This month I’ve decided to tackle self love once and for all.  I started the book Learning to Love Yourself by Gay Hendricks Ph.D. on my Kindle and haven’t looked back.  The last couple weeks I’ve struggled with feeling worthy enough and lovable.  I’ve allowed negativity and insecurities to create a cloud over me.  The right books come into my life at exactly the right time.  God’s way of communicating with me and helping me.  Now let’s get to the reason why you’re most likely here:  Why is loving yourself so difficult?

Why Self Love is Difficult

The antithesis to transformation is resistance which “keeps life painful and complicated”.  Hendricks goes on to say, “It seemed like my whole life was one big resistance: against my feelings, against love, against my own energy and potential.”

Once he recognized this resistance he decided to stop resisting.  His transformation started with a choice and willingness to accept what he couldn’t before.  “When I dropped my stance of resistance, I felt totally connected to myself.”

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There are two things which happen when we resist experiencing our life:

– Resisting Our Experience

When we resist our experience we lose our direct relationship with life.  Our personal experience IS a direct response to life.  If we resist experiencing, by blocking or ignoring emotions, we only see life “through the fog of our beliefs, opinions, and conditioned responses.”

This hit so close to home for me.  I often felt like I was looking in on the world from the outside as a kid.  Observing others’ experience with life and not the one to experience.  I realized why I felt detached from my own life in my early twenties.  Emotions were scary.  Learning from others’ mistakes and keeping a safe distance was easier.  Rather than vulnerability I chose protection.

Reading this section of the book made sense of my situation.  We resist experiencing our own life and therefore see life through a fog and limited lens of beliefs and opinions which we create.

– Dramatizing Our Experience

If we don’t allow ourselves to feel deeply the emotions we have then we tend to fantasize.  An example Hendricks gives is if someone resists experiencing deeply their sexual feelings the person may “fantasize about sex, flirting, worrying about sex, and forming beliefs about sex”

Perhaps this provides a release for some or feels like experience without attached consequence.  Either way it’s an effect of resisting emotions.

Stopping Resistance is a Decision

Most of you instinctively know how to stop resisting.  But choosing to start experiencing your life is still difficult enough that people are “content to live in the world of non-experience of drama, of shadow.”

Here are some ways you can start truly experiencing your life:

  1. Feel Your Feelings:  feeling angry? Say “I’m feeling angry” then let yourself feel it.  Feeling sad? Say to yourself “That’s sadness” then love yourself for feeling sad.  If you stop squirming and running away from what you feel and instead become honest with yourself, you’ll find the emotion passes faster than you think and you’ll feel peace.
  2. Becoming Willing Makes You Able: even after my daily meditation, prayer, and writing sadness and irritation try to take over my thoughts.  In those moments, it’s difficult for me to have feelings of love so if I can’t find the strength to think positively or feel good feelings then I simply say “I’m willing to love myself even though I’m not doing so well” and that’s it.  Just being willing opens you up for success.
  3. Align With Reality: honesty honesty honesty.  Can’t stress this enough.  Just the other day I had an almost meltdown in my German class because everyone in the class was learning a certain concept at a much faster rate than I was.  My reaction was to quit, run out of the class, and never come back.  My mind shut down and became a thick foggy cloud.  Before actually bolting, I noticed how much I was resisting my emotions.  So I took a breath and told myself “You’re freaking out because this is hard.  It’s supposed to be at first.  But you can do this and if you can’t? So what.  Nothing physically will happen to you.  Keep going, learn another part of German that’s a bit easier, and come back to this section another time.” As soon as I said this my mind completely cleared and I was once again present.  Peace replaced tension.  I became aligned with reality and was able to finish class with joy and peace.  Guess what? Those same students started shutting down and struggling on something I thought was really easy towards the end of class.  My perspective was changed to recognize that learning is relative.  Everyone struggles at some point.

As I continue with the book I’m sure more posts will come but for now this is a great start.  Take time to recognize how you stop yourself from experiencing life, commit to being willing to love yourself, then practice those three points above throughout the week.  Even if you choose one moment to practice on that’s a great start.

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