Hello Lovely 🙂
Over the next three weeks, I want to share my thoughts on two traps that so many get into when it comes to self love. The first trap comes in the form of believing that to love ourselves means to think we are perfect, done and complete in this moment - having nothing left to learn - which then drives us to a state of defending ourselves and abusing others to 'convince' them of our perfection.
The second trap is to believe self love is only allowed once we have 'arrived' at a certain state of perfection, and that we MUST be continually hating, berating, judging, withholding love and on top of ourselves lest we fail to thrive and end up in a state of 'not enoughness' for the rest of our lives.
Both of these mindsets work to keep us stuck on our path.
Let's dive in and see how we go!
You Will Never Be ‘Done’ AND You Are Always Good Enough As You Are
If you have been following my work for a while, you know that my main message, idea, purpose of making all of the content that I make, is to show how you are PERFECT just as you are, right here right now AND that you are meant to be forever changing, growing, learning and evolving.
Meaning that being worthy of love, worthy of acceptance, worthy of unconditionally approving of who you are in this exact moment shouldn’t be dependent on you being any particular way. To be worthy of your own love and approval requires no change. You are worthy of it right here, right now, just as you are.
You don't need fixing, mending, healing, integrating, growth or expansion to be FULLY worthy of love. Everything you are in this moment is enough to make you endlessly worthy of your own approval.
At the same time, in order to be 'alive,' to be a part of life itself, you must be perpetually in a state of flux. As the saying goes, the ONLY thing that is permanent in this life is change - and that's true. There is no stagnation in life - only growth and evolution, integration of what was just learned, or resistance to learning and growth which leads to devolution and destruction.
I share this because most people tend to oscillate between two extremes when it comes to self love or the perception of self love - and both of these extremes cause people to stay stuck or live lives of devolution.
The Two Extremes Of Self Love Avoidance:
Those two extremes that people fall into are the belief that ‘self love’ means to think of yourself as PERFECT and therefore NO GROWTH can occur because that would mean admitting that who and what we were before was inadequate, or the opposite side of the pendulum where we feel that to admit ANY kind of love for the self will keep us caught in whatever we perceive our flaws to be - because we deeply believe that if we are not shaming ourselves we wont ever grow.
The first category is an extremely painful place to be. When we believe that in order to love ourselves we must perceive ourselves as perfect - as being done with growth, change and evolution - we must then become deeply abusive people. People who take on this idea that self love is ONLY available if we are perfect, will propel themselves into a state of perpetual self defense and working to convince the world that everything they are and everything they do is the ultimate. They do this because deep down they KNOW they are not perfect, not whole, not complete but to admit this causes SO much shame and deep feelings of helplessness, thus they turn to convincing the rest of the world that they are perfect. Essentially people who fall into this category will develop a kind of ‘narcissistic’ way of being. With this there is also the FEAR of growth and change because if it were to occur, it would be admitting that there wasn’t perfection before and that would bring massive amounts of shame.
It is through this mindset that we find 'gurus' and abusive leaders in the spiritual and self help worlds. These are people who have gained a following by posturing themselves as being in some sort of transcended state - one in which there could be no flaw in their judgement or opinion.
These people will play on the desires of their followers for a perfect leader, a hope that life can be blissful one day if we just follow the 'instructions' and for a leader to follow blindly. People who are susceptible to leaders who are in a state of narcissistic fantasy are those who deeply WANT someone to tell them what to do to find pure bliss/transcendence from whatever they are facing.
Thus they are willing to believe the guru when they tell them whatever they tell them about their own transcendence even if it is blatantly clear that the guru/teacher/coach is NOT in a state of bliss because they NEED to believe it. The teacher/guru/coach will then be perpetually defending their own perfection, their rightness and superiority over everyone else as a way of running from their own insecurities and lack of true self acceptance.
The followers are so caught in their pain and feel so hopeless that they will turn to anyone who is telling them transcendence is possible - thus setting themselves up for a life of serving a guru who needs their adoration to keep themselves going - and the teacher/guide/coach/guru is running from their own pain and shame so much that they are using the continual praise and acceptance of their followers as fodder t stay out of their own pits of self hate and acknowledgement of their own pain.
At the same time, the followers are going to have a deep lack of self love - they are going to be on the opposite side of the spectrum as the guru - feeling that they are CONSTANTLY inadequate, unworthy, shameful and lacking. They are going to feel that they NEED the love, approval, guidance and instruction that the guru figure offers as a way of making themselves feel good. They will depend upon the teacher/coach/guide telling them that they are on the right path, that they are doing everything correctly, that they are following orders beautifully - because this is to them the only form of love they are able to take in - the form of love that comes from serving someone else. That comes from someone outside of them that they have deemed and authority figure approving of them.
The guide/guru/teacher gets their love from the adoration and commitment of the following, and the following gets their love tank filled from the approval of the teacher/guide/guru.
Only Abuse Is Possible Here:
This creates a system where abuse is the only possible outcome. The leader is going to make mistakes, going to be human, going to have weakness, and generally they are going to find people who deeply SEE that they are not perfect and who start to poke holes in their bubble.
This is where it will be up to the followers to defend them, and to work around any and all cognitive dissonance over the leaders behavior in order to make it 'right' even when it is clearly harmful.
Dissenters will be treated as heretics, they will be swiftly reprimanded or blamed for making the leader/guru 'feel badly' about themselves. They will be cut off from the love and attention of the leader and this will feel DEVASTATING.
The leader will manipulate their followers into defending them at every turn in exchange for more love and approval. They will depend upon their followers for praise and adoration, and will work to create a kind of 'us against them' mentality - with any questioning of their authority the leader will throw themselves into a position of looking like the innocent victim who is being unjustly attacked thus inspiring deeper devotion from their students OR they will out right attack the other and will in so doing 'sic' their followers onto the dissenting voice.
The leader will also then have ultimate authority over everyone - all their followers will look to them as the source of wisdom, knowing, information and guidance and will have a sense that they have something 'special' that the rest of the crowd couldn't possibly ever have in themselves. The teacher/guide/guru will be seen as THE source for wisdom that the followers could never access on their own. THIS portion is KEY. The leader must present themselves as something 'special' so that the followers have a REASON to abandon themselves in order to follow along.
It's a vicious cycle of a human posturing themselves as a perpetual saint/victim that will create a circle of people around them who believe in them so deeply that they are willing to sacrifice their own thoughts, feelings and emotions to follow and defend their leader. As a reward, everyone feels loved. The leader feels loved through the constant assertion that they are perfection and the followers feel loved through the approval and ever present guidance of the leader.
I know this dynamic deeply because I have a lot of experience with it.
I haven't shared much of this yet, and I am going to be doing so more in the future - but the reason I understand the dynamic of the guru/follower complex so well is because I was raised by a narcissistic parent who deeply wanted me to suffer, and I know this inability to stand against 'authority' figures who know how to manipulate those who have a lack in core self love, and use that to their own advantage. I think this is really prevalent in the spiritual/self help world because SO MANY come to this work deeply traumatized and lacking in this core of self love. This breads both the abusers and the abused, and the cycles they stay trapped in together. The abused seek the teacher and the abuse to a degree because they desperately believe they need a leader/teacher to find wisdom, and the abusers need the students to feel that consensus reality/love/approval from being greater than. At the core, the same wound can be found in both. It's just are you addicted to the toxic growth (student mindset) or the toxic refusal to growth (guru mindset).
When we don't grow, we feel this death - and this self hate blocks growth. So we reach for one of the two extremes mentioned above to find that consensus love as a place holder for the feeling of TRUE LOVE which comes from self connection and the growth that results.
The Guru Method Is Not Self Love:
Again, at the end of the day, those who posture themselves in this transcended way are not self loving.
They are in fact DEEPLY self loathing. They are SO ashamed of who they are, that they HAVE to believe - and get everyone around them to believe - that they are in fact perfect, because ANY amount of looking at where they have room to grow to them, means ultimate failure.
These people do not believe they have the capacity to learn and grow. To change. To evolve. They deeply believe that if there is something not right abut them as they are right now, that this is a fatal flaw that can never be remedied.
Thus, their only way of surviving is to build a world around them that supports their ultimate perfection in this moment. To deeply reject any criticism as unfair, too harsh or just plain WRONG in order to protect themselves from their core shame. These people will constantly be in a state of being either drunk on power and praise - dictating the actions and behaviors of everyone around them in ways that serve to fluff up their own image and self esteem or in a state of deep defense/victim mentality if their perfection is ever questioned so as to get their followers to defend them/to get the person who suggested their imperfection to feel that they have gone too far and are the bad guy and should apologize and go back to service immediately.
This dynamic is present EVERYWHERE in our world. It is important to be aware of it and to see it for what it is:
A core self hate wound.
The most important thing we can learn is this sense of 'enoughness' from within - then growth and finding a healthy guide/practitioner relationship - and health in general.
Next week we are going to look at the other side of the coin, the codependent side, and from there we will explore what TRUE self love looks like.
If this message resonates with you, and you want to take a DEEP DIVE into how to rediscover your truth through the trauma of being rejected, you can check out my Mystery School here: https://www.patreon.com/AliyahMS