“This is ourselves… Under pressure”

The self-care establishment is always talking about loving yourself and practicing self-love. I hear that and think it’s so obvious. And yet…Over the summer, this idea of actively practicing self LOVE became a recurring theme in the conferences and classes I was taking online. I took it as a sign and tried starting a Self-love Journal.For someone who has never had any trouble cranking out words when putting pen to paper, I found this exercise of simply writing — and FEELING — “I love you” to myself surprisingly challenging, achingly revealing, and ultimately powerful. I could easily tell myself:

  • “I love how you try.”
  • “I love how you care about the animals.”
  • “I love how hard you work.”

But, simply to write and mean, “I love you,” forced me to confront my inner critic in a way I never really had before.I’ve been thinking a lot about love, lately. As we begin to see a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel we’ve been in the last four years, I feel strongly that our continued fight for justice MUST be fueled by love.

I’m talking about the love that works actively to support the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of each other, our community.

I’ve argued in the past that we need to expand the concept of “self” to include our community, otherwise all efforts at personal growth come at the expense of recognizing our place within systems of power.

But if it’s this hard to tell myself, I love you, and mean it, how am I going to fight for the broader community from a place of love? How am I going to overcome the demons of racism and white supremacy that live on in me, that lurk beneath the surface as fear of perceived others?

Perhaps my difficulty saying, I love you, to myself, and meaning it, is in part about my own shame and guilt, the recognition that those OTHER white people I call racist are also me (along with my other shortcomings).

Well, guess what? None of us is perfect. So I figure we could all start by learning to love our own imperfect selves, and support each other in the process. Perhaps through this process we will gain compassion through community.

We’ve all been under a lot of pressure these past 8 months… 4 years… 400 years. We need to heal and move forward with love. There will be many paths forward, different for each of us. But I see the unifying factor as love and compassion for ourselves and each other.

This week, I invite you to join me in the practice of simply saying to yourself —either verbally, looking in the mirror, mentally, or in writing: I love you. Acknowledge all that you are struggling with and give yourself credit for persevering through this crisis. Do this for just 1 minute every day for 5 days. Let’s see how we do. #iloveyoume

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