”… yourself, it is the greatest love of all.”
These words come from a song by Whitney Houston. I came to think about one morning about a month ago while I was reflecting on something I had heard someone say the night before. This thing this someone said was that ”there is so much talk about loving yourself and all that ego stuff”. I thought about how funny it is that many people believe that self love, or self compassion, is the same thing as being driven by your ego. What if it is the exact opposite?
About two weeks before this evening, I had been in a black hole. A black hole that, since some months back, occurs during that part of the month when I am about to get my period. This particular time I thought my life was absolute shit. And I thought I was a pile of shit too. Stupid, weak, an idiot. Yes, that was where I was at. Me, Johanna, who is aaaaalways happy, right? No, I am not. So right, I was in this black hole and five days later I was going to enter the stage at a local theatre in the south west of Sweden, in a show that I had been part of creating (a la Varberg). A show about self compassion, vulnerability and trust. And right there, right then it felt like I had like zero self compassion, I was not willing to be vulnerable and had a minor amount of trust for myself and others. All I saw were obstacles, huge obstacles, and the biggest obstacle was to be ME.
One of the tasks I had during the week leading up to the show was to write a love letter to myself. On the Tuesday I made a first effort writing the letter. I tried being nice to myself and it worked for half a sentence before self pity took over and I found myself filling a whole page with mean stuff about myself. Who was this talking to me through me? It was my EGO. My ego telling me that I am not good enough, that I am ugly, that I am a big fraud and that soon everyone will find out. Because that is what my ego usually tells me when I let it speak loud enough.
A couple of days passed and eventually I found that finally, something was shifting. I started seeing possibilities again. I was back again. And when I say I, I mean my being. The one I truly am. My ego is not who I truly am. I have an ego, I am not my ego. How did this happen? Did it happen just by magic? Well, I guess that depends on what you mean with magic. In my experience, magic shows up when you do the work. If you find yourself in a deep black hole and you would like to get out of it – start climbing. This is what I did; I started using the tools I have available in my toolbox. I started breathing more consciously, connecting with my being, beyond thoughts, beyond the mind. I started asking myself questions without looking for answers. One of the questions I asked myself was ”What if this is the change I have been asking for showing up in a different way than I thought it would?”. What does this mean? Well it means that if for example you have been unhappy with your job for some time and then all of a sudden you get fired, instead of letting your ego loose and letting it tell you that you should pity yourself, you let yourself realize that being laid off could actually be the change you have been asking for. It just shows up in the form of loosing your job instead of how you had decided it would show up (e.g. in the form of a great job offer that would make it easy for you to quit). You get it right? I also resumed reading the books on my bedside table again (I had not opened them during the days I spent in the black hole, which is very common when everything seems dark) and that opened up a different space for me to be too. The bottomline is this: I started making conscious choices that took me out of the prison of the ego and back in to the freedom of my being. Because when I am being me I am vulnerability, I am love, I am ease and most of all, I am JOY!
So what happened? Well, Thursday night, two days before the show I just knew it. I knew what my love letter was going to be about. I knew that I would write it the following day. When I woke up Friday morning it was there, I had it within me. Friday night in the airplane taking me from Gotland to Gothenburg, I just wrote it down. It took me ten minutes. And in those ten minutes I wrote down words filled with so much love and gratitude for myself. Words coming from a place within that we all have access to if we choose it. The older we get we tend to forget to visit this place. We tend to look for happiness and love outside of ourselves. We tend to believe that it is the task of someone else to give us the love we would like to have in our lives. What if love is something you will have to give, show and be with yourself before you can receive it from someone else? What if learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all?
With joy and lots of gratitude,
PS The picture above shows the first part of my love letter, written to myself as a 5-year old. DS