Self love is an inside job but there are millions of people around the world that only see it from the outside. Many people are conditioned to only see the outside of anything. They can’t even fathom approaching another person without that initial sense of vanity. After all people are visual. Whatever encounters our senses first will preface our initial reaction to something. Finding the source of an offensive smell can change your future perception of that smell if encountered again as now you have a point of reference and although it doesn’t change how your sense of smell was initially offended, it may change the way you react to it. The same could be said about self love. If you have no point of reference then how do you know what it is. If you spent a lot of time hating different aspects of yourself because of outside influences it is difficult to love yourself based on your own perceptions as they can also be influenced.
People have a hard time understanding how they can affect someone else’s self esteem as it is supposed to be about “how one feels about themselves” but if you have never had people tell you on a daily basis for years on end how utterly unacceptable your looks are/were to society then you have no point of reference and your empathy is limited. That is a trauma that takes years to overcome especially when you are already considered by the majority of society as being “other”. I am considered to be a tall, dark skin black, fluffy, intelligent sometimes “nerdy”, independent woman in a white dominated patriarchal society. On top of all the adjectives that put me in the “other” category I was also born with “severe to extreme atopic dermatitis” in layman’s terms a really bad case of Eczema that covered all my extremities with the exception of my face. So on top of being the minority of minorities I was also afflicted with a skin condition that many adults were not even equipped to handle during my childhood. I don’t think there was a reptile I wasn’t compared to at some point. Regardless of the reference it was used there were times that members of my own family would reference me in that regard occasionally. To put it mildly I was unintentionally high maintenance as I was born that way with a condition that some deemed hereditary although the severity of the condition varied.
Now there are people reading this like “Oh that ain’t nothing my cousin so and so had eczema, no big deal.” Well again I say your empathy is limited due to your own life experiences. I had more than a patch here and there. There were people who wouldn’t touch me, kids that wouldn’t play with me or anyone else that played with me for that matter, adults that couldn’t take care of me because they weren’t aware of my diet and special needs and conditions to keep my skin under control where I would not be scratching the whole time. So I completely comprehend the idea of learning how to heal in order to love yourself in more ways than one as the experiences encountered due to my skin condition was just one of many traumatic things that would happen to me as I kept living beyond my skin becoming clear in my early twenties. After twenty years of “bad skin” to then have twenty years of clear skin I thought I had gotten over many of the feelings that stemmed from being ostracized due to my skin. It took my youngest son to point out the fact that I did not wear nail polish on my hands but always kept my toes polished last year. Yes, just last year. A grown woman in her forties that never had her fingernails done outside of prom because in my mind it was one less way to bring attention to myself. See I thought by blending into the background that it would keep me from getting the attention of people that wanted to spotlight me for their own entertainment. So, no bright colors, no fingernail polish and definitely no wild hairstyles. But it took my child to make me realize that on some level it was still an issue that I had not gotten past. After that small observation by my youngest son I started getting my nails done as a part of my self-care to remind myself to love myself first.
That is just one of the many ways trauma and the effects of it can sneak up on you and make you look at yourself in a new light. In my opinion it is in those moments where we owe ourselves a big Kudos and a high five for even attempting to pull back the layers of issues to get to the real you. Yes, self-love is an inside job but until you start sorting out and addressing all the stuff from the outside that has affected you inside you will keep going in a perpetual circle of confusion wondering why you have not been able to get past one thing or another. I know I’m a work in progress and this journey takes some real soul searching. You have to be honest with yourself and be willing to deal with whatever you discover about yourself and where certain hurts and traumas are still effecting you to this day whether you acknowledge it or not. Triggers are everywhere and ignoring them does not absolve you of the way you treat other people nor does it give you an excuse to say “Oh that’s just how I am”. If you can acknowledge that is “just how you are” then also acknowledge that you are not willing to work on it because in saying “that’s just how I am” you acknowledge you are aware of the issue. Everyone is so busy looking outside of themselves for things they should be finding on the inside that they are missing out on some of the best parts of people in general. When people get a little more polish about themselves then they will start to feel a little more love wherever they go.