In this article, I am happy to share my very profound and personal journey of understanding of what Self-Love is. It’s also about how I came to discovering what self-love means, and how I practice it.
Confusion: What is Self-Love?
When I used to hear Oprah talking about Self-Love, I had no idea what she meant. The concept of Self-Love felt elusive and unattainable.
I would hear her say, “You truly can’t love another until you love yourself,” and I was truly confused by what she meant.
I thought that I did love others, so maybe I could skip the self-love part and put all my energy into loving others and that would be ok. (It is true that I was loving others who didn’t love me back btw, and that dysfunctional kind of love is what I used as confirmation that I was indeed unlovable).
I spent so much of my life hating myself, spending countless hours with that negative voice inside me telling me I wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, funny enough, rich enough, or interesting enough. Looking back, I see so much self-doubt, criticism, and judgment on every inch of my being.
It was debilitating.
When I got to my lowest of lows, I had dysmorphia – a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.
When I would leave the house, I believed people were laughing at me because I was so monstrously ugly, disgusting and fat. That led to more isolation, which handed the negative voice a megaphone.
Later in life, my therapist helped me understand that dysmorphia isn’t as uncommon as you would think and is a common result of anxiety.
Therapy was the First Step to Self-Love
Putting all my energy loving and taking care of others worked as a pacifier for a long time, until I met someone who showed up and loved me. It was so uncomfortable, I sometimes hated it. I wondered what was wrong with the guy and was suspicious of what he really wanted from me.
It was so uncomfortable for me that it led me to making a commitment to therapy.
First thing I needed to do was heal from the past, accept myself, forgive myself, and start building myself up again.
I am a rape survivor and this deep wound stayed with me every single day; always present as a reminder of how unlovable, dirty, stupid and reckless I was. I believed that I deserved what I got.
I never thought I would get past this feeling of unworthines. But, talking about the wound during the course of my therapy sessions finally got me to the place of acceptance around this trauma. I began to understand that I didn’t deserve it; that I was and am lovable. That it was NOT MY FAULT.
Yes, the deep wound was a PART of my story, BUT not all of it.
From Therapy to Coach Training: Continuing the Healing
Slowly, I got more comfortable in my own skin. The voices got quieter, and I felt ready to start something new.
My therapist suggested I enroll in MMS Coach Training with Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott. She shared that of all the training she had ever done, this one made the most impact on her life. I trusted her more than myself at the time, so off I went.
I found myself in a room of strangers with an open and curious heart, ready to dive in and see what would happen. It was so much more than I ever would have expected.
I got to know myself better; started to feeling my feelings and then began understanding what truly I wanted in life. From there, I started making choices for myself!
As part of the training, The MMS Institute offered the Inner Negotiation Workshop, which is where I faced my pain head on.
I continued healing my past with the help of the other participants who played different people or parts of myself so I could yell, scream, hit things and practice hard conversations. I this workshop setting, I learned how I could set better boundaries with my mother and family.
I also read Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott’s book, 10 Rules for Being Human and Rule #1: “Love your body, It’s the Only One You’ve Got.” This rule and the entire book left a deep impression on me. This was the beginning of loving my body.
Coach Training Led to Discovering My Purpose
As I myself became a coach, I began to uncover my purpose.
I started to listen and trust myself more than I had ever before.
I allowed love and support into my life, which in turn gave me confidence. Of course, this didn’t happen all at once; the metamorphosis took several years, and it wasn’t always a bed of roses.
I had a lot of anger boiling up inside me, which the people I loved most took the brunt of. There was way too much drinking, and hiccups where I reverted back to unhealthy behaviors…
But, clarity and self-love did make its way into my heart and mind.
And, Oprah was right.
Now I can take on almost any circumstance in life and I don’t make it about me or beat myself up.
Healing into Self-Love
I now know what self-love is.
My life is precious to me now.
I know there is not another human like me.
Everything in my life that I experienced, even the hard stuff is what makes me the one and only ME.
I celebrate the life that I have, the person that I am.
Nobody can take it away and nobody can appreciate and honor myself as much as I can.
I found my power.
I found my passion.
Benefits of Self-Love: An Open and Curious Mindset
My mindset is open and curious, and I take the time to identify my feelings.
If I make a mistake in public, instead of feeling stupid and unworthy I look at the situation, examine my feelings, and try to understand the lesson.
For example, recently I coached in public, and it didn’t go well. In fact, let’s say it was a real bomb…
I spent time reflecting on the experience and looking at the big picture of what had happened.
Here are some of the insights I uncovered during my reflections:
- Will this 30-minute coaching session ruin me, the client, or the students? The answer was a resounding No.
- I discovered I want to coach more. And, I needed to coach more than a few times a year in public.
- And, perhaps, it was time to get a supervisor to watch my coaching sessions.
- Amazingly, I did many things right in the session.
In conclusion, I realized that I am ok. I even noticed where I can grow as a coach. Now, I consider this experience to be a gift.
And, very importantly, I never once turned on myself!
Today, I am a Coach, Coach Trainer, and Managing Director for The MMS Institute of Northern California. I’m honored that I get to support people in finding their own way to healing and self-love!