Spoiler alert: I’m talking about love today, but it’s not going to get squishy. I promise.
Love, the magical four-letter word that is probably one of the most spoken about and misunderstood concepts we have in the world today. And, it’s also our theme this month when we celebrate an amazing, sold out event, LOVE in CLEVELAND, on Wednesday, June 24.
I can guarantee with near 100% certainty that when you turn on the radio, you will never hear any song about self-love. There are songs about finding, losing, and falling in love—all which have to do with someone else—but you won’t hear any lyrics about how you swept yourself off your own feet, let alone any that talk about smashing your own car’s headlights in with a Louisville Slugger. Thanks Carrie Underwood.
There’s some misconception about what the term self-love really means. To me, it’s not narcissism—I’m awesome, that’s what up, fool—and it’s not walking around in hemp clothes, listening to ocean sounds on your iPod either. I think self-love works more like Jarvis, Tony Stark’s computer voice inside his Iron Man suit.
If you’ve seen the Iron Man or Avengers movies, you know that Jarvis keeps watch over Tony Stark, letting him know if an enemy is in pursuit or if his suit is running low on power. He’s always keeping a watchful eye out for danger, helping Tony along the way. And if you know the Stark character, he occasionally does crazy, risky stuff much to the frustration and exasperation of those around him.
If Jarvis were human, he’d be telling Tony what an idiot he was and probably let him reap what he sows in order to teach him a lesson; in fact, the human characters around him sometimes do. Well, guess what? Our inner Jarvis is more like that. We are oftentimes the worst to ourselves, especially amidst crisis, when things are looking down for us, and even in ordinary times, too. Instead of just keeping a look out for ourselves (being our own best friend is one way of staying it), we berate ourselves to the point of ridiculousness. Oh, if other people could only hear what we say about ourselves!
Taking self-love and making it tangible is tough and takes time. Has someone close to you wronged you and you still loved that person? That’s a close analogy for the kind of practice you need to have with yourself.
We’re not going to solve the challenge of self-love in one simple blog post, so do yourself one small, implementable favor: pay attention to the dialogue running around in your end, careful to notice how you judge your own thoughts and actions. It may sound trivial (and initially feels like a lot of work) but in the same way monitoring your own breath can have a profound impact on your health, watching your thoughts can also lead to some personal breakthroughs.
If you’d like to take the concept of self-love to self-study, check out Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s an easy book to start the process of getting to know your inner Jarvis.
Happy loving and I hope to see you on the 24th!