They say that at the root of all of our problems in life and relationship dramas is self love, or the absence thereof. Whether you struggle with your weight, body image, financial issues, business failures or your romantic relationships the common denominator is always YOU.
Self love has been spoken about so much its almost become a cliché or sorts. I myself have been known to break out in a Southern American accent in my attempts to imitate Dr. Phil saying “you’re fat because you don’t love yourself.” I say this in half jest and to lighten the mood in the room or at a seminar or workshop but there is inherent truth is this. At the root of all of our life and relationship dramas is the essential fact that we don’t fully love and accept ALL parts of ourselves. We may think we do, we may even convince ourselves that we do, but deep down we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t want anyone to know we have, some we don’t even want to acknowledge ourselves. These dark places where we don’t shine the light of our self-love, where we don’t accept ourselves but rather seek to hide, are the very places that come up to bite us in the preverbal butt in key moments in our live. People often refer to this as the self-saboteur and indeed that is what is happening in the moments when we feel like our life is falling apart or we are losing control. Few of us however understand why this is happening let alone how to stop it. Some of us have behaviours so pervasive and strong that we’re knee-deep in them before we even notice what’s happening to ourselves, our lives, our relationships and to others around us.
For years I knew this was my problem and the answer to many of my “issues” or stuck places, from my weight, to my career, my friendships and most importantly my romantic relationships. It took me a while to realize that I was the cause, I was sabotaging things in my life. For the early part of life I was still blaming people and circumstances outside of myself. Once I started to learn some spiritual principles I began to take more responsibility but then this led me down the rabbit hole of starting to over spiritualize everything and soon it became another way I would blame or punish myself for things. I was aware of self-sabotaging behaviour to a degree but I had no idea what to do with it. I knew that the narcissist, the bitch, the needy girl and the spoiled brat to name a few, all lived inside me somewhere but there was no way in hell I was going to admit it to anyone, let alone myself!
These are the parts that Carl Jung referred to as “the shadow”. They are parts of our personality that we learned early on to disown because they would not be accepted or acceptable to others and so in order to survive, to fit in and to be “liked” we learned to hide them and pretend they were not there. What did we do instead? We began to project all these things onto other people. Better I see this in you and judge you for it than admit the painful awful truth that I myself am this way. Of course much of this is unconscious for most people, but to quote Dr. Jung again “until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” This is why the work of self-awareness is so important. This is why doing your shadow work is vital.
We can often get stuck doing this work on ourselves though. I hear so often from my clients, “okay so I see it, I see what you’re saying. So now what?” The problem with this level of awareness is that it’s purely intellectual and not at the level of embodiment and true deep emotional exposure. When you do real shadow work it can get really gritty and ugly and it’s very often mind blowing. Sometimes it needs to get ugly before it gets beautiful which is why it can be helpful to have a guide. To cultivate and grow any garden first we dig out the weeds and then we plant the flowers.
In my journey down the dark garden path (a journey that I’m still on by the way and will likely never end), I kept hitting potholes along the way to the truth because in my search I was approaching it from the intention of “fixing” myself. This can never work because we’re still approaching the dark side with judgment, from a place where we’re broken. The truth is that what we are all whole. We’re not on this journey to fix ourselves or arrive at some lofty place of enlightenment. We are already enlightened, we are already whole… we ARE love itself. Our job is to remember this and clear the cobwebs that prevent the light and truth of who we are from shining.
The path to embracing all the disowned parts of yourself and loving them IS the essential work of the human experience. To remember that we are divine, whole and unbroken is the work of everyone. I always think of Kelly Clarkson’s song Dark Side. In that song she sings about her shadow “it’s not pretty there and few have ever gone…” and she asks, “if I show it to you now will you run away… will you love me?” She’s asking to be reminded of who she really is and at the most basic level we all are asking for the same thing. The unconditional love that we all want is to be loved wholly for the good, the bad and the ugly, but here’s the kicker… no one is going to do this for you. This is your task, and should be given as much priority and importance as buying healthy food, working out and the other beautiful things you do for yourself. You have access to unconditional love in every moment.
How can we expect to lose weight, find love, peace, abundance and freedom if we’re hiding pieces of ourselves that just want to be loved? These very pieces are going to get in the way every time we try and make a change or find happiness. The authentic version of ourselves is whole and complete, light and dark. In order to live lives of joy and peace we need to be willing to forgive ourselves, love ourselves completely and accept it all… to remember our wholeness and love the “unlovable parts”.
“Nobody’s picture perfect but we’re worth it!” ~ Kelly Clarkson
I love you,