At the end of a session with a new client, the said client commented to me on the way out that they were happy that I hadn't mentioned 'self love', It was said tongue and cheek and we both laughed in the way you do when you've only just met someone; however, if I am honest with myself there was something about those two words together that did make me slightly guffaw inside. Coming from a counsellor I wasn't sure that the guffawing at the idea of loving thyself was in keeping with my chosen career path, so I decided then and there that I would find some time to work out what that guffaw was about.
Making lunch the next day I opened myself up to my feelings around the above and let my imagination do the rest. I was initially transported to the smell of nag champa and visions of dancing hippies, which actually is not an issue for me; you can frequently hear my partner mutter "Tanis, you are such a hippy!", so this was not the problem. I refocused and the next thoughts that came in centered around phrases such as How to learn to love yourself in 10 easy steps, with talk of creating self love rituals and knowing that your body is a loving vessel; I mean really! it's just jargon for 'try and find a bit of time for yourself and try to eat well'. Why does it need to be dressed up in visuals of people in flowing white linen, perfect teeth, drinking wheat grass while leaving footprints in the sand. This is not how people generally live and to me it seems as though it promises something that may not be delivered and the gift of love is a big delivery to fulfill.
Yes, of course people do need to find time for themselves etc. but this surely needs to be within the realms of their everyday lives. To me it seems that this misses the idea of acceptance; acceptance that this is my life and how do I make things better based on what I have got and what is within me? This for me is where the heart of the matter lies, should we be talking about self acceptance rather than self love and actually can self acceptance lead to a deeper love of self? When I say acceptance , I am not talking about self resignation, I mean acceptance! Acceptance of all the different parts of who a person is, this includes accepting a person's potential and capability as well as their limitations (limitations not being a bad thing; I will never be an amazing artist or do a good job at a lot of things I would like to be able to, but I can always try and enjoy them along the way). By owning these things I believe a person can make choices in life that fit with who they truly are, not who they think they should be. A person can feed their strengths and know when something may not be right for them. Self acceptance is not about what you can acquire, it is a quiet respect for who you are.
If I think about my son I can tell you that I love him fiercely and it doesn't matter what he does I accept him. Of course I get angry and frustrated being a parent but it doesn't make me love him less and I have to really accept how I feel in any given situation, know that I love him and make a decision on how I react based on those things together, being congruent and understanding what is best. Following on from that, if I get angry and frustrated with myself but accept how I feel and act accordingly to what is best for me am I showing myself love and is this then indeed self love? I think maybe it could be?
I feel as though the term self love has been appropriated by some (whatever their intentions, i'm not knocking them as people) and I worry that there is a view out there, an ideal, a culture that has been shifting towards a society that believes that things can be 'fixed' and/or made into something better, but what is wrong with who you already are? And where does this thinking end? Maybe that is a subject for another post, but in the meantime let's take back some self love man!