Let me say first of all, and sorry to disappoint some of you, but this is not a guide to masturbation.
I could maybe offer a tip or two in that regard (don’t do it while operating heavy machinery, for example), but it’s not really what my coaching’s about and people are trying to eat.
Instead, I want to stray briefly into the cliché-ridden minefield that is learning to love yourself, and learning just what the hell that means in the first place.
It sounds like nirvana doesn’t it? A weird delusional place where everything’s peachy, where you can do no wrong and where if someone doesn’t like you they can go fuck themselves because all that matters is that you love yourself dammit.
But we know that life isn’t nirvana. And we know that delusions aren’t really that good for us.
So how does this “loving myself” thing really work then? What does it mean and what does it take?
Here, ladies and gentlemen, are my thinkings…
Integrate, don’t separate
Separation happens when you try to deliver on peoples’ expectations of you and your desire to please people. You start to compartmentalise, to step into a role with certain people or to mask other parts of yourself with others.
But it’s really hard to love yourself when you’re divided, separated and pigeon-holed. Do you love the part of you that’s a parent? Or the part that’s a homebody? Maybe the part that’s damn good at your job? Or maybe the part that wants to jack it all in and do something crazy?
We’re all made of different things that, when brought together, add up to more than the sum of the beautiful, crazy, immensely capable and distinctly fucked up parts.
Loving one of those pieces and not another just leads to more division and separation, so loving yourself starts with bringing all of these parts together because they’re all you. No one piece is more deserving of love than another. Which brings me to…
Welcome them warmly
Your body’s a funny shape and other people look better in clothes than you. You always hold back just a little, and maybe you’d be further along if you just stopped doing that. You hate the way your voice sounds when you hear yourself back. And isn’t it time you got your shit together and figured out what you’re doing with your life?
We all beat ourselves up for our flaws and imperfections, but loving yourself isn’t conditional on resolving these flaws or smoothing over the imperfections. You love yourself because you’re imperfect, because without those wrinkles and flaws you’d be a preening, plastic princess where peoples’ perceptions are more important than personal possibility (say that 10 times quickly).
You have to welcome your flaws and imperfections warmly and sincerely, because the alternative is judgement, conflict and feeling very much like shit.
Invite your flaws into your home and be the best damn host you can be. These are your friends. These are your family. These are you.
Give a shit
If you’re just coasting and not really living, it’s going to be hard to love your life.
We all end up somewhere we didn’t plan, doing something we might not want with people we wouldn’t necessarily choose. And sometimes that permeates through your skin into your heart, and things become a little greyer.
That feeling seeps and saps, but here’s the thing.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean you have to love everything in your life
Loving yourself is independent of circumstance. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re single. It doesn’t matter if you love your job.
What loving yourself does mean, is that you give a shit about the things that matter to you. So even when you find yourself someplace unexpected or unwanted, you don’t conflate that with your self-worth and you still honour what matters.
Loving yourself means giving a shit about your heart and soul, regardless of your circumstances.
I’ve taken relationships, careers, finances and all sorts of other things in my life and royally fucked them up.
Not every one, but enough to have made a difference in my life. Who knows where I’d be without those mistakes.
You, of course, will have fucked up too. And who knows where you’d be without your mistakes.
But if I was to think less of myself because of the mistakes I’ve made, my self-worth would be akin to something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe. I can’t for one second think less of myself because of my mistakes. They were mine to make, and man alive did I make them.
It’s part of being human, and part of learning to love yourself.
Forgiveness, rather than regret.
Which all leads us to the inevitable question. Do you love yourself?