Learning to See Ourselves

If I took the unruly mass of my feelings, dropped it in a blender, and pressed, ‘Puree,’ it would likely smash, mush, churn down to only two words:

Love me.

To be loved is the endgame, isn’t it? And inside that love is the glory of being seen, known, understood.

We labor to be loved. The middle schooler straightens her hair so she can belong with the popular girls. The new employee burns the candle at both ends to prove his worth to the boss. The comedian scripts her jokes for the moment when the audience breaks apart in laughter.

But, as the country singers croon, we can go looking for love in all the wrong places.

Of course we hunger to be in the hearts of those around us - that’s human. But what I’m getting at is looking for love not outside, but inside ourselves. Hungering to be in our own heart.

It’s a revolutionary notion in a culture that conditions us out of loving ourselves. We learn we can’t be trusted with a slice of cream pie. We learn we must earn rest, vacation, reprieve. We learn to shame ourselves, berate ourselves, deprive ourselves, be at perpetual war with ourselves.

The saving grace here is that we learn not to love ourselves. We weren’t born with that, like we’re born with a nose or kidneys. And anything we learn, we can unlearn. So let’s begin.

We start where we are. In our sweatpants or hopping on a flight, eating eggs or waiting for a call from the doctor. And we treat ourselves as we would treat a sweet friend.

If that’s hard, the recommendation wise ones offer is to think of ourselves as a little one - our two-year-old self, say.

We speak gently to ourselves. We listen closely to ourselves. We give ourselves enough water, sleep, Vitamin D. And when we forget, we bless the moment we remember again. And we start where we are.

It is the slow work of falling in love with ourselves. Not a blind love. But a love that sees, knows, understands.

And perhaps then, if we took all our feelings, dumped them in a blender, pressed ‘Puree,’ they would smash, mush, churn down to only three words:

I am loved.

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