I’m sorry I didn’t love you enough
I once had the pleasure of listening to one of the UK’s top therapists do a talk. She was therapist to many famous people and although alluded to who they might be (he was living in LA, miserable and had always struggled with his weight….), was unable to share their names for obvious reasons. She said something which has stuck with me ever since and I’ve seen it show itself to me time and time again with coaching and acupuncture clients. More personal than that, I recognise it in my own journey, like the monster that was there all the time but I couldn’t see it!
She said that the number one challenge people bring to therapy is a feeling of ‘not being good enough’, and ‘not feeling loved’ as a result. She said it was the number one factor of misery in the western world.
I remember thinking thank god that’s not me… and soon after I would realise it was me. I remember the summer just before I was doing my NLP practitioner training in Spain in a yoga retreat set into the mountains. It was simple living, idyllic, healthy nourishing foods, exercise for the brain, we were digging around in our pain using the tools we’d been taught. The venue was run by two friends Bill and Deirdre. Bill was something of a spiritual dude and liked to share his wisdom, as well as stories of mischief. At the end of the week as we were leaving and hugs were being shared, he whispered into my ear, ‘you just need to start loving yourself again Jenny, like really loving yourself’.
As I got in the minibus I remember feeling really fricking angry. What the hell does he mean love myself? Of course I love myself. What’s not to like, I’m kind, considerate, funny, smart… and my brain (ego) went on listing all the reasons I was good enough, loveable. I decided he was talking out of his arse and tried to put it to one side, but just like his mischief, it kept popping into my head and sticking up the V’s laughing at me. I would learn later through my own journey with therapy that he was right. On a deeper level I had never loved myself since I was sexually assualted. Something had left me that night. The love I had for myself. And just after standing in the kitchen telling my parents what had happened I’d decided they wouldn’t be able to love me anymore either. Double whammy. And I believe it’s true what the saying says, if you want someone else to fall in love with you, you have to love yourself first.
It’s been a daily practise since then to introduce love into my life, not the crazy relationship love or love from the external world, or even from my parents (because of course they never stopped loving me), but love in it’s purest sense, the love from me to me. The love that we’re born with, the pure unadulterated, no judgement, just simple beautiful love.
I’ve learnt that to really love myself I’ve had to repattern a few things in my being.
- I’ve had to reconect with what I really need, not what I want, but what I need. To listen to the whispers my body is telling me and honour it which sometimes means ignoring what my head is trying to tell me. This also applies to what I really want in my life. Not what I think I SHOULD have, but what I really want. What will bring me happiness and isn’t about pleasing or impressing anyone else.
- I’ve learnt to be kind to me. We all have that inner voice (the bad sister I call her) that wants to shame me, blame me, give me a hard time, tell me to crack it up a notch, go faster, do more, be better, work harder, sometimes she even calls me a silly twat!!! Not very kind. I’ve learnt through daily practise to become aware of which voice I’m listening to and if bad sister pops up, I dust off wonder woman sister who gently lassoo’s bad sister back in to her box and start talking to myself gently, like I would to my best friend if she was having a tough time.
- I’ve learnt to say no. This has been a tough one for me. Learning to put my needs above everyone elses. It felt selfish to begin with but I recognised there were so many places in my life where I was trying so hard to people please that I wasn’t honouring my own needs. Another demonstration of not loving myself. I’ve noticed that people like and respect me even more for sharing what I want and saying no kindly when it doesn’t suit me.
- I’ve started to follow more of the joy. If there are things in your life that you love doing, start doing them, do them even more. Dancing and singing are my things. In fact anything dramatic and expressive, I love it. I spent my childhood dancing. So now I dance whenever I can and I sing a lot more than I ever did before. It makes me feel good, great even, so why deny myself that joy? Surely that’s punishment? And that’s not very kind.
- This one is a biggie! Learning that other people are not responsible for my happiness, my love. To be loved by others does not equate to loving myself. Just because other people think I’m loveable doesn’t always equate to me knowing it. So often we look to the external, to what others think or do or say to us to work out if we’re lovable. Bad stuff happens and we can tell ourselves we’re not loved. But none of that really matters when we strip it back. What matters is that we look within, to our internal selves. The irony is that love is always within us, we’re far too often preoccupied with looking outside of us, to our external world, to other people to validate us when really none of that matters. So making loving you your priority today.
The final thing I’ve done? Forgive myself.
Its far too easy to blame ourselves when shit happens or to play the victim (poor me, why me, it’s not fair), and you know what life isn’t always fair (shit I really know that first hand!), but it is what it is, and fighting it by being hard on yourself doesn’t help anyone. To love, we need to be able to forgive ourselves for not being perfect, for not getting it right all the time. We will never get it right 100% of the time so lets all stop putting that ridiculous pressure on ourselves.
There is a fantastic hawaiin healing prayer I have come across called the Ho’oponopono prayer. It’s so simple and so moving. The words are simply;
Please forgive me
I love you
(and you keep saying it over and over again until you notice the anxiety/sadness/anger leaving you).
Just this week I noticed some bad sister behaviours creeping in so I decided to stand in front of a mirror and say the prayer, here’s what I said to myself.
‘ I’m sorry I haven’t loved you enough all this time
Please forgive me for not knowing how to love myself enough
Thankyou for always loving me back regardless
I love you now and always will’
I cried a lot and it felt good, really good to forgive myself like that. And let me share that in the past, I might have thought about doing this, but never given myself the permission or time to just stand in front of the mirror in the moment and truly connect with myself. So if you recognise that pattern, why not give yourself permission to give it a go?
Life will always throw out its ups and downs. Learning to be kind to ourselves and to truly love ourselves so that we can show up with more of our own love to offer could just be the difference that makes the difference in the world don’t you think?