This morning, I woke up at 6am and hopped in the shower to get ready for Jonathan Fields. He was interviewing me for his Good Life Project, and after a green juice and an iced soy mocha, I was raring to go.
I love doing in-person interviews because they are so much more real than anything text-based. With an email inteview, I can go back and rework and refine my answers until they sound like perfect little soundbites; in-person you have no such opportunity. Whatever comes out of your mouth is what will be heard, for better or for worse.
Jonathan is a sweetheart. We were laughing and having a great time perched on our matching chairs. And then Jonathan asked me about radical self love: where did the idea come from, and how has it evolved?
And I just couldn’t stop myself. As I explained it, a feeling of deep-seated anger swelled up inside me.
“As happy as I am to have stumbled upon something that women need,” I started, “It makes me really SAD. It hurts my heart to know that self-love is so desperately missing from our lives that we have to go out and educate ourselves about it; that we have to LEARN to love ourselves.” I took a breath. “Why are we not taught this in schools? It’s a fucking travesty that we’re taught sex ed but nothing about how to take care of or nourish ourselves. It’s so wrong. It makes me so angry.”
(I’m paraphrasing, of course. Rage makes me a little incoherent.)
I was surprised by my reaction. After all, I’ve been talking about radical self love for years, and not just online: I’ve spoken at venues as wide-ranging as Carnegie Mellon University and high schools in New Zealand. Often, I talk about the statistics: the number of women who stay in abusive relationships, or the percentage of women who believe they’re beautiful (4%).
But this morning, I was reawakened by my own anger and sense of conviction.
“The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off.” (Gloria Steinem)
After all this time, I still can’t believe that self-love is something we’re expected to somehow magically discover for ourselves. It makes me crazy with rage and frustration. The number of women I’ve met who have never had an orgasm, who prioritise their looks above everything else, or who see women as enemies rather than allies, is a crying shame.
The thought of it makes me froth with seething and sorrow, but it also fills me to the brim with vast hope. I don’t plan on having children, but maybe you’ll tell your daughter about something I wrote. Maybe your own experiences with body image will inspire you to teach your niece to love herself more. The thought that the next generation of women could be strides ahead of us in this arena softens the edges of my sometimes stormy soul.
I don’t have all the answers, but radical self love — in all its guises, from style to spirituality, and lovers to life choices — is my cause. It’s my mission. For as long as I live, I want to show women that they have options; that pursuing their passions should be the rule, not the exception. I want to keep telling you about the things I’ve discovered that have helped me.
If you’re grappling with feeling not-good-enough, struggling with your body and suffering from a lack of self-love, I would always recommend traditional therapy or counselling. But therapy alone is probably not going to solve all your problems. Growing into ourselves and learning to become comfortable with who we are is an ongoing process, one which requires a lot of energy and attention.
Maybe, like me, you will have revolutionary breakthroughs using EFT. You might find solace in reflexology and Crossfit, or soothe your soul with meditation. Yoga could be the right way to reconnect with your body, while CBT might help you plow through your limiting beliefs.
There is no golden ticket. It’s likely that you will stumble upon a combination of techniques which teach you how to make sense of your emotions. Hopefully this will allow you to enjoy life, rather than perpetually feeling like a passenger on a runaway roller-coaster.
Whatever method(s) you use, just know that you are not alone. We are all wrestling with sadness, confusion, loneliness and apathy. We all feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. We all have pieces of our psyche that are fractured and poking through the skin.
We hope that one day we’ll wake up and the fog will lift, but the reality is that we have to learn how to generate our own light.
I am evolving too. I have come a long way since I started on my transformation in 2006, and I am so thankful for that! My life isn’t perfect, but I can say that I am happy; that I am delighted more often than I am despondent; that I don’t want for much.
As one of my dearest friends said to me recently, “What more can you want from life? To be perfectly happy where you are.”
I love you, and I hope you love you, too,