Learning To Love Yourself: Even Your Ugly Parts
Does that title make you cringe? It made me cringe when it popped into my head a few days ago.
We don't like to think about our "ugly parts," do we? By ugly parts of course I mean those aspects of ourselves we perceive to be less than perfect. For some it might be physical flaws, like acne, jiggly thighs or a persistent pot belly no matter how many hours we spend in the gym. For others there may be emotional issues like fears, phobias or low self-esteem.
One lesson I keep having to learn over and over in my own life is that the more I resist these aspects of myself, the more I hate them and push them away and try to ignore them, the bigger and more dominant they become. My resistance gives them power over me.
What if we stopped pushing away these aspects of ourselves? What if we (gasp!) accepted them, loved them, embraced them? What happens to them?
For most of my adult life, I've been a cat owner (or I should say, they owned me). Several of them were strays when I took them in, and they were in terrible shape. Covered in fleas, worm infestations, coat and eyes dull. Part of it was their physical health and lack of proper diet, which I remedied over the following weeks. But on a deeper level, these animals were starving for love and affection. I eased that too, by petting them, talking to them, conveying with and without words that they mattered, they were worthy of being loved deeply and fully. And they responded to that.
As the weeks went by, a light would begin to shine in their eyes. They would become more playful and seem happier and more content. Eventually, they no longer resembled the tattered creatures that had come through my door. They were glowing with life and vitality. Their coats became soft and silky, their eyes were bright and alert and they seemed genuinely at peace. Love Transforms. It's as simple as that. Anyone who has loved deeply or has been loved deeply can attest to that.
So how does that apply to our "ugly parts?" What would happen if we loved them and embraced them? Would they transform into something more beautiful? Maybe, maybe not. Those parts of ourselves may exist for a reason, and we may not be able to change them. However, if we can't transform those, maybe we can still transform our perception of them. They will no longer appear "ugly" to us. They simply become one small aspect of our total selves. These individual aspects are not good or bad, they just are.
Loathing certain parts of ourselves is like refusing to look at a rainbow because we don't like the color green. If you like the other colors, you can accept the green at least, right? A rainbow wouldn't be complete without the color green. If we are to accept ourselves, we need to accept ALL parts of ourselves. Some of them we may be able to improve over time, and others we might not. And that's okay.
The important thing is to become at peace with ourselves, rather than fighting these ridiculous battles day after day. We need to embrace ourselves, nurture ourselves and love ourselves. In doing so, we will be transformed, on one level or another.