I think it was about two years ago that I really realized that I wanted to learn to love myself fully. I had noticed this term being said many times, but I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, and I definitely heard my inner dialogue being very self-critical most of the time. This is the first part of a series where I share and unravel what helped me along on my journey towards self-love.
Ingredients: motorbike accident - loving friends - a shift
The lowest point is still clear and vivid in my memory. I was in Pai in Northern Thailand with a bunch of fellow qi gong students. We were staying at our friends’ beautiful house in the countryside. On the outside everything looked perfect, but on the inside I was in a very bad state. I was observing my wonderful friends having so many talents: playing guitar, singing, cooking, growing gardens, taking photos, making all kinds of creative stuff, and I just felt utterly talentless. It was quite difficult to actually enjoy what I was offered by everyone; because on the inside I had a profound feeling that I didn’t have anything to contribute with. I felt invisible when we were together as a group. Instead of appreciating their gifts they just reminded me of my own lack.
Then what happened is almost tragicomic in hindsight! I decided I needed some time by myself and ventured out on a motorbike trip through the scenic mountainous stretch of Northern Thailand. Something in me needed to prove to myself that I didn’t need anybody else. One-and-a-half day into the trip I had an accident. I fell of the bike going down a mountainside in the middle of nowhere. I hit my head and found myself lying in a pool of blood on a dusty road. I have never needed other people so much as in that moment! And luckily enough I was found by a forest patrol that brought me to the hospital. I was stitched up, picked up and driven back to my friends’ house. For the following 10 days they took care of me; cooking, driving me to the hospital daily, comforting me and giving healing treatments.
It was such a strange incident: in one way I felt like I deserved that accident (my self-aversion was that strong); and somehow it was a wakeup call for me to engage with and embrace life, instead of staying in this bubble of self-loathing and inadequateness. At the same time it completely restored my faith in the fact that I was loved and magically supported. By surrendering to the fact that I did need others something inside of me started to shift slightly.
Over the course of the years I’ve noticed how interconnected my self and others are: the more I’ve come to appreciate other people and their gifts the more I appreciate myself and my own gifts. I used to feel like there was only so much talent in the world, and that if someone else was great at something it made me be less great. Recently my teacher Areerat put it beautifully; saying that everyone has their own uniqueness to them, and we don’t need to change this or compare, we only need to let it shine through us.
Do you appreciate yourself and the people around you? This is an invitation to cultivate appreciation and gratitude as much as possible.