It’s the season for love and not even the pandemic can stop our expressions and expectations for this season. For the first time in a while I am mindful of the fact that I don’t have a valentine but though mindful, I am not in the least bothered because I am fully occupied with myself.
I am discovering who I am and most importantly liking myself more. I am more comfortable with me, my looks, my weight, my thinking and inclination. I am more inclined to ask myself what I feel, really feel about issues, more introspective, more determined to please myself and more compassionate and kind towards myself.
I am learning to excuse my faults, accept my weaknesses, celebrate my strengths and enjoy my uniqueness. I love the way I look, think, process issues and stand my truth. I enjoy the way I make fun of myself and it’s unbelievable that it has taken almost half a century and a heck of a journey to finally come to love me.
But here I am.
My younger years were filled with self loath about my weight, lack of good hair, skin tone, lack of the skills and talents that I envied in others and though I cracked self deprecating and disparaging jokes, I felt that in so many ways, Life had been unkind to me ( a fallacy I discovered much later). Try as much as I could, I just felt I couldn’t measure up to the image of who I was supposed to be and it’s not a mystery I found that image difficult to attain because it wasn’t intrinsically me.
In falling in love with myself, I have come to understand the concept of self compassion. I know I speak for the majority when I say that we are most unkind to ourselves. I can’t pinpoint exactly how we become so mindful of it but I know how it grows, that voice that constantly tells us how bad, unworthy, undeserving we are, tables all the wrong that we do and downplays as common, ordinary and unworthy of praise our strengths and wins. That voice that feeds on societal expectations, bad experiences and insensitive comments.
We all grew up listening to that voice, some of us more than others and we believed it because we thought it was telling us the truth, the real truth that no one else could, but I have come to discover that that voice doesn’t tell us the truth at all times nor does it tell the whole truth. It’s been known to sabotage us, hold us ransom to unattainable expectations, justified maltreatment from others, criticized, second guessed and judged our every move and told us we are unworthy of love and the good things of life.
In her book Self compassion- Dr. Kristin Neff defines self compassion as having three components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating.”
In the journey towards loving myself, I have learnt to ask myself the questions. What is Tara feeling? Why does she feel the way she does, are her feelings valid in the light of what she knows and in the totality of the circumstances and situation? The answers to these questions have helped me understand myself more and treat myself with kindness and empathy. I have learnt to give myself a hug and say sorry to myself, to pat myself on the back and say well done, good job, to treat myself to the things that make me happy- love songs and moist cake. I have also learnt to look out for and protect me. To appreciate my good virtues without pride, arrogance or even embarrassment because I accept and praise the same virtues in other people.
It is sad that we do not treat ourselves with the kind of understanding, kindness and empathy we reserve for others and I must admit that it has quite difficult to be kind towards myself especially having listened to that critical inner voice most of my life and societal labels of my being a “strong person” but being strong is a myth, a myth that robbed me of my vulnerability and the ability to empathize with myself, a situation which led to my bottling things up until they exploded in my face or seeped into my consciousness and stared me in the face till I took cognizance of them.
Thankfully, I now know that I am not as strong as I am told I am, I now accept that I can get overwhelmed, struggle in certain situations and that it is okay not to be okay ( for a while). I also know that evil can and does exist in me but I strive to stifle it and rather turn my attention to those parts of me that always show up, that always do right, the parts I don’t ever want to change. So today I leave you with this quote which has intrigued me for a while but which I am beginning to understand, internalize and accept and my prayer is that you too may find yourself falling in love with You.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”—Marianne Williamson- A Return to Love.
Happy Valentine in arrears.