A couple weeks ago I had a bit of a wake up moment at the DMV, as I sat for hours waiting for my number to be called. Not exactly where I expected to have a moment of transformation…
Truth be told, I’ve been trying to make my way through Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, for over a year. Yes, over a year. When I originally began reading it, I knew the message was exactly what I needed. But it was just too much. I was still trying to get my feet on the ground from our previous year of moving every few months. Life was too much. I just couldn’t receive such a tender message.
But last year, while I held Brene’s book at arms length, I had one of those clarity moments in the shower where you Just. Can’t. Shake. It.
The cruel internal dialogue was deafening that day.
If I don’t get rid of this negative voice, it will deeply affect my kids… it is crushing me.
But why would this voice ever go away if I’m not doing anything differently to make it disappear?
At that very moment I heard a still, small voice say: You need to go on a radical journey of self-love…
But here’s thing: I didn’t’ have a CLUE what a “radical journey of self-love” even meant, let alone looked like.
Over time I doubted what I heard.
The concept of “self-love” seemed a little overly indulgent to have been from God, right? Surely I should edit what I thought I heard… shouldn’t it be a “radical journey of God’s deep love”?
I didn’t put a whole lot of extra effort into figuring out what this self-love journey was supposed to be about. It felt confounding to me in the midst of caring for three kids, one being an infant. But I did pursue healing the layers of shame I knew existed for me, in the ways I knew how: through counseling, journaling and writing.
But then… almost a year later… at the DMV, I read Brene’s words and it gave me chills.
“We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
She had my attention.
I have exorbitant amounts of love and grace.
For everyone else…
And then that word, self-love, jumped off the page at me:
“Over and over, I heard the idea of self-love as a prerequisite to loving others, and I hated it. Sometimes it’s so much easier to love Steve and the kids than it is to love myself. It’s so much easier to accept their quirks and eccentricities than it is to practice self-love around what I see as my deep flaws. But in practicing self-love over the past couple of years. I can say that it has immeasurably deepened my relationships with the people I love. It’s given me the courage to show up and be vulnerable in new ways, and that’s what love is all about.” – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
This feels like a generous invitation into those next steps in the self-love journey.
I want to love myself better. I want to give myself grace and be a beloved friend to myself. I want to pour life and abundant love into myself in order to open myself up to be able to love others more wildly and deeply. I want to silence my internal bully and make space to hear what my internal tender voice might say to me.
And I think THIS is where finding my voice and healing my shame just might meet…
That true, wild and beautiful voice inside, whose been silenced, might NOT actually sound like that cruel, incriminating accuser…
She might actually be gracious, tender and understanding.
And I think she might have something to say…
So this is what I’m inviting myself to do this year: I’m going to practice real self-love. I am going to write a letter to myself each week. Maybe it will be short, maybe long. But I want to write something. And I want to write to myself as I would respond to a friend who has vulnerably shared about how her week really went. Encouragement, empathy and overwhelming grace is what I offer my friends and family. So why wouldn’t I offer it to myself?
I’ve got to believe, through practice, we can change our internal dialogue from harshness to heartbreak, from bullying to befriending, from not enough to more than enough.
I’ll be sharing my letters here on my blog. And, who knows, maybe you’ll want to join me in writing to yourself tenderly too?
***There are many voices of inspiration in regard to these topics of shame, being kind to yourself, and finding your voice. I encourage you to read more from all of these inspirational ladies: Brene Brown, Glennon Melton, Leeana Tankersley