How to Love Yourself When You Don't Deserve It

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This is something that I don't really want to share, but I am sharing it anyway because I think it's of utmost importance for me to be real. For me to be honest, even about things that make me look like I don't have it together (secret: I don't! Never have.)

I've also been thinking along the lines the Rumi quote, "Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious." And Danielle LaPorte's quote, "Risk being very, very misunderstood." 

I don't want for people to see my dark side. I don't want people to think I've done wrong. It's not safe. It's not reputable.

But... 

I think it's important that people see the way that life brings me to my knees (because we're probably on our knees together) as well as to see how (when we choose to see it that way) Life hands us opportunities over and over again to bring love where there was no love before, sometimes in the most painful ways. 

I'm hoping some will relate to this and find some comfort, and that's why it's worth being vulnerable, open and honest. 

As I wrote this it also felt so incredibly healing for me. Like a weight being lifted. So I also write and share this for me. Because I don't want to cover up. I don't want to lie. I want my inner world to line up with my outer world even if that means destroying my reputation a little bit. 

"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it could look like complete destruction." - Cynthia Occelli 

I messed up pretty bad recently. 

It hurt people. People I know and people I don't know. 

It made me look like a phony. It made me look like I don't stand strong in what I preach. 

It feels awful. 

There are parts of me that want to crawl into a hole. 

This isn't the first time something like this has happened in my life. I've lied. I've cheated. I've hurt people. 

Sometimes we do things that our higher selves would never, ever do.

Now, the question is always: why?

Why do we do things we know are wrong?

Why would we semi-knowingly do something we know has the potential to hurt a person/people?

In the case of my recent experience, I did it because I didn't take the time to stop and feel. Looking back on it, it was really an act of desperation. I got caught up in the deluded story of egoic ambition, 'lack' of time and just straight up carelessness. It felt wrong the whole time but I couldn't be bothered to notice that feeling. I had stuff that needed to get done! So I got it done. 

When we ignore our gut instincts, don't pay attention to the subtle clues, and fall into unconscious patterns we're bound to do things that don't align with our soul. 

I want to be clear about something: I am not a bad person. I am very, very committed to my work and my journey. I may have done many things in my life I am not proud of, but my heart is pure and it longs for belonging and love. I may be confused about how to get those things at times, and my ego may do things that seem obviously wrong to the rational observer, but I know it is all done with the intention of getting love and belonging. 

I believe the same is true for everyone on this planet.

As the Way of Mastery says: "Self-honesty is the greatest act of love." And I am only being honest with myself. 

I preach compassion and forgiveness but what happens when I'm the one who so desperately needs compassion and forgiveness? What about when I want so badly for the person I hurt to see my true heart and how sorry I am, but I hurt them so they're not interested? Guilt. Guilt happens. Overwhelming-gut-wrenching-heart-breaking guilt. 

Now, guilt can be constructive. It can give us a feeling in the moment that lets us know to never do that thing we just did again. When we've done wrong, we need to be aware of it. 

But, as Danielle LaPorte says, "If you can muster some tenderness for yourself when you think you’re at your worst—at precisely the time when you think you deserve criticism or punishment––then you’re on the way to stable self-esteem."

If you did something wrong, own it. Apologize. Do what you can to make amends. In this particular situation, I took complete responsibility. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning doing what I could to fix it. I expressed deep regret. I felt that guilt in the moment. And, I can honestly say it's changed me. I feel grateful for and humbled by the experience.  

Feeling the constructive guilt in the moment teaches our psyche not to do that again. But, we can't follow the story of the guilt ('I'm a bad person', 'I don't deserve love', etc) just FEEL the guilt. Is it a tightness in my chest? A gut punch? Notice the feeling. Make note of it, allow it. 

If we lie, cheat, steal, break promises, commitments, act like an asshole, it's so easy for us to fall into the self-loathing hole or we could get super defensive because we want to make excuses to make it hurt less or we could try to numb ourselves to the pain of it all with various distractions: eating, drinking, obsessing about the situation and how it could have gone differently. But this does nothing for us and nothing for the person/people we may have hurt or affected with our bad behavior. It just breaks us down. 

I'm so tempted to berate myself, feel sorry for myself, be totally depressed in a marinade of shame, and, honestly, I've given in to this a bit. 

But.... I can feel the part of me knows that this lesson will serve me. This part of me prays my suffering will be of service to the world in some way. And this part is getting stronger and stronger with each screw-up. And that's where the gratitude for a painful situation comes from. From knowing that each time I mess up, I get to bring love to a place where there has not been love before, and therefore increase the love in my life. 

"Immediate compassion for your missteps gives you the strength to take the next best step." - Danielle LaPorte

This part of me knew that I shouldn't have lied about the thing I lied about, but it also, in the background, knew that although this lesson would be painful, it would clear space for something better to take root. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, "First the pain, then the rising." This thing had to play out so that I can be where I am now, writing this piece and pouring love into a part of me that wasn't loved before. 

This experience solidifies my commitment to only doing what feels right, even if what feels right doesn't make sense in the "real" world. This experience makes so clear the ridiculousness of egoic ambition and acting out of a need for external praise. 

Sometimes the gunk, the darkness, the kept-underneath-the-rug must come to the surface to be healed. And that can look awful, messy, and a whole lot like your fault. But, it must come into the Light for it be let go. 

Whatever I did or have done, it is forgivable, but I am the only one who has to do the forgiving, other peoples' forgiveness is their own journey, which can be the hardest part of all. 

So into the Light with it all. To get through this, I'll give myself heaping doses of tenderness when I can, and when I can't, I'll pray that my suffering is of service. (Danielle LaPorte again!) 

To anyone out there struggling to forgive themselves for something they did, I'm with you. But I want you to know, no matter what it is: You have a pure heart. You can get through this and learn the lesson and become stronger for it. You are loved. You are loving. You are lovable, forever. 

Clara Wisner

Clara Wisner is a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner. She attended school at the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, CO from 2012 to 2015. Clara Wisner is also a Certified Primal Expert and a Certified Sugar Detox Coach. She has a BS in Resource Conservation and Economics from the University of Montana. She is a world traveler and is working on cookbook tentatively called Paleo Around the World: A modern Take on Traditional Recipes. Clara organizes the Paleo Pop Events in Denver, helping to create a healthier, stronger, more connected community. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her husband and the paleo puggle, Ooli. In her free time she crossfits, cooks, writes poetry, walks dogs (other peoples’ and her own), listens to A LOT of podcasts, reads fantasy novels and also loves to read about biology, neurology, and marketing.