Have you ever wondered what self-love really means? I have… many many times… more time than I can count, and yet as each week, maybe even each day, goes by… I know it more and more. I was inspired today to consider that question again, and I want to give you… I even want to give me… an exact definition and then point to it and say, “That’s it. This is self-love and this is how you know when you have it… this is how you know when you are it.” And, I can’t. You can’t describe it exactly. You can’t pinpoint it. It’s an experience not a thing and, hard as we might try, we can’t accurately describe or define an experience.
It reminds me of a lesson from one of the first teachers I had on this journey to self-awareness and self-love. His name is Bill Ferguson and one of his books is “Have you Suffered Enough.” He taught us a key distinction between what I’ll call tangible objects, like a chocolate chip cookie, and experiences, like the experience of eating a chocolate chip cookie. He explained you can very accurately and specifically describe the cookie… it’s weight, it’s diameter, how many chocolate chips are in it, how many ounces of sugar are in it, etc. You can get specific and detailed. However, when you try to specifically describe the experience of eating that same cookie, you can’t do it. You can say it’s yummy, it’s warm, it’s delicious, it melts in your mouth… but how warm? what does melting in your mouth feel like to you… does it feel different in my mouth?
We love sharing our experiences with others… yet we can NEVER accurately describe an experience. Each experience is uniquely and completely ours and it can never be another’s. We can both stand on the same mountain top with the same brilliant sun streaming down on us and we will both have two very distinct – very personal – descriptions of what it was like. We can both share the same moment of blissful ecstatic lovemaking, where you know the experience to be intensely powerful for both of you… yet even though your bodies are as close and united as any two bodies could ever be, you are not having the same experience. As much as we want it to be the same for both of us… and we might be upset when our partner doesn’t describe it the way we do… it’s impossible for it to be the same.
Your experience is yours and yours alone. It’s one of the amazing things that makes our lives as humans exquisitely beautiful. Yet… how many times have you said to yourself, “I’m not special. I have nothing unique to share. They know more than I do. Everyone else has what I have and more?” STOP! It’s a lie. Only you can ever do what you do. Only you can give the gifts of your spirit, your experience, your being. This is one of the keys to self-love… to accept that you are unique, different, and special in this world… to know that you are here for a very specific reason, actually many reasons, and you have a gift to give. This is self-love… the self-love that keeps on giving to the oneness we all share.
Let’s pause for a moment here and look at romantic love… we can share it… and our experience of it will be our own, even if we’ve been married 30 years or it’s the magic of a new love. Your experience of the love you share will be your experience and your partner’s experience will be his or hers. Be curious about how each of you experience love and remember it CAN’T match your experience. Be intrigued by the different flavors and nuances you each have.
The same holds true for self-love. My experience of self-love will differ from yours… you must explore your experience with that same curiosity we spoke of above. You’ll notice distinctions in your experiences and in your relationship with yourself. There will be similarities between how you and I experience self-love, but they’ll never be the same.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about my personal experiences will self-love. At the far extremes, it’s distinctly different from the self-hatred that existed before I could even imagine what true love was. The internal self-abuse no longer happens. The inner critic is much quieter and there is a compassionate, forgiving kindness nearby now. There’s an automatic and natural commitment to care for myself. It’s a smile in the mirror and a peace that comes from just being me. There’s a difference in the way I touch my body. My body is no longer a stranger to me and I’m beginning to love it as I love a lover. These are just some of the ways I experience self-love.
It’s your turn to more deeply experience the unlimited potential for love within you… non-dependent, always existing, forever true. Explore it. Notice how it’s already there. Be curious how you might soak deeper in and open wider to that love that is in you… that is you.
May your unique experience of self-love expand vastly. I wonder how magical it will be for you?
If you are willing, leave a comment here on the blog page or share a post on Facebook. I’d love to hear about your special experience.
In all love, Joanna
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.