Tag Archives: learning to love self

Beauty in the Broken Shell: Self-Love, Self-Acceptance, and Late-Night Nachos

I found this shell on the beach today. Perfect in its flawed, worn and broken beauty. This shell isn’t looking in the mirror and wishing it were younger, less worn. It’s not regretting the tides that dragged it. It’s just itself, as it is. Enough. 

It’s been an interesting year for self-revelation. An exhausting one, too. Lately it’s insight after insight, and it gets pretty tiring. Some days you just want to sit on the couch and eat nachos, rather than understand WHY you are sitting on the couch eating nachos. Can’t the nachos just be nachos? Alas, even a nacho is an opportunity for a life lesson, it seems.

Lately I’m thinking a lot about positive self-image (you might remember this post). Self-acceptance. Self-love. It’s taken me a while, but it’s pretty clear to me now that I have programmed myself to be a “good girl”- to be the favorite, the smartest, the best at whatever it is I want to do. I’m competing, in a silent, miserable way, with an unattainable ideal.

No, this isn’t really news- I’ve always been, as my husband says, a “try-hard.” But it feels like news to me now, as I navigate some larger life changes, and am faced with my own behaviors. Here’s my (hidden) motivation: I am afraid not to be the best. I am afraid to take a day off. I’m afraid that if I am not engaging with life 100%, I am not winning, and I will have to face the fact that I am not good enough.

And when I sit down, exhausted, at the end of the day, alone with the emptiness of my self, and the feeling that I didn’t DO enough today (make enough money, please enough people, burn enough calories, etc., etc.)- I actively avoid facing how I’m really feeling. I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality, and I am good at busying myself with varying compulsive behaviors. Sometimes it’s more work-type behavior- making lists, creating a financial plan for myself, worrying in one form or another.  The activities have changed over the years- at one time I was a great smoker, video-game player. Most recently, I’m a great eater- that’s where the nachos came in.

One of my friends and teachers, Christopher Baxter of InnerSky Yoga, gave a lovely workshop last week on The Yoga of the Subtle Body. As part of the practice, he guided us through a meditation in which we asked ourselves: What do I long for?

For peace, I thought. From self-loathing. From self-defeating. From the divisive behaviors that catch me up like a wheel. To feel whole, as a person, and not flawed, or lacking. To love myself completely. And then I saw it all so clearly- the ways in which I’ve designed my life so that I never really have to deal with this raw and painful lack in myself. In fact, as I sat and meditated on my own lack of self-acceptance, my mind quickly went to work to try to “fix” the situation- suggesting, among other things, weight loss, a haircut, and more hours teaching. Ahhh, mind. So clever in your sabotage.

I’m happy to report, however, that I am making changes. Working less. Letting go more. Bringing {maybe just a little bit more} awareness to what I do and why I do it, especially during those dangerous late hours when the Halloween candy is oh-so-accessible.

Please don’t misunderstand me, friends. I am, today, happier than I have ever been in my life.  I’m free of my depression- which has haunted me since grade school, requiring medication and therapy, causing broken glass, broken relationships, and countless missed days of work, play, and life. Yet now, with each step I take into more mindful, joyful living, I continue to trip over, and then rip away, the hanging shreds of the unhealthy, unhappy behaviors that bind us like cartoon mummies. It’s a FREEING feeling- but damnit, it’s EXHAUSTING too.

And (enlightened though I long to be) my ego wouldn’t let me share this vulnerability with you if I didn’t know that I am not alone. That you understand, and recognize, these feelings of inadequacy, of not-loving-yourself. I wish you love and self-compassion on your journey, as I know you wish me on mine. I believe I can accept myself. I believe we can all accept ourselves.

It starts with awareness. Maybe with nachos. And this broken shell I found on the beach.