Steps Towards Loving Yourself

I had written an Instagram post so long that instagram was like “you’re out of characters”.

So I’ll post my thoughts here.

The beginning of this tour (Build It Up 2019) I spent in western Montana and northern Idaho. It’s idyllic: Snow capped mountains melt their clear cool snows into beautiful lakes and rivers that run along green fields and pastures. If anyone is happy or peaceful it’s gotta be people here, right?

I was wrong. After my shows people repeatedly (really, it was a theme) came up to me and said my message of love and inclusion was so desperately needed because there was such division and animosity there in their communities. That they were drained and felt energized and filled-up after my show. Great compliments! But at the same time our polarization, division, and isolation has filtered into every part of our lives. People are genuinely having a hard time relating to one another.

And so I think on these words I learned when I was a kid: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

That’s a huge ask. To love myself. I know all the parts I think are ugly or others have told me is ugly and undesirable. And frankly I discover new ones all the time. Every time I try something new, in fact, I find new ways to put myself down or count myself out.

So here are my thoughts.

1) Self-love isn’t about punching up the things you like about yourself and minimizing the things you don’t. Or doing as some people think ought to be done and turning your strengths into weaknesses. I think it’s about giving yourself the space and freedom to be you and to celebrate that.

It can be hard. Maybe you hate that you’re not patient enough with your kids. Maybe you get stressed really easy. Maybe social situations make you anxious and you hate that about yourself. Maybe you feel plain or ordinary. As many different ways we are, there are that many ways to be unhappy with ourselves.

2) For some it can be really easy to extend grace to others for being the way they are. Give yourself grace to be who you are. It may be obvious, but no one is perfect. Letting yourself off the hook can be the first step to self-love.

3) I’m not referring to those things that nettle at us about ourselves like “I could stand to lose 30 pounds” or “I want to get my teeth straightened”. Unless those things affect you deeply. I’m talking about the root of those things: Self-loathing our own appearance, or the way we treat ourselves, or others.

4) I find that self-love begins with self-celebration. Maybe you wish you were more outgoing. Recognize that not everyone is comfortable around a social-butterfly. And that there are people out there that are really drawn to bashful people. Take that formula and apply it to your circumstance. I’m not talking about re-framing your issue, but addressing the lie: that you’re not good enough. I know it’s a lie because you are good enough. If you’re not, I’m not, and nobody is.

So to recap:

1) Self-love isn’t misdirection towards those things you like about yourself. Press into the spaces you find uncomfortable about yourself. Self-discovery is important toward having peace with who you are.

2) If you are able to cut others slack and not yourself, your idea of compassion is either false, or at best, incomplete. It either includes everybody or nobody. You’re somebody. Include yourself in your own compassion and grace.

3) The details are important, but don’t get hung up on them. You’re more than your love handles or even a personality.

4) Celebrate yourself.

I love you. Be well, Choir.

<3 Reverend Doctor

Derrick Keith