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You Can't Hate Yourself Into Changing

I can teach yoga and nervous system regulation until I am blue in the face, and that is such an amazing tool, one that has saved me countless times, and one that I watch changing other people’s lives everyday. But there is one thing that must always come alongside these tools, and that is love.

There is no problem we cannot love ourselves through, and no problem that does not in fact, require this. 

Every time I am stuck, everytime I think there is something I cannot solve, a mountain I cannot summit, an answer I cannot find, the answer is always to love myself more. I have not so far found a problem I cannot love myself out of, or love myself through. Not conditional love, not love that comes when you are winning, when you are attractive and productive and funny. I mean the kindest, softest, most patient love. I mean love when you are messy, when you don’t have the answers (especially when you don’t have the answers), when you are utterly stuck, when you’re the one at fault, when you are grieving, when you are desperate, when you are panicking. Love, no matter what. 

You might think - “But if you love yourself at your worst, how do you become a better person? Don’t you just make excuses for being (lazy, selfish, rude, dramatic, closed-off, whatever it may be that you hate yourself for)?”

And the answer is, no, not at all. In fact, the less I have tried to change myself, and the more I have loved myself in the midst of my messy, the more I have been able to lift away from who I was and become something new. I think this is what it means to become your own best friend. To sit with yourself on your darkest nights and heaviest days, and just to love yourself anyway. 

You cannot hate yourself into changing. You cannot punish yourself into being different. 

And I find myself surprised, shocked actually, that somehow, the answer is always, just love. I find myself insisting there must be some other answer, some psychological trick, some complicated, unfathomable thing that I cannot grasp, that will ‘fix’ me. And every time, it is just loving myself, exactly where I am. I wonder how I could miss it so often - ‘If it’s always the same answer, why do I forget’?

We all know that we should love ourselves - self love has become a trend, a fad, a hot button topic. We all know self love is important. But more often than not, just like me, we forget that it might just be the answer to the very problem we think is in the way of loving ourselves truly.

Sometimes, the answer is, somehow, loving ourselves throughout all the self hatred we feel. Even if it just means saying softly to yourself “I really hate myself right now, and that’s okay. I don’t need to feel guilty about that. That’s what I am feeling right now, and I give myself grace for that.” Maybe the next time, you’ll manage a little less hate, and a little more love. Maybe the time after, you’ll manage, “I really hate myself right now, and that’s okay. I don’t feel guilty about it, and I know I won’t hate myself once I’ve felt this and let it pass. I know I’ll love myself again tomorrow.” 

I think that our lives are like fractals - we cannot see the bigger picture until we are good and ready, and there will always be a bigger picture. To stop trying to find it, to stop trying to improve, to predict, to analyse, to understand, and to instead just release and love yourself during whatever it is that is happening, that is what frees us. 

This isn’t to say that we do not sometimes need outside help, because of course we do. But, it is the love we cultivate slowly but surely, every single day, that will nurture and transform us.

So if you are feeling stuck, confused, overwhelmed, like you must learn and read and attend classes and change yourself to be this version of yourself that you might accept? Start with just loving who you are right now. Because you will always be who you are, right now. Forever. 

You cannot hate yourself into changing, but you can love yourself through your transformations. 

And a final spoiler - the more you love yourself, the more your brain will start revealing to yourself all the secret hidden shames and frustrations you have about yourself, and you’ll have to relearn all over again how to love yourself through all of those too. Self love happens in spirals, in fractals. 

Loving yourself today might look like:

  • I feel so angry right now, and I love myself anyway. My anger is just as lovable as the rest of me.  

  • I feel guilty that I can’t love myself. That’s okay. That’s just where I am at today. I’ll give myself a hug and tell myself that it’s okay to feel guilty. 

  • I don’t feel like I am achieving what I should be, but that doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of my own love.

  • I can understand the reason I responded the way I did, and even though I’m not proud of it, I can offer myself kindness.

  • I give myself grace to feel ashamed/afraid/grief/overwhelmed.

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