I was recently blocked from an Instagram post, where I took the time and diligence to speak to the many facets of self-love, especially what’s being portrayed lately in the fashion industry. This stirred feelings of a journey I have been on most of my life. I was an obese child who would wake up at 6am at aged eight to sneak into the basement while the rest of my family slept, to jog, do push-ups and jumping jacks. I was the obese child who was teased throughout school. By the time I reached high school, my bullies would make passes at me as a cruel joke. I became obsessed with my food (or the lack thereof) which developed into eating disorders that pushed me into strenuous exercises, to the point I became an unhealthy size 5. These life experiences were a blessing in disguise because they pushed me to internally seek the true aspect of self-love.
Having lived this life I can honestly say I am in no means into fat shaming, it is not in my vocabulary, however the inner workings of how to truly love yourself is! I have been in the depths of self-hatred, self-mutilation, drug use, food addiction, cigarettes, depression, complex PTSD, anxiety – you name it, I had it! Yes HAD it! I have overcome everything and all through mindful practice and inner authenticity. Spirituality has been the path to true inner freedom where I have removed the shackles of self-hatred in all forms!
Weight is a touchy subject, but I know I can speak to it because of my experience. I have been anywhere from a size 5 to a size 22 to a size 12 where I currently sit and maintained for the last few years. I am also a vegan. Now, I didn’t just wake up, have an epiphany and hallelujah I was healed! Self-love takes inner work, perseverance, courage, time, and loving and accepting the body we are in right now in this present moment.
I say own your sexy self! Pull that sexual energy from deep within and allow it to shine. Own it. Express it. Put lipstick on it. If that means dressing the way you want, and walking an America’s Next Top Model strut down the street? Hell ya! Go for it! That is truly one aspect of expressing self-love. Like everything else there is also a ‘but.’ There is a small secret that I’m about to share. This is the inner workings of the ego, the trickster to keep stagnation at the forefront! This is the attachment ego creates when we have found a new sense of self-love and self-expression!
When we finally own our sexiness, it’s empowering and beautiful! Oh what freedom to dress without second guessing ourselves! It opens a whole new world! Then that bloody ego pops in, to form an identity around this new found freedom. The ego comes in the back door and whispers, ‘you’re perfect just the way you are.’ YES! It whispers the truth! We are all perfect and beautiful just the way we are, but are we healthy?
You see the ego tells you what you want to hear, because it wants to keep this new found identity and to withhold the truth of real self-love. You see the ego starts with self-hatred. We realize this, we gain awareness around negative thinking and make a decision to put a stop to it! Our ego then breaks! It’s like an elastic band, it stretches, and snaps allowing freedom and truth to align for only a short time. When the ego breaks, it repairs itself fairly quickly because it doesn’t want to die, so it becomes tricky to reattach. It’s like a parasite. We just can’t get rid of it. How do we overcome this? It’s with self-kindness and the courage to really, truly face ourselves without buying into our defensive reactions when truth comes knocking at our door.
That one question we can all ask ourselves is, are we at our optimal healthy self? If we don’t have health we don’t have life. That’s the hard truth we all need to look at. We all have work to do, and that’s the beauty of being alive on this planet, because we can share various experiences and perspectives. Once we let go of the defensive ego reactions and take the courage to truly look at what’s coming into our vibration, this will bring more heightened self-awareness! If we continue to become defensive we continue to feed the ego, enforcing its attachment to the new identity. This leaves no room for continual growth or self-love.
Here’s a good question to ask yourself. Do your feelings get hurt, or do you become defensive because of what someone says about your appearance, body, intellect, or how you identify yourself as a person? I’m here to tell you that is the ego. WOW! I know that’s a hard one to swallow. The ego will bring up all sort of stories after reading that sentence, I promise! Simply become aware of the thoughts running through you at this moment, don’t buy into them, simply notice. This is self-actualization!
True self-love knows thyself so authentically, it is so deeply connected to the soul. It has no room for ego, and no room for defending a false identity when the heart knows the truth! True self love radiates from within and shines so brightly! That my friends is true self-awareness. Hurt feelings? That’s fine! Hurt feelings can be used as an indication tool that there’s more work to do. Guess what? We all have work to do! So get on with it! Go back to the drawing board and get real with ourselves, again, and again. Why am I hurt? Why am I upset? Am I self-shaming? Seek within for the answers, they will eventually surface. Hurt feelings don’t identify us! It identifies the ego! We must all continue to chip away, break the ties of the ego that bind our true freedom, and have the courage to self-improve in every aspect of our lives.
The secret is to never get stuck in the present moment! What I mean by this is we can most definitely be self-loving and accepting, but there is an aspect of love we all tend to turn a blind eye to, and that’s tough love. Tough love shoves truth down our throats, shining the light in all the dark crevices we hide from. It’s painful! Yes it hurts and brings up all the past traumas and feelings we had growing up. No it isn’t fun! This is where true courage comes in. Can we sit in the dawn of this revelation? Can we humbly accept our truest, deepest faults, the excuses and lies we tell ourselves to uphold an identity we have created? True self-love is to be gentle with ourselves with kindness, to look at ourselves with honesty, and to ask ourselves those hard questions and answer with authenticity. For instance, when I quit smoking, I would sit in the moment, and bring attention to my body. I asked my body within how it felt while I was sucking back the smoky chemicals into my lungs. My body always responded with nausea, or an uneasy feeling within. I would then simply sit in that feeling and honor it, hearing it, because it’s not bad, it’s simply how my body feels.
We have disconnected this communication and it’s time we start listening to how our body feels on the inside. This is becoming mindful. We don’t have to feel shame, it’s natural for our bodies to express to our soul how it’s feeling, we simply have to keep an awareness to the messages, hear them, and make small changes to honor our temple. It’s a journey for sure, but its all small steps and small changes. So what if we fail? It’s like riding a bike. We just get back up, and keep going! Continuously ask your body, ‘how does this feel now?’ I promise, if you are seeking within and opening a channel from your heart to your body, when you ask a question you will always get a response. Don’t judge the response, simply hear it, acknowledge it and love it! Then make those small changes to honor your temple! I did the same thing with food. Becoming aware of our physical temple while we are putting anything into our mouths is self-love. We will receive the answers, but it’s up to us to truly listen.
Never stop! Keep going! We don’t lack because we have work to do. We lack when we do nothing about it and become defensive! If we want whole, authentic, pure and true self love, it’s going to take self-actualization, tough love, and the desire for self-improvement! We can then truly empower others! It’s in you and you are ready for it!
I know this because you read this entire article!
© Rena Wells 2015
Rena Wells is a resident columnist here at Being through balance and bliss.
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