In praise of self-love

If self-loathing no longer works as motivation, self-love is all that is left.

I should have gone into the office, but did not as I had a request for 850 words which I particularly wanted to write. I polished it, and have sent it off a day later. I don’t know if they will like it. Possibly it is too dark, possibly it gives needed shade to other contributions.

It was complete motivation. I could do nothing else. It was me being me.

The day before I was out canvassing for Labour. How should I call how I was? Over-excited, like a child without proper emotional regulation? High? Possibly just excited. I enjoyed it. Several women wanted strong female MPs, a good sign when we have a female candidate. Again, this was what I most wanted to do.

In both cases, I am doing something I feel may have a result I want. I give it my energy. It gives me instant joy, though also involving work. My motivation is instant and strong, excluding other activity.

What of reading? Here I see two motivations, not easily teased apart. I read to learn, to sample others’ understanding, to see clearly; or I read a book which fits the person I was told I ought to be, for the illusory safety of being what I am not. The latter inspires me from self-loathing. The former may be difficult and challenging. When hurt I withdraw and may not want such challenge.

I spend a lot of time licking my wounds. I have a lot of wounds to heal. This too is self-love; but I may not see that, and try to whip myself into action.

Then, may I take action for my growth? Could I go to the office seeing it is the best way I have at the moment to develop in a way which might let me support myself. I might heat my house- I can cuddle a hot water bottle for warmth, and I want to breathe warm air!

That is self-love looking at a long term project, uncertain of success. Yet only self-love will get me to the office, and not self-loathing, because only self-love can trust myself enough to believe the project has a chance of working.

I have whipped myself in fear for too long. Come on, you useless fuckwit! Do this, it is simple, even the most lazy useless worthless imbecile should have no difficulty! Then I don’t achieve perfection, and despair.

So I collapse in a heap and despise myself more. Yet, in these years withdrawn from the world I sometimes see good in myself, or wise others see it and communicate it to me.

Or I see myself and suddenly see it as good. I am soft. Self-loathing sees that as worthless, at best pitiable, self-love sees its beauty.

If I love myself I might see good qualities in myself, see myself as worthy of success and capable of achieving it. Like that writing. I have written something worthwhile.

In a spiritual exercise Richard Rohr writes, bring to mind a time when you were generous with someone, a time when you did something nice for someone else. When have I ever been generous, asks self-loathing. I spend myself, for my own self interest, seeking safety in the most stupid way.

In the CAB I wanted each person to feel better and be safer, with more money. Self-love sees my sympathy and my effort. It’s not absolutely pure altruism- I valued doing my job well, and getting them to trust me made them more willing to answer my questions, and I was paid for it, but rather than doing the minimum to get by I would seek to improve and do more.

The self-loathing and seeking illusory safety was part of that, and if I can see their value I might kiss them, see they have done their work, and let them go.

If I pause to consider, I have enough self-love and self-respect to take their place, and with practice may grow to trust.

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