I think I’ll be working on self-love for the rest of my life. It seems to be a core wound that keeps coming back around for more reflection and healing. From my work with hundreds of clients over the past fifteen years, I’ve seen self-love and acceptance show up over and over again as a core issue for them as well.
What makes self-love so incredibly hard?
I mean real self-love, not an ego-based self-obsession, that in its extreme we call narcissism, but true love of oneself—warts and all, as they say.
A book I read almost twenty years ago profoundly shifted my understanding of my struggle with self-acceptance and helped me embrace my own core wound of never feeling good enough, a wound that many of us struggle with. In Mark Epstein’s book Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective, he says that “we are aware of vague and disturbing feelings of emptiness, inauthenticity and alienation, and we have some sense of the lack of acknowledgment, attention, or recognition…that might lie behind these disturbing feelings.” Basically, he is saying that we are fundamentally unsure of who we are or our innate value.
He goes on to say that this core wound comes from not being fully seen by our primary caregivers, which in most cases are our parents. This comes from their own core wounds of not being totally recognized and celebrated for who they are by their parents.
So goes on the trans-generational pattern of not being affirmed at a very young age of who we authentically are.
Even with the best of intentions, our caregivers molded us into who they thought we should be, unconsciously creating a fundamental internal split between who we truly are and who we were reinforced to be. This split creates the doubt in our innate worthiness, setting us up for the core belief of not being good enough, which Epstein refers to in his book..
The feeling that we are not good enough locks us in to continually seeking the external validation of being good enough.
We do this in many ways: striving to excel in school or in our work; amassing the right things—a car, house, and lifestyle; diving into adventure or intense experiences; looking and dressing a certain way; or seeking the perfect relationship and family.
But in the end, it’s never “good enough.”
Our relationships never quite measure up; the job never quite brings the fulfillment we seek; our adventures become more and more daring in the hopes of capturing that fleeting feeling of fulfillment.
As some point we either face the truth of our inner self-doubt or “numb out” with some type of addictive behavior (e.g., work obsession, drug addiction, prescription drugs to regulate our mood, food or exercise addition).
Without facing the deep wound and healing the split, we cut ourselves off from the possibility of true fulfillment and the full expression of our unique gifts and life purpose. We deny the birth of the potential in our soul—what we were born to be and live.
The journey to true inner liberation is the journey of total self-love and self-acceptance. Without letting go of the inner doubt of our essential worthiness, we keep living less-than lives, fearful of losing the things that give us the temporary and superficial sense of worthiness. When in reality letting go of those things that we use to prop us up frees us to turn inward and find the truth of our magnificence. We find the fulfillment for which we desperately long.
It begins with learning how to love and accept ourselves, truly love ourselves—just as we are—warts and all. It is through this process of self-love that we shed the weight of all of the self-criticism, the “shoulds”, and judgments that limit our potential and our joy.
I know for me it is an ongoing practice of releasing layer upon layer of judgment, self-criticism and self-doubt. And it has been a tremendous affirmation to see where I started as a timid young woman filled with so much self-doubt that she dared never make a decision for herself to a successful entrepreneur who leads a team and helps free others from their own self-imposed inner hells.
It is my life purpose to help others live as they were born to live, and I cannot do that if I’ve not made the journey myself. It’s not over, and it’s not been easy, but I’m immensely grateful for inner peace I have gained.
I won’t claim that the journey to self-love is a walk in the park, but the freedom and joy that is available for those who embark on the journey is well worth the effort!
Why live another day with not feeling that you are enough?
Your inner peace and joy await!
A small step toward total self-love and acceptance is all you need to start your journey. Let me hold your hand as you do.
I’s be honored to help you take that next small step. Please access my calendar with this link, and schedule a time for us to talk.