A little self loving goes a long way

I found myself awake in the early hours of the morning today, drenched in sweat, restless, a nagging, contracted sensation gripping my whole body. Decidedly not a pleasant way to start the day. And it was far too early to be starting much of anything at that point, so I pulled out my journal and decided to write through the discomfort.

Taking pen to paper, or in instances, fingers to keyboard, has long been one of my preferred methods for navigating through my inner world. There’s something in the movement of writing that dissipates the accumulated energy, not unlike the experience of dancing, doing a yoga practice or making love can move, transform and release certain blockages in our systems. And writing engages my brain as well as my body in a way that lets it feel included without me getting stuck up there. Win-win!

As I began to write, I recounted what I understood to have been the instance that had sparked this midnight toss-and-turn foray. There had been a change of plans, or so I perceived it, between my beloved and I, and a period of time that I thought we were going to have together in the midst of multiple periods of separation was now panning out differently than I’d believed. And my response to this was to get sulky and resentful, which I very thinly veiled beneath an exterior of “It’s ok. It’s fine” even though my inner sentiments were the total opposite.

The thing was (and is) my logical, rational adult self understood the change was reasonable and likely to both of our benefits and not actually a cause for me to be all bent out of shape. Because of this, as I wrote in the pre-dawn darkness, I came to understand that the real cause of my discomfort was my own self-judgment. I was feeling crappy because I was judging my response as immature and unwarranted, rather than simply accepting it, allowing space for it, and most critically, not attaching to it.

Therein lies the lesson I wish to share.

The one in me who is younger and less secure and sensitive to triggers that present-moment adult me recognizes as harmless deserves my loving care, and as the adult, part of my own maturation and healing process is to have the discernment and skill to give it. So when I relate to her with harsh judgment and label her feelings with critical, negative associations, she contracts and sulks and hurts. And because she is me, I do the same.

After my midnight journaling session, I managed to drift off for a couple more hours of sleep. When I awoke again at a somewhat more manageable hour, I went to my altar to do my morning ritual. It was there that this clarity revealed itself to me. I saw the inner workings of this experience I’d been living through for what they were. And I understood that the healing balm needed to soothe the ache inside was my own complete acceptance of my feelings.

Yes, some might call them immature or irrational and that may even be true. And I can love them anyway. I can embrace them anyway. I can do this because I have no attachment to them and I know I am not them. That’s really key! I, in the sense of self that I call Jessica here and now, am not necessarily immature or irrational for sake of feeling what I feel. These emotions, and the sensations of shame that they provoked in my body – tightness, uneasiness, sleeplessness – are all wonderful signposts that guide me toward what is really True. They help to teach me about Self by showing me how my own self works. A microcosm of the macrocosm.  Self is so much more than the sum of its parts. I am so much more than my emotions and how I label them.

As soon as I embraced this notion, and embraced myself lovingly without judging what I was feeling, the energy I’d bottled up inside did indeed dissipate. I felt myself relax and settle at the cellular level. Calm washed over my body and lightness returned to my being, which had been made heavy by my cycle of self-judgment and loathing.

It is powerful medicine to learn to really love ourselves without condition. And it is Truth, not cliché, that all love begins with self-love. So I encourage you to find ways to be more loving toward your own self, and to be curious when you find yourself triggered by another as to what’s really at play. It likely is an opportunity to practice acceptance and kindness inwardly in order to invite in greater harmony and ease in all directions.