Radical Self Love: Loving Yourself suffering and joy

You may say that I have some experience in learning to love myself unconditionally.  Last year, I decided that it was the right move for me to uproot myself from a business that was steadily growing, a law practice I loved, and the friends and family that support me in order to enter into the entirely manufactured world of reality television.

At the time I left in April of 2017, I was in a deep space of self-love.  I had done years of internal excavation to really connect with myself.  Hours on the meditation cushion.  Pages and pages in journal reflecting.  Time of being single, living alone, learning who I really was and wanted to be, what fuelled me and inspired me, connecting with my inner light and determining who I was and who I wanted to be in the world.  I had been hitting soul-cycle and yoga like it was my job and was feeling super healthy and strong.  I had just gotten back from an epic vacation in Tulum, Mexico with a new group of friends that felt like family followed by another trip to Florida with my family.  I felt like I had really hit my stride in my law practice to feel that I was truly capable of handling any and all challenges at work and had a strong professional reputation.  My business of coaching, leading corporate meditation and happiness workshops, and leading the Circle was really taking off. 

“So we’re just going to put that on hold and head into the unknown” said my heart. 

My mind, obviously, had a lot of resistance: “what in the god damn hell??”

“Why give up a good thing? Life is really flowing and feeling amazing!”  The amount of love I was feeling each day for myself and for other was off the charts.  Why mess with a good thing?

“Tug-tug” my heart kept on saying, “this is the next right move.”

Here’s what I’ve learned: we should always follow our heart/gut/inner guide and the voice of the mind, the fear voice, is primarily there to keep use safe, comfortable, and otherwise stagnant.  Knowing this, I decided to bust through my mind’s fears and uncertainty and take a risk.

The beauty is that there will forever be footage of how that experience ended for me. My jaw drops and my eyes bug out of my head.  Ever been blindsided before? Let me tell you – it does not feel good.  Ever had your heart broken? Ever had that breakup replayed to millions of people? Let me also tell you – it does not feel good. 

The summer when I got home from that experience I was in the smoke, as I call it.  I did not yet understand why my heart led to something that was ultimately painful.  Doesn’t your heart just always lead to the magic? The magic comes in the suffering too, I learned.  Of what it feels like to learn to love yourself more deeply from an even more raw place. 

When we fail, when things don’t go to plan, when we are blindsided or life throws us a curveball – we have a choice.  We can choose to berate ourselves, get down on ourselves, play the victim, and otherwise make ourselves suffer, or we can choose to love ourselves through it. 

Initially my mind, the ever-inner-critic, wanted to berate me. “How did you not see this coming?” “Why did you choose to do that experience?” “You’re going to look so foolish, and you DID THIS.  You chose to put yourself into that experience.”

I was really “in the smoke” as I call it; those times when things have happened and you’re just not sure why they have happened yet.  While I stood in the smoke and waited for it to clear, what could I do?

I chose to learn to love myself anyway.

To choose to love myself even though I had uprooted my life, flung myself into an insane experience, and come out the other side of it with a broken heart, the impending unknown of watching a wider audience evaluate my experience and share personal things I knew were going to be misconstrued (#soulmatechris), shaken confidence from having aspects of my personality made wrong, fears around my reputation and a business that had stalled by being put on hold. 

I chose to learn to love myself even when my body fought back from all the stress with an autoimmune issue this summer.

I chose to love myself even when I had no idea why I had put myself through that.

I chose to love myself for not having seen it coming. 

I chose to love myself from having chosen to take a risk and having had it not work out the way I imagined.

I chose to love myself when I was told aspects of who I was weren’t okay.

I chose to love myself when I was met with criticism online when the show aired. 

I chose to love myself through my heartbreak, through my fears, through the unknown and through the uncertainty.

It’s one thing to love yourself when things are going well, and there’s beauty in that.  It’s next level shit to learn to love yourself when things aren’t going to plan.  That’s true, unconditional love for yourself.

I got tested, and maybe you will too.  If things are going amazing right now, love yourself there.  Soak it in, baby.  However, if life is really testing you right now, can you learn to love yourself there too?

Here are my top tips for learning to love yourself:

1.      Love where you’re at. 

Don’t resist where you’re at.  Fully accept the present as it is. Resisting what is will only create dissonance.  Be all in with where you're at.  It's only by radical acceptance of what is that we can learn how to navigate it.  When you are in a difficult time, admit it, but then don't expect to know why that is happening.  Trust that this struggle is teaching you things, and it's your job to wait it out for the smoke to clear in order to learn why this has happened. 

2. Fake it til you make it - train your brain to think more loving thoughts

Tell yourself every day one thing that you appreciate about yourself or your life.  This will create neural pathways in your mind that will eventually trigger to find more and more things to love and appreciate about yourself. 

3.  Drop the F Bomb - Forgive Yourself - HARD

That thing you did in the past that you regret?That action you took? The person you hurt? That time you drank too much? That time you screwed up? 

Forgive yourself.  Let it go.  

You were doing the best you could then with what you now know.  What lesson were you learning? Why did you act in that way? Now forgive yourself and move on.  Love yourself for being how you were - how you didn't know better or how you knew but but you still faltered and love yourself for that. You're human.  We all are.  We make mistakes, we learn from them, and we let them go. 

Forgive yourself and then forgive yourself some more. 

4. Do the things that light you up

What makes you feel your best? What lights you up the most? When our energy is up and our vibration is high, we naturally feel more vibrant, expansive and loving.  The more that you focus on doing the things that light you up, the more that you'll find there are things lighting you up and the more loving you will feel. 

I hope this serves you.

Love you,

Catie