I've got a big statement for you today. It's this:
I don't believe that ANYONE actually LACKS self love.
Yup. I said it.
I don't believe anyone has a TRULY sabotaging part of self. A part that is ACTUALLY trying to destroy them. A part that ACTUALLY doesn't like themselves.
Rather, everything we do is coming from a desire to survive. All of our behaviors, thoughts and patterns that seem 'self limiting' in any way, are actually ROOTED in the desire to LIVE - and where our conditioning and early childhood experiences contradicted our true self expression - we learned that we had to get rid of parts of self in order to survive.
We are 'hating' ourselves in order to try to survive. 100% of the time. We are sabotaging ourselves because we feel in our nervous systems that is what we HAVE to do to keep alive. We limit ourselves and stay small because that's what feel SAFE to us and our programmed way of being.
All parts of YOU are trying to help you. They just all have different information about what is and isn't good for you and your survival. Learning to unlearn all the ways of being that were how you had to be to fit into your HOUSEHOLD that are COUNTER to your truth and the truth of reality is HARD WORK. Learning to see all your seemingly self hating parts as messengers leading you back to where you got your wires crossed as to what is TRULY helpful vs. harmful in this life - this is the medicine.
You're not going to get rid of any part of yourself. These self hating parts need to be MATURED not eradicated. Matured out of your conditioning and into real reality.
I hope my reflection here serves to help you witness these parts of yourself not as 'true' parts that are actually RIGHT about you, and not as 'bad' parts that need to be excavated or transcended.
The 'Self Love' Movement Is Still Founded On LACK That Doesn't Actually Exist:
I’ve notice something inside myself, and in the so called ‘self love’ movement in general, that from my perspective, is actually the ‘self improvement’ path.
The self improvement path being the path of continually finding some sort of fault/lacking with ourselves in an attempt to solve our issues that actually lead to us re-traumatizing ourselves and blocking ourselves from seeing what’s truly happening. This keeps us locked in behaviour patterns that harm us on some level despite our best efforts - which differs from self love in that in self love we witness and recognize our inherent wholeness and are able to INTEGRATE and GROW in real life.
The thing I've noticed is the desire to constantly find some sort of lack within myself whenever I witness a seemingly 'self destructive' behaviour pattern.
To tell myself that I’m doing what I'm doing because I ‘lack self love.’
I’m not loving myself enough, or in the right way, and that’s why I’m doing what I am.
For instance, I know for myself I fear asking for help - even though I have seen the benefits of doing so many times, have had many come to support me and have experienced in my adulthood the benefits of being supported when I need it rather than knocking my way thought. Despite this, I still push through at times and do things on my own in a way that hurts me and others. Is this a lack of self love? A lack of self worth and value? Or something else perhaps?
I would like to share a perspective on this that I hope will shed some light on why this is actually just the self improvement path - the never ending path of ‘working on the self’ that gets us essentially no where but MORE traumatized than we already were, why this kind of self talk is actually at the ROOT of WHY we are stuck in our traumas and can’t seem to change to more positive behaviors, and how we can start to address ourselves in a new way that may actually serve our growth. I hope this exploration serves you.
It Seems Logical To Assume A 'Lack' Of 'Self Love' But This is A Never Ending Spiral:
Although it may seem logical and reasonable to my adult self that asking for help is a good thing, and that there must be something lacking in ME that I fear it, it may not be at all that I lack self love and that’s why I don’t ask for help. I know to my adult, logical mind it may seem ‘obvious’ that there are people around you that love me and are capable of supporting me and thus my fear of asking for support must be something lacking ‘in me’ - but if I understand my biology and my history, I may see a different story.
This often gets lost, but we are built for self preservation, not destruction.
SO MUCH of what we do looks logically and objectively like it’s self harming - but no one is actually choosing to harm themselves, or others, for that matter.
Rather we have been ‘programmed’ in our deep nervous systems through a series of events that what we are doing, how we are operating, is our BEST chance for survival and getting our needs met.
We LEARNED to behave exactly as we are as the lesser of whatever evils we have faced, so to speak.
Nothing we do is actually an act of self harm/lack of self love - rather it’s all what we *think and feel and have experienced we need to do to get our needs met.* Even acts that do harm us in some way are done with the hidden motivation of getting OTHER more PRONOUNCED needs met.
This confuses us a lot of the time when we see ourselves harming ourselves physically and mentally in order to try to get emotional and connection needs met - but this is what’s at the root of all our behaviors. A desire to be seen, heard, loved and held trumps even the desire to eat. This is due to the fact that in our childhoods eating (and all other needs being met/pain being alleviated) came THROUGH being loved and accepted, and thus cared about and understood, by a caregiver. We could not meet our own needs or even identify them - we were fully dependent upon our caregivers to love, understand and therefor care for us. All of our nervous systems are wired this way - external love/understanding/approval = provision. This is the ‘Matrix’ we all live in. Being stuck in our childhoods where needs got met through another, most of us never matured past this phase in our nervous systems, only in our minds.
So we will sacrifice everything to be loved and accepted seemingly against our better, adult awareness and judgement, because to our NERVOUS SYSTEMS provision comes only AFTER being loved/understood.
We all want to feel that we have outgrown our childhood perspectives - but even the desire to identify the thing lacking in us that is causing us to be how we are is a childlike perspective. That’s how we solved problems as children - change my behaviour so that I am responded to differently, as that is my ONLY autonomy. Judging ourselves as lacking something is the way we keep ourselves stuck in trauma, it’s how we subtly abandon our inner child that is already in pain and trauma from being shamed and abandoned. That inner child that is driving our behaviour we so deeply want to change.
Learning New Behaviors Requires Re-Training The Nervous System, Not The Intellect:
Re-training our nervous systems to see things as safe that were once very threatening for us takes a LOT of self patience and love. It takes a LOT of re-facing what we are afraid of and actually FEELING that nervous system fear, walking ourselves through it without looking for what’s ‘wrong’ with ‘us’ that this seemingly GOOD THING is so scary for us, and then being present to the NEW reality. Reparenting the child that is driving the car right now. Over and over again. Making it not our fault. Validating the trauma that happened in our childhoods that got programmed into our nervous systems as TRUTH - and then re-wiring through new experience really taken in from the vantage point of that scared child.
We don’t learn new ways intellectually, we learn them physically.
Thus with asking for help as an example, the real question here is what was my experience of asking for help as a small child? Was I ridiculed? Abandoned? Shamed? Told there was something wrong with ME in my struggles? Was I treated like I was less than when I needed help? What was my EXPERIENCE with asking for help that TAUGHT ME that NOT ASKING was the SAFEST thing to do? This is the self inquiry I'm doing and I am seeing that it is very REAL that my system got trained that asking for help led to me getting abandoned and traumatized, so that inner child still wants to protect me from the pain of that. THAT’S why I fear it.
In order to re-train my physiology to actually be able to reach out for help, I first have it make it SAFE that I NEVER DO. I have to validate that inner child's lived experience of asking for help = harm. I must love that part of me that learned that it wasn't safe to ask for help, and I must give this part of me ROOM to not ask for help and be LOVED by me.
Then, when they feel ready to take the 'risk' of asking for help, the next step is how I APPROACH MYSELF as I ask for help from others. In this act, I am being given the opportunity to BE THERE with my traumatized inner child. If I ask for help and am again rejected or denied - it is then MY job to really BE THERE for the traumatized inner child part of me that is going to feel re-traumatized. I need to be there to comfort me, soothe me, provide for me and be that good parent I didn't have as a biological child. I have to make it SAFE to be rejected/let down by others by proving to my inner child that I can be there for me, that I can still love me and provide for me even when others can't. This makes asking for help less scary - because I am no longer in the FULL child perspective that if this other person lets me down, I am alone and helpless. Showing my inner child that I am now a capable adult - that being abandoned or rejected in my adulthood is a very different experience than being abandoned or rejected in my childhood. This makes asking for help less scary even IF the other lets me down, because I am showing my inner self that I have autonomy and power now where I didn't before. That I can be there for me in ways I couldn't be there for myself as a child.
Next, if I ask for help and I am actually helped - I must take time to really INTEGRATE that new experience. My brain and body will want to 'write it off.' Forget about it. Down play it. Amplifying the times where I was rejected and abandoned and minimizing the times where I was helped - again as a protective mechanism to help me NOT ask for help and thus risk the pain. When I take time to really FEEL the fact that I was helped, to really GROUND into the REALITY of another person genuinely caring for and helping me, again I SHOW my traumatized inner child that their past reality is no longer their current reality. I make space for myself to really EMBODY - orienting myself into the present moment, getting into my feelings, and then actively FOCUSING on the fact that I was just helped and cared for. I let myself INTEGRATE that experience on a NERVOUS SYSTEM LEVEL by FEELING it, not just thinking about it.
The more I repeat the above steps, the more empowered I feel in general - making asking for help and risking not getting it less and less of a threat, and the more I reinforce the idea that help is available now where it may not have been before. This takes time and repetition - but it's the way to wire new stories into the body so that asking for help becomes something that feels safe and natural.
It may be helpful on this path of healing/integration for us to switch from looking at what’s ‘lacking’ with us that we do what we are doing (I don’t love myself enough, I don’t have enough self discipline…) to asking ‘what happened in my experience to teach me and my nervous system that this way of behaving is the SAFEST thing I can do for myself? Even if I am literally killing myself, I am doing so as an act of self preservation - I see annihilation of me as the only escape from my current suffering.
This gentle approach that comes from seeing that there is nothing lacking in us, but that we are RESPONDING to how we were programmed in our childhoods may help us see what’s REALLY going on for us, and how we can support ourselves in those new behaviors moving forward that DOESN’T get us caught in another loop of endless ‘self improvement’ covered up as self love.