Updated: Apr 5
What is it about practicing self-love that is so daunting? Is it really that hard to do? Unfortunately, society sends us mixed messages about self-care and love. We may hear, or read a lot about the benefits and importance of loving ourselves, but we also know people in our lives can be threatened by this, especially if they are seeing something new in our behavior. A behavior shift often impacts the balance of a relationship, which can lead to several other changes as well. And while this rebalancing may be much needed, and may even contribute to a healthier relationship long-term, the process can also trigger fear and worry. As my therapist says, “even good change can be stressful.”
In many relationships this growth is ultimately embraced and contributes to long-term strength and resilience. Conversely, as a divorce coach, I often see clients where Partner A feels they have grown or changed in a way that is no longer compatible with Partner B. Partner A realizes they want something different, but Partner B can feel like the change train came out of nowhere, knocked them on their ass and is now leaving the station while they’re still trying to dust off. For those of us who have been knocked on our asses (and I speak from experience), I believe self-love must be our single area of focus for healing to begin, and it’s incredibly brave to acknowledge this truth. Why? It’s brave because there’s no turning back – you can’t unsee this reality once you open your eyes to it, even if it would be more convenient to believe that happiness is dependent on someone – anyone! other than ourselves. Recognizing that we must learn to care for, and nurture ourselves the way we do for so many others in our lives, can be terrifying. Is it worth the risks? I say, absolutely. When we are brave enough to love ourselves, that same love seeps in and enriches every aspect of our life that truly matters: our relationships with children, partners, family and friends; our ability to set healthy boundaries; the way we cultivate creativity; our ability to enjoy meaningful work; it serves as the foundation of our gratitude, and without a doubt – it is the voice inside that says, “you can get up off your ass,” even when it seems impossible.
I love this Brene Brown quote, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
For me, getting knocked to the ground became a gift, as I learned to love myself and create my amazing, previously unimaginable, Phase 2. Today, self-love translates to these everyday practices: I can evaluate areas for growth without wallowing, I see the future even when the present feels overwhelming, I identify gratitude and abundance every single day, because it gives me perspective.
Don’t misunderstand – I also shut down, second guess myself and wonder what the hell I’m doing on a regular basis. But the harder I work on the list above, the sooner I am able to hear my resilient voice, reminding me I already have everything I need to be whole. I have easier access to perspective that used to allude me.
If you are in the process of divorce, or any challenging transition, pause to recognize and list your strengths. Actually write them down. Make an effort every single day to acknowledge your resilience and your courage. As Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Each day, talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend, and be brave enough to believe her! You will come to rely on that voice as the one that matters most.