Self-love is something so many of us struggle with.
It’s a real challenge to be accepting of all parts of yourself, I know.
But I want to share something that might help.
It’s a groundbreaking and somewhat counter-intuitive method for learning how to love yourself, fully and completely.
I’m not going to say that this is all you need in order to heal all, but I do believe that it’s a powerful starting point for creating self-love.
The method I propose has to do with something called Shadow Work, which has been around for almost a century.
Carl Jung first coined the term “the shadow” with his pioneering work decades ago, and according to him, it refers to an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself.
It’s the parts of ourselves we don’t want to look at and so they stay unconscious and repressed—it’s the negative character traits or desires and judgements we don’t want to admit to, as they are usually in contrast to our self-concept.
In recent years, this idea of shadow work has been expanded upon by a woman named Byron Katie in a method of self-inquiry she developed called “The Work”.
In it, she operates under the premise that essentially we create our own suffering, through projecting our own dysfunctional, unhealed beliefs onto those around us.
Since we are all subjective beings, we actually don’t see people for who they really are, and instead build a story of who they are out of our own beliefs.
We then interact with that story inside of our minds, and project onto them our interpretations of reality.
So, whenever we are in relationship with someone and have some type of complaint or judgment, or experience something in relation to them that causes us suffering, these are all actually just projections of our own self.
Now this may sound like a bunch of mind games but I ask you this: when are we NOT interacting through the lens of our own subjectivity, our own narrative of what our world is, who we think we are, or who someone else is?
We are always creating a story about our world and those in it, and we can do it either unconsciously with old, unquestioned beliefs ingrained in us from childhood or consciously with new beliefs we choose.
Doing “The Work” allows us to recognize and examine our projections and then to consciously take them back, off the other person and see them as reflections of our own world view.
So, with the premise laid, let’s bring it back to our main idea: How do you begin to uplevel your own self-love?
Well, I would start with the invitation to start loving your creations.
Creation = Stories about yourself, others, and life.
Start loving the creation of life you are projecting out there of what you think the world is.
Start loving the creations of the people around you, and start loving the creation of yourself.
Maybe these creations aren’t ideal.
Maybe these creations actually incite negative emotions within you and cause you stress. For the time being, that’s ok.
Just recognizing that they are YOUR creations is the key point here, and then practice loving them as they are.
This is powerful because it returns responsibility back into your lap rather than feeling like you’re at the mercy of others.
You could say, “Oh, look at that judgement I’m having about So-And-So. Aren’t I cute for thinking that? Let’s sprinkle some love on that and add some bonus points to me for being so creative with that projection.”
And then you become more in rapport with your own stories and gain some distance emotionally from them.
At some point during this process you might realize you have some beliefs you don’t want to hold on to anymore. Wonderful.
The next step is to examine those and choose whether you want to keep or discard them.
When you do this, it allows you to more fully come into rapport and love what you have.
It liberates you to create more of what you want in life without being held back by the baggage of your own mind.
Because we can’t create what we want when we feel victimized. We have the greatest power to create when we’ve stepped into a place of agency for our experience and responsibility.
That said, where do you notice you’re creating stories about your reality that are causing suffering?
Are you ready to love them? What would it take to love them?
Some beliefs might be more difficult to unseat than others, either because your identity is wrapped up in them, your view of how the world operates or your view of another person, and if they were to change, the relationship would drastically change.
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