You ever get the feeling that self-love is one of the most complicated practices to engage in? When I think about women like Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou and Anaïs Nin, I get all riled up about my right to love myself without guilt. But then life happens, and I find that many of my efforts to embody self-love (and consequently, self-expression) can be far more theory and far less practice.
How do you practice self-love? And more importantly, how do you know when you’re straying away from that space?
These types of questions haunt the shit out of my quiet time, and so I write. I write to access what I need, and to share it with you, in case these questions haunt you too.
What follows is an excerpt from Radical Self-Expression Manifesto. I read it as soon as I woke up today, and I offer it to you now with the intention of creating an access point for dialogue between you and YOU about how you want to feel, and how you might further practice self-love.
I kept hearing that self–acceptance was the key to self–love, but every time I’d put that in my mouth to taste it, I’d come back with the same result; It was sour and it lacked seasoning. The same two questions kept showing up in front of my potential to heal and to love myself right where I was:
How can I love what I do not really know?
And why would I accept what I am not sure is mine at all?
I had spent so much time fighting for myself that I’d assumed it was because I loved myself, and because I wanted to be happy and to be free. But as my battles continued, whether I won them or lost them, I grew into someone different than the one I was fighting for.
And once that version of me, the survivor, was ready to shift from survivor to Thrivist, she needed distance between herself and the feelings associated with the circumstances that had once held her captive. I needed to stop comparing my current life to my past life and release the tethers, so that I could fully embrace myself in the current moment.
These moments that comprise my life are now about getting to know who I have become, and being a more active participant in my own joy. This is my affirmation.
And if I was to pull self–love down off the high shelf of nebulous woowoodom, and into something I could actually use, then I had to explore my own patterns and tendencies, and use the observation of those realities—coupled with the prioritization of my desired feelings and experiences—to learn about myself and to create the distance I could use to realize self–love.