We can’t hate ourselves to happy or punish ourselves to health.
Many of the practices we engage in are worthy of introspection—the intent merits examination.
Guzzling green juice in the context of self-loathing, punishing ourselves with exercise in service of some unattainable cultural ideal, eliminating more and more foods from a place of fear and deprivation does not beget healing.
Coming from a place of abdicating our intuition in favor of an external authority figure, of surrendering all of our autonomy to a physician-god, does not healing make.
Constantly denigrating and diminishing ourselves and our inner compass feeds a self-destructive cycle where our motives come from a place of lack, our approaches from a space of scarcity, our mindset from a realm of ineptitude.
I used to berate my body for failing me, my appearance for supposedly not measuring up, my soul for not being what I perceived was worthy.
When we pick ourselves apart with a fine-toothed comb, engage in negative self-talk, or wear our diagnoses like Scarlett letters or even badges of honor, we forget who we truly are beneath the chronic illness—we lose the essence of our spirit—we take for granted that the rain is what creates the flowers in the first place and that we are whole and perfect just as we are.
When we stoke the fires of self-animosity, and perpetuate a psyche of feeling broken—a narrative of bodily betrayal—we can’t expect ourselves to heal.
Instead of focusing on all our bodies do ‘wrong,’ it is time to flip the script and recognize symptoms for what they are: our bodies attempt to protect us, compensatory and adaptive expressions in the pursuit of homeostasis, messages that provide feedback, and attempts to rectify the profound disconnect between the conditions in which our physiology evolved and the circumstances of modernity.
It is time to break with the mainstream and return to the knowledge from ancient medical systems. As articulated in the journal European Molecular Biology,
“Although the understanding that emotions affect physical health dates as far back as the second-century physician Galen and the medieval physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides, modern medicine has largely continued to treat the mind and body as two separate entities” (Brower, 2006).
In other words, intentions, thoughts, belief systems, perceptions, and attitudes matter, especially when it comes to self-image.
My mantra I today in yoga that I repeated in sync with my breath, then, was “inhale self-love, release self-doubt”.
Love can transform our landscapes and color our vision so that we see the world through rose-tinted lenses of gratitude and forgiveness—for ourselves and for others.
It is a magnetic and contagious energy that cannot be contained or limited or suppressed.
It illuminates what matters and reminds us of the insignificance of the extraneous pressures and stresses and sociocultural norms we impose upon ourselves.
It erases our feelings of inadequacy, brokenness, and unworthiness.
It is a beacon of faith, a harbinger of hope, heralding light and openness and ordaining reciprocity and compassion and empathy over fear and repression and animosity.
It is a luminosity and vibrance that is the universal language.
Next time you look yourself in the mirror, envision yourself through the lens of love. Talk to yourself as you would your dearest friend, or a small child, with compassion, empathy, and support.
It is only in the face of the revolutionary acts of unconditional self-love, eternal hope, fostering resilience, and the practices that accompany it that we can expect true healing to emerge.
If you want to heal, you must come from a place of self-love. Love yourself naked, stripped of labels, projections, insecurities, fears, and accolades.
Seek love, embrace love, be love. Love emanates, love resonates, love wins.