I learned how to love myself when I was 33. For most of my life I thought I had to twist into the person others wanted me to be so I could be loved. I had to twist into being strong, being thin, being a smart person, being creative, being athletic, being an a student, being a successful entrepreneur… Through all those twists, I was distancing myself from who I truly was, running down dark alleys and dead end streets thinking I would end up with all the love.
At 33 my body caught up to me and shut everything down. Facing a chronic brain cancer diagnosis, beyond all the surgery, radiation, chemo and pills, I was forced to learn how to love myself so I could heal. Some of the lessons came through teachers and guides, some came through books, some just came through getting more in touch with myself.
One thing was abundantly clear and I didn’t need anyone else telling me to understand it; holding grudges or having bad blood between myself and others was a major impediment to my health and ultimate recovery. I had to learn how to forgive or ask for forgiveness and repair damage I may have done in my former relationships. Just after my brain surgery there were three people I reached out to with an apology. I wrote them emails articulating my misgivings and hope that they could forgive me.
These emails didn’t precipitate a rush of forgiveness, in fact I didn’t directly hear from two of the three. What they did offer was a release of the burden I had been carrying for years. I was holding onto the grudge and allowing it to fester, even if I was the one who had messed up (which is usually up for debate in a conflict). The practice of reaching out and asking for forgiveness allowed me to heal in peace and not have these raw wounds keeping me sick.
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When I think about how this applies as a Love Extremist I’m reminded of a story Tim Phillips told me about his work with Nelson Mandela when I spoke to him on Love Extremist Radio. Tim told me about Mandela’s approach in going to negotiate with F.W. de Klerk, then the…