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Bring Me Your Ugly

Why can’t my daughter love herself like she is?

A friend and I were talking about her teenager who is in the early stages of transition. This is one of the questions that is tormenting my friend and, really, it applies to all of us, heterosexual, homosexual, and anywhere in between. I mean, it’s kind of a crazy question, right? How many full-grown adults do you know that love themselves like they are? I don’t know anyone who isn’t trying to improve something -looks, finances, their mate. Everywhere you look there are comparisons to make.

Check your phone. Most people aren’t posting pictures of their unwashed hair and messy houses.  Your sister says her nose is too long. Your friend won’t wear a bathing suit because she thinks her butt jiggles.   Now me, I long ago made peace with my rearview. After all, I can’t see it so, whatever, it’s your problem.  I don’t even blow-dry the back of my hair for just that reason. That doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with the desire to improve myself in other areas. If we can’t love ourselves as we are by the time we’ve hit 50 how can we possibly expect that our kids could love themselves just as they are? Especially if they are exploring that they might be trans. But seriously, why does it feel so hard to love ourselves?

I think there are three reasons.

Reason #1 –   Our primitive brain wants to be part of a group, because back when our brains were first evolving, being in a group meant safety from the big and scary world where we could and would get eaten on the regular. Individuality and being true to ourselves was not actually not safe. Today, even though most of us are in no danger of being eaten by a wild animal, we still believe what our primitive brain is telling us. We change ourselves to conform to whatever group we want to stay a part of because our primitive brain whispers in our ear that it's safer.  It doesn’t matter that that may not be true – that the reality of belonging to a particular group isn’t so safe for us. That we feel wrong in our own skin when we try to conform in a way that doesn’t allow us to be in integrity with ourselves.

Reason #2 -We live in a society that is constantly selling us on the next best thing.  Americans are strivers, right? Advertisers and reality shows are shouting at us that if we aren’t out there achieving something amazing, we will be left behind. If we all believed that we are perfect just as we are, we wouldn’t pay for all the stuff they are selling. That sets us up in a race with everyone else and creates a constantly moving goalpost that we can never catch up with.

Reason #3- We are not taught as children that we are worthy and loveable just as we are and that that cannot change.  A newborn baby is 100% worthy of love by virtue of existing even though pretty much all it does is poop and cry and keep you up at night. And you are 100% worthy of love too. Right now. This minute. There is nothing you can do that will make you more or less worthy of love.  And the first person who needs to love us is… us.

Our self-talk is often terrible. We have lots of negative thoughts about ourselves that we decide to believe are true. But here is the real truth. If you don’t love yourself, it because you have made a choice not to love yourself. And you can make a choice to love yourself by having your own back and choosing not to beat yourself up. We get in a loop of negative self-talk and we decide to believe that those thoughts are true. We are taught that to tell people that we are amazing is bragging and somehow impolite and the light that shined out of us as kids dims and dims until is so faint that we don’t even see it anymore.

I have the best news for you! You can tell your brain and society and whoever convinced you that you were not 100% loveable to shut up RIGHT NOW!   I love you. Right now. 100%. And there is nothing that you could say about yourself that would make me believe that you are unlovable. Bring me your ugly and I can teach you how to love yourself.    

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