Self Love as Activism
It is so radical to attend a protest, event, workshop or lead some progressive movement. Even internet activism through blogging is something that you may think is radical. While the things you do are amazing and important there is one thing that you must do that is truly radical. This is self love as activism!
I didn't know what self love was until I went out to graduate school in Boulder, Colorado. During the first week I was there one of my friends said to me, "you must love yourself, that is the greatest thing you can do." While I struggled to breakdown the barriers of love and hate in myself I was determined to love me. I dealt with an eating disorder throughout the majority of graduate school and towards the end it got worse. Even moving back to Michigan and trying numerous ways to heal myself I eventually broke down the hate within me. The love dissolved the hate of self, the eating disorder disintegrated and I was anew. The process was never easy. There were some really dark moments. I truly hated myself at times. Today I can say that I truly have beautiful self love.
Why is self love important in activism? Self love is important in activism because it shows self respect and personal empowerment. It is not self serving to have love for yourself. It is radical to love yourself. You can be a living example for the communities and people you work with. It will help you continue the work that you do because you are making sure to take care of you. This is radical because much of what people know as service is sacrifice. In this type of service you won't be of any benefit to others if you are giving and giving while not taking care of you. You will eventually burn out. So you have to love you.
Tips in self love as activism:
1) Write down a list of positive things about you.
2) Take time out for you by going for a walk, exercising, meditation, a small weekend getaway, knit, build something, do a retreat (remember to ask for scholarships if you don't have the money) or take a bath!
3) Have compassion for yourself in the work that you. We are always growing and learning. I often think perfection is imperfection, right?
4) Remember love comes from you. Post up notes around your home to affirm this love within. Write a love letter to yourself. This may seem silly but it is radical. This first time I wrote a love letter to myself I had the hardest time. Try it, have humor in the process and see what happens after you write the letter.
5) Counter negative and critical thoughts with positive ones. This can be really hard especially if we have internalized oppression. We may be thinking that no one sees us and no one cares. But, you must learn to take care of you and this starts with tackling those negative thoughts with positives ones. Self love starts to trickle in more and more once we turn the tide on negativity.
6) Take care of your needs. If you need to journal to process and experience or listen to music to heal then do it. Remember you know what is best for you and when you take care of your needs that is awesome self love.
7) Be vocal to those who you live with or those who are close to you about this self love. Sometimes claiming self love to others is radical in itself. I know with claiming self love to my family in the beginning was hard. They didn't want me to love me because they did not love themselves. Being vocal about breaks down that hate of self and internalized oppression that has lead to hate of the self. Now my family knows I have great self love and it is totally a new story.
8) Have humor in learning to love you. I would often jump from self love, self hate to he middle of both and back again. I had to laugh at not knowing which direction to turn. Radical self love is a journey and you have laugh while your learn.
My journey in the past several years has been interesting. I have turned inward do some amazing healing work. I thought healing would come easy and fast. I thought I could heal deep seated wounds overnight. As a healer I often call them, "pain pictures." You can't just delete these pain pictures in one day, two weeks or three months. They are often embedded in your body, mind and spirit because of repeated trauma and abuse. Therefore it is a gentle cultivation of self love to heal. You must add a little bit more to the compost to heal. A little bit more to clear these pictures. Stand on the land, cry, release, heal and compost. Let it all compost until the soil is good for planting, nurturing and harvesting. Then you will know you have learned to love you. Self love as activism can be a beautiful journey.
Remember that this work is cyclical and reflects back on the world to you again. You can emerge into your space of self love everyday and reemerge into the work that you do. Self love will keep you going when begin to feel tired or are experiencing burnout. Self love is activism that I encourage you to take part in.
In what ways do you love you?
What other tips in self love do you have?
What is your self love story?