Self-love is an art that we all need to master at some point in our lives if we want to enjoy fulfilling long lasting relationship.
To love ourselves actually may be harder than to love any other person, because we know ourselves thoroughly, through and through.
Looking back at all we have done in the past, and remembering: “Boy, I did such things as this and that…”
And not only the good things we’ve done but unpleasant things we’ve done also come back at us.
How can we love ourselves with knowing all those shadow sides of us?
For me, it came with the realization that those shadow sides of myself are not me.
Some of your shadow parts are identities that you created to protect yourself from being hurt by others.
They were identities that I created to protect me from others, who hurt me in the past. The most famous one in my repertoire of roles was being invisible and hiding my talents. Living in a small village being smart made me unpopular at school, other kids envy me. Desperately trying to fit in I constantly try to hide my talents and make myself small.
Some of your shadow parts are identities that others force upon you to help you fit into society.
Another type of identities were the roles that others force upon me with the best intention to help me to survive in this world.
Like for instance choosing profession that will guarantee me not just a job, but a high paid job.
Attending a college that will prove that I am smart, not the one that was my heart calling.
Dropping out of ballet classes just because they required me to miss the school for an hour or two every week. Allowing my friends to use me to get what they want. Always doing what others want from me and giving up my wants, just to not be lonely, without friends.
Although I am grateful to all the people in my childhood who create those identities for me, they are not part of who I am.
They did help me to survive until I grown up and was finally able to take care of myself, financially and emotionally.
But at some point in my life came the time, when I didn’t need to play all those roles anymore. When I was able to give up on friends who use me and find ones who treat me kindly.
All those identities did help me to survive, but they also take away all the joy and keep kind honest people outside of my life.
Convince me that life is just black and white without bright colors that I love to play with at my art school classes. All those identities that convince me, that I need people in my life who used me to get what they want otherwise I will be lonely and isolated.
Even though I was aware that those identities were not part of me and worthless, it took a great amount of time, energy and finding the right process for me to release them.
Then I was finally ready to be just me most of the time. It still happens that now I caught myself acting weird and out of integrity. It’s just that now I know, that that’s not me.
I don’t need to be a better person or be perfect, I just need to explore which role I’m still playing, the role that is not part of me and left it behind.
Here are my most effective ways to deal with unlovable parts of myself
- Spend more time with people with whom you naturally show more of your real self.
Who are those people? Look for the signs like these:
– When you enjoy the company of somebody so much that you totally forget to pretend
– When you feel so relaxed that you show more of yourself than you normally do.
Those are the people with whom you could easily love yourself. When you will become more familiar with more parts of yourself, you could do the same for others
- Be the person that people feel relaxed and safe with.
That will help them to be more of themselves and love themselves more.
Then when somebody told you, “Thanks to you, I come to love myself,” or “I love myself when I’m with you more than when I am with anybody else,” that would be something, that would help you to love yourself more.
- Know that unlovable parts of you are identities that are trying to protect you from pain.
Instead of being judgmental about myself, thinking “I may be a nice guy at heart,” or “I may be basically a cruel person,” “Which one is really me?” Do not judge yourself, nobody has a perfect life, even you. Recognize that unkind, angry side of you are wounded parts of you.
- Stop judging the identities that are still left inside of you, they are not you
Be aware that they are not you, but at some point in your life you need them to help you to survive. Thank them for the help and be kind with yourself when you are in the process of releasing them.
- Find ways to heal the wounded parts of you. (with Byron Katie proces of 4 loving questions)
When I have to face myself after I hurt him, I have a hard time to accept the not so nice parts of myself. The guilt and shame prevent me from accepting that part of me.
I should be a better person. I shouldn’t hurt him.
When I ask myself Is it true, that I should be a better person and that I shouldn’t hurt him I couldn’t deny that.
But can I absolutely know that I shouldn’t hurt him, with all the pain and fears inside me, that was running my life? Probably not, I did the best (the best that my wounded part was capable at that time) that I could. That’s what we do when we are deeply wounded, we hurt other peoples, not because that is our nature, but because the wounded part is not capable of something else.
What happened when I feel guilty about hurting him?
I was cold, run away and became unavailable. I pretend that I did not care. But on the inside, I was terrified that I will be hurt again. And I just wasn’t ready to feel that pain again.
I reality without that identity that was trying to protect me from pain, I would never hurt him.
I would never hurt myself.
And after seeing the story from the perspective, there was no guilt left, only compassion for myself. Compassion for this brave girl who messes her life sometimes so deeply while desperately trying to survive.
In the process of removing identities that are not part of ourselves, only parts that are left are parts of our real self. We don’t need to try loving unlovable parts of ourselves.
We only need to master the art of Self-love – removing identities to uncover who we are.