm pretty happy most of the time, whatever is happening.
It's very easy to say "love thyself," and not so easy to put it into practice. I've come to see that I can't force self-love any more than I can stick to a resolution to change myself. Try making yourself love what you don't love! "Oh, what beautiful thunder-thighs!" "I accept and love my learning disability." "Hello, unemployment, I love you!" It doesn't work; affirmations never fooled anyone in their unquestioned, "I know" mind.
What I can do, and what I have done for many years, is question the beliefs that stand between me and self-love. "I don't have a husband; it must mean I'm not lovable or attractive." "I haven't progressed in my career as much as So-and-So has." "I'm too old to start a new career." "My body is too flabby." "I need to make more money." "I should be further along in life than I am." "I don't deserve happiness." "Everything I touch turns to mud." "I'm not good enough." "I should have been more careful."
When you hold self-hating thoughts up to the light of inquiry—that is, when you question the validity of what you are thinking, examine how you live your life out of these beliefs, notice how you would feel if you didn't think these thoughts and see if their opposites are as true or truer—you call the punishing mind's bluff. Eventually, you don't have to resolve to love yourself; you just do.
©2009 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.