I will love myself when _____.

Please take a moment to fill in this blank & use as many bullet points as you need. What conditions do you put on loving yourself?

~~~

I thought I’d love myself when I:

  • became a parent (I only hated myself more)
  • lost 50 lbs (then it became 10 more)
  • found love with a partner (then I still found myself single)
  • completed another race or PR’ed (an endless pursuit of races it then becomes)
  • passed my certification test (no, I then felt shame for the pride in my own accomplishment)
  • reached a certain level of spirituality (then I would raise the bar again)

So now that I’m recognizing many of the “conditions of my parole” and how they’re harming me, I see it’s time to stop the conditional love. It’s now time to bless myself with the grace of my own Agape Love; the same Love, validation and approval that I have spent most of my life seeking from others.

What loving me now means is being my own friend. Eventually I’d like to be my own BFF, yet right now friend is a good place to start. No longer can I avoid withhholding loving myself for all of my “good and bad” bits. Or as Carl Jung says “sensical and non-sensical” parts. 

So now I ask, what will it take for you to love you?

Namaste : the light and shadow in me honor the light and shadow in you. 

This is part of the Own Your Own Shadow Series, an investigation into seeing and integrating all aspects within to recover inner peace. Only with loving ourselves can we be the change we wish to see in this world.

Wisdom by Carl Jung

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. (Ouch!)

A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.

Related Reading:

Owning Your Own Shadow

Romantic Love’s Faulty Mirror

Romantic love can take us through the highest heights and the lowest lows. When in the process of falling in love, what we see in our lover and what s/he sees in us are the reflections of the Divine within the observer – not actually from the lover being observed. 

In other words, what we see in our lover is the projection of our own vision of the Divine onto the lover; and if the love is mutual, we carry that same vision from them. We really are just looking at ourselves, at our highest level, embodied within another person. We can continue this dance only as long as both lovers can submit to the projection of their lovers’ Divinity.

As the fires of passion fade, the new view of the lover becomes the shadow of the observer. So when the passion fades we project our worst parts onto our lover and they often do the same to us. This is when the Romance falters; the high has faded. This can also signal the end of the relationship unless the couple can begin to transcend the Romance by forming a lasting or human love. 

In essence, Romantic love cannot stand the test of time. What we love in the other is what we truly love within ourselves. After this fades, we begin to find fault in the other, as a projection of the things we hate about ourselves. Thus romantic love is just us looking at ourselves in another; the best and the worst.

To transcend this type of love, we must develop a friendship with our lover. As friends accept the best and worst in their friends – as they are, essentially we can avoid both the Divinity and shadow projection of ourselves onto others…as well as their projections onto us.

In my humble opinion, first we must become our own best friends. When we truly love and respect ourselves ~ our highs and lows ~ then we are less likely to project our highs and lows onto others, because we already accept their presence within ourselves. Thus, once we are our own best friends, we can then more easily build friendships with our lovers. 

Somehow Western Love downplays friendship within couples. In fact, romance and friendship are in opposition. Romance is a projection of ourselves onto others whereas friendship is the acceptance of who someone is, as is. Learning to love ourselves can be our greatest mission as well as greatest challenge. 

Some cultures, like the Hindu, have figured out that Divine projection and lasting love do not mix. They honor the Divine form of both genders in art work, ceremonies, statues and celebrations. Couples then do not need to find the divine within their lovers. There is a great freedom in this, for couples accept one another as they are and neither needs to carry the Divinity of the other. Humans can only carry the energy of the Divine for so long. 

While we cannot change our cultural views of Romantic Love overnight, we can begin to open our eyes to the harm of continuing to project our greatness and our darkness onto others, particularly in the area of couples. Perhaps this is why the divorce rate continues to climb? 

Concepts taken from We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert A Johnson 

Additional reading:

Michael at Cream of the Planet in Romantic Love: Hearts on Fire

Owning Your Own Shadow 

Namaste

Love Lessons

Reaching heights unknown

Places unobtainable alone

Immediately feeling at home

~

A lit candle 

Always creates shadows

Chasing away darkness

~

The bright flame

Melts wax, lava

Burns tender flesh

~

Sensitive skin seeks

Respite & reprieve

In shadows unseen

~

The lit candle

Reveals lost pains

Inner child retreats

~

Pleas to slowdown 

Unheard, misunderstood, ignored

The bud obliterated 

~

Love lost yet regained 

Breathing, feeling, allowing

Repleted in the void

~

Perhaps it’s best

To unfold these

Love lessons alone

~

Namaste 

Overcoming Perfectionism

As a child, I often walked on eggshells. Never knowing what the mood would be when I arrived home. To help gain a sense of control over my environment, I learned to be quiet, fly below the radar and be as perfect as I could in every single way.

I did my best at a young age to remove as many of my needs from anyone else’s care. I didn’t want to be a burden nor did I want to be responsible for rocking any boats. As such, I walked a razor’s edge. My self-worth was dependent on how others treated and viewed me. My sandcastle was built on constantly shifting sands “by the sea.”

Now, in my middle-age (such a hard pill to swallow…), I’m choosing to allow my armor to rust. When there is a creative project, I give myself permission to make it ugly…and I’m now allowing my kids to join in my mess making. 

Letting go of the reins in a new way, I’m allowing myself to live in more freedom today. Now that I’m allowing myself to feel human in a new way, I struggle with the system. Last week I made an oversight at work (related to a vendor, not a patient) and I am having some difficulty because of it. I feel I’ve disappointed my supervisor.

Add to this that I’ve started dating again. It’s hard to date and not make mistakes nor be hurt. It’s much harder for me, however, to feel I’ve disappointed someone else. That was the worst thing my parents could ever say to me, “Tiffany, we are disappointed in you.”

This fear of disappointment is the fuel to the fire of Perfectionism for me. Releasing the need to be perfect, on new levels, allows me to be more secure in me.

Namaste

Honoring the Virgin & Vixen Within

All systems seek balance including our inner and outer selves. We often become unbalanced when we suppress the expression of our hidden, or shadow, aspects. This suppression is learned during the process of being raised, as we are taught to deny parts of ourselves to fit into society. We cut ourselves off from our truest expression of self as a sacrifice for the safety of others (imagine society if everyone acted on every urge felt). However, the complete suppression of our shadows creates an imbalance in our lives until we choose to look within and honor these hidden aspects; even if only symbolically. This series will be about returning to a place of balance within by uncovering our hidden and at times golden facets.

Background

Based on the work of Carl Jung, each person is a microcosm and thus represents each aspect of the macrocosm. Rumi reflects this in his quote, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” In other words, each of us contains all aspects of the whole, we are NOT parts of the whole…instead we are whole. The reason each of us has a different persona (personality) with requisite shadows (hidden aspects), is that we each have the same archetypes (personality traits) yet in different proportions. 

To heal and become whole, it is imperative that we accept and allow each aspect of our personas and shadows to express themselves; even if only privately. As such, this does NOT necessarily mean that we act on each impulse. Instead, we can allow for the unique expression of our aspects through techniques such as active imagination, dreams, fantasy, and creative projects such as writing, painting, sculpting, dancing and acting. These are examples of how we can honor the aspects of ourselves that each need a voice and unique vehicle of expression.

Robert A. Johnson, psychologist and Jungian analyst, states that ego cannot tell the difference between fanstasies/dreams and reality. To the ego, all is reality. This reminds me of a conversation in The Matrix between Morpheus and Neo:

Morpheus: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? 

Enter the Virgin (pun intentional)

Yesterday, in seeing my resistance to and desire to slow down and control the pace at which sex was being introduced into a new relationship, I saw where I have not honored the virgin aspect of myself. Today, I am sorting through ways that I can honor her. She is part of who I am regardless of how much I may want to be able to express myself as a vixen, without honoring the Virgin I cannot fully access the Vixen within.

There may be many reasons that the Virgin aspect is stronger for me than many of my same-aged counterparts. Years of sexual abuse, the “Church of Christ” influences in my household growing up (think Southern Baptist plus a standard deviation or two to the right), and even my birth sign of Virgo – which was named after the Virgin Mary whose birthday fell within the Virgo timeframe. 

I find that when I feel rushed into sex that my body is slow to respond and does what it can to block the process. It can be frustrating for me and now I see a path of potential healing. Now to find how I can honor this aspect of myself. For to continue to fight against her is not helpful. In general, the more I am pushed, just like a river, the more I push back; even and especially against myself. One cannot kick a tree without it kicking back. 

Reflection

What aspects of yourself do you find you fight against? What are some ways that you can honor this part of yourself in healthy and non-harmful ways? The word holy reflects the wholeness (completedness) that we each wish to have, for it is in accepting ourselves completely and wholly (holy) that we regain access to our own happiness and inner peace. 

Pressing Deeper

In the book pictured below, Johnson speaks to the synthesis of our extremes to bring about the ability to rise above duality. It is, it seems to indicate, the path to enlightenment to allow each aspect of ourselves to exist – even if it means at the extremes. To disqualify any aspect of ourselves also disqualifies that aspect in others. We then project our judgments and insecurities outwardly onto others. Our lack of individual inner peace is then reflected in the collective. To heal the world, it is imperative that we become the change we wish to see. 

Namaste 

Balancing the Edges: Creation & Destruction

All systems seek balance including our inner and outer selves. We often become unbalanced when we suppress the expression of our hidden, or shadow, aspects. This suppression is learned during the process of being raised, as we are taught to deny parts of ourselves to fit into society. We cut ourselves off from our truest expression of self as a sacrifice for the safety of others (imagine society if everyone acted on every urge felt). However, the complete suppression of our shadows creates an imbalance in our lives until we choose to look within and honor these hidden aspects; even if only symbolically. This is the first in a series about returning to a place of balance within by uncovering our hidden and at times golden facets.

Once the match is struck, it creates a flame which results in its own destruction. To create is to destroy. While I have posted about this topic repeatedly, even this week with the Necessity of a Broken Heart, today I have a new perspective to share.

For a new wave to be formed, the old one must crash. To build a new house or road, the land must first be cleared. To create a new thought, we must destroy the old beliefs. To create a new life, we must allow the old life to die. The maiden must die before she becomes a wife. I could list different things all day that follow this cycle and the possibilities are endless, yet to create such a list would destroy the point of this post. (smiling).

We can see these examples of creation coupled with destruction in the external world when we allow ourselves the sight to do so. For instance, when we watch the news we see where the world seems to be caving in on itself. Yet, so few of us see within ourselves how this is merely a reflection of our own inner desires for destruction. When we can allow our inner world to balance these two halves – without shame or judgement – then we can begin to be whole and complete – finding the keys to our true inner peace.

A beautiful wave crests just prior to its destruction, yet the water flows back to the ocean to create a new wave. In the process of creating new shoreline, something else must be destroyed.

When we fight our dark urges we give them more strength to control us. However, when we allow ourselves without judgement to have dark and “negative” or culturally unacceptable feelings – instead of blocking them or acting them out – then we can free ourselves from this burden of right or wrong. Accepting that the path of creativity also means that we destroy something, even if only in our minds, or even if only symbolically, then we can free the edges of our psyche to co-exist and we can move beyond duality. Balance is then restored and we come to a place of peace, even if it is briefly held as if “on the head of a pin.”
Some creative ways that we can get our destructive fixes: meditate and walk through our “dark sides,” write a story where everyone dies, paint (destroy the canvas with acrylics), sculpt, Dream and even daydream. These activities diffuse the ticking time-bomb within: when we allow them to be as they are – keys of free expression of our dark sides – we free ourselves and become the whole we are meant to be.

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Superheroes Needs Super Villains. The Movie ‘Unbreakable’ is a beautiful explanation of this need for balance.


When we block the destructive side of ourselves it just wells up within. Then we take it out on others through road rage, passive-aggressive behaviors, or maybe even directly abusing others. So much of the world makes sense now from this perspective. Look at all of the examples of “great real life heroes” who commit acts of atrocity.

From this vantage point, we can now see how great societies fell: when their destructive mechanisms outgrew their creative ones. I can now see how many serial killers were also sometimes model citizens. Ted Bundy, for instance, volunteered at a suicide hotline and talked people out of killing themselves. Yet had no problem brutally raping and murdering brunette college-aged women. Now I can understand my own fascination with war, war machines, and serial killers, of all things… This may be scratching the surface of BDSM as well.

This new awareness has shed so much light for me. I now see why I can be so patient and calm with clients and then short-tempered later. If someone cuts me off in traffic I thoroughly enjoy cussing like a sailor as it helps me to release that darker side of me. I have also seen how health care workers and other service providers have the darkest senses of humor. Yes, that absolutely includes me!

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So often the greatest artists destroy themselves with their nihilism. To create so beautifully, there is a requisite balance of destruction that must occur. Not understanding this, many artists destroy themselves. Perhaps as more artists embrace their darkness, fewer will die from their self-destructive behaviors. Special thoughts to: Jim Morrison, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Van Gogh, Whitney Houston, Kurt Cobain. 

It is now my belief that mystery schools and societies understand this need for destruction. Many believe Masons are devil worshipers. I never understood this, especially since my grandfather was one. He was one of the kindest & most gregarious men in my life. Perhaps this is why there is so much secrecy about what Masons do: men acting out their need to destroy can be highly misconstrued by the passer-by.

Each of these examples is seeking balance. By telling off-color jokes, cussing at other drivers and, at least mentally, indulging in dark sexual fantasies, I am finding balance in my own ways. This also explains phenomena such as “preacher’s kids.” Now I can even understand why for the past two weeks my children have been acting out so much at school. I had been blocking many of my darker thoughts lately. Now to dive in and free my children from finding the balance I was unwilling to find within.

So please, allow your darkness to express itself within you or at least in ways that allow you to release without harming yourself or others. Finding creative ways to express the need to destroy is a way of creating a controlled burn instead of having wild fires sweep through your  life. As I continue to understand this concept better, I will write more. 

The light & darkness within me honor the light & darkness within you.


The Lady of the Water

Images: google