Loving Yourself seems to be a catch phrase that is getting a lot of airplay these days. And still, when I talk with people about what that really looks like in their daily life, they often have a difficult time coming up with examples of how they actually practice self-love.
Now there’s the fluffy kind of self-love, like giving yourself time to take a bath with a glass of wine in the evening, getting a massage or hiring a babysitter when you are the one who desperately needs a timeout. Don’t get me wrong, those are all great self-care actions. If we practiced those things more often, we’d probably lead less stressful lives.
Then there’s the kind of self-love I’m talking about here. The self-love that takes real courage. The kind that may leave you feeling like you have a pit growing in your stomach or a strong hand clamped around your throat before you can take the step to do what it is you’re thinking about doing… or not doing.
This brave variety of self-love requires the ability to hear your own voice of truth that resides within you.
Each of us has this voice of wisdom within, but many of us have not listened to it for so long, that it barely speaks above a whisper. Many of us started shutting down this voice the first time we boldly followed it expecting praise but instead receiving punishment or disapproval from our family and friends. We probably further quieted the voice within when a lover didn’t like us acting a certain way or when we said things that someone thought of as “out of character.”
Self-love is never betraying your own voice of truth, no matter what that looks like.
No matter who gets mad at us or stops talking to us because we’re following our inner knowing, we do it anyway. No matter who walks away, we stay firm in our truth. For most of us, that’s definitely not an easy commitment to make and at times feels even terrifying.
By the time I was married and nearing 40, my internal voice of truth was barely speaking to me. That’s a lie. It was always speaking to me, I was simply choosing to not listen. It seemed easier to not listen than to think about what my voice of truth might be telling me. If I opened up and really listened to what it was saying, what would happen to my life? Could I listen to it and keep everything the same? Could I acknowledge the voice of truth inside of me and do nothing about it? The answer is yes, that is possible, but only for awhile.
My unhappiness was a clue that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live.
My feeling of depression came from the fact that I was ignoring me for the sake of keeping others comfortable. The funny thing about my voice of truth was it would still find ways to speak up. No matter how hard I tried to keep it quiet and control my world to keep it from becoming chaotic and disruptive, the voice would show up time and time again reminding me that this isn’t the life I wanted to live. I didn’t even know what the life I wanted to live looked like, but I knew that, above all else I wanted to be happy. I tried everything I could think of to be happy and keep things the same. I was running out of options.
I remember sitting next to the fireplace in my beautiful new home, reading whatever personal growth book was within my reach, when I felt this overwhelming sadness wash over me.
“Why couldn’t I just be happy?
Why wasn’t my life that looked so beautiful from the outside enough for me? Why couldn’t I simply take the author’s advice and ‘bloom where I was planted’ and let go of the idea that this wasn’t the life I wanted to live?” I put the book down and walked across my kitchen floor. As I looked at my family gathered in the great room, I heard a clear, strong voice arise from within.
“The truth will set you free.”
What? Where did that come from? What truth? Certainly the voice wasn’t advocating for me to speak MY truth… it would hurt too many people and disrupt too many lives. It must be referring to some other truth.
I heard it again. “The truth will set you free.”
Damn. What do I do when the truth I was holding inside was a very inconvenient truth? What do I do when my truth seems very different than everyone else’s truth?
I wish I could say that I only spoke and acted on my truth from that day forward and everything was easy and fell into place. That’s not the case. But once I acknowledged that voice I couldn’t quiet it so easily anymore. And as I gave it more space, the voice got louder and my burden actually started to feel lighter. I began to think about all the other possibilities available to me.
What I did next was simply seek out support.
I found people who I could practice speaking my truth with, people who would listen and didn’t judge me or tell me I was wrong. I found people who held the space for me to discover more of the truth of what I really wanted my life to be like, the truth of who I wanted to be in the world and finally the truth of what I needed to do to align my life with what I knew about me deep inside.
It didn’t happen overnight. It was a process. It felt scary to start the process of discovering my truth but it was even scarier to keep that voice shut down and stay stuck where I was. To end up being in this same place of unhappiness in six months, one year, two years down the road was unthinkable.
When you decide to live life according to your truth, you will be tested to see if you are committed.
This is where you will find out that loving yourself can be a bitch. The people around you who are used to you doing what they want you to do and quietly (or not so quietly) going along with how they want things to be, probably won’t like your new found sense of self-assurance and dedication to your truth. And they will let you know it.
You may feel pressure to conform to their wishes or to retreat back into the box you used to be in. You were easier to deal with that way. People will leave and it may hurt. But better they leave than you lose the one person who matters the most in living your life in the best way possible… You!
As you leave self-betrayal behind, others may say that you are no longer acting like “you.”
Please remember that is the farthest thing from the truth. You are FINALLY allowing yourself to be who you really are. How do you know that? Because with each step you take and each word you utter that is aligned with your truth, you will feel stronger and a new sense of happiness will start to creep up from your soul. You will feel a sense of empowerment as you give up being the victim in your life for being the creator of your experience. It’s a wonderful feeling. And even though it can feel scary and sometimes a bit overwhelming, it is the best feeling in the world.
I know this is the truth, because this is exactly how it happened for me. Facing my truth was a very scary prospect and one I avoided for many years. But as I continued to practice this form of radical self-love and align my life more and more with who I really am, I discovered a life of happiness, passion and fulfillment.
I urge you to give yourself that kind of radical self-love.
If you are feeling challenged with being YOU in your intimate relationships, there’s no better time to step into your truth than right now. I am here to offer you support and guidance along the way. If you’d like to find out how I can support you in your discovery of your truth, I invite you to schedule a free 30 minute Clarity Call with me.
You are here on this planet for a reason and have something to say and contribute to the world.
When we step into that space, we find our ultimate happiness and sense of fulfillment. Life is meant to be a happy experience. We are meant to thrive, not just survive. But it’s up to you. You’re the only one who can make that happen. The truth will set you free.