WARNING: This post is a huge fuck-off rant, so if you don’t dig that, don’t read this. Try this instead. I don’t do warnings, but I’ve been waffling about this post for a long time, and this seemed the only way to alleviate my fear. I believe in what I’m saying, I just have that stereotypical fear of rejection and confrontation. Onwards!
I gotta get something off my chest. I know it’s the holidays and whatnot, but I think that means it needs to be said even more now than usual. Bear with me.
This whole fluffy-bunny culture of “All you have to do is love yourself enough and everything will be amazing forever” is complete and utter bullshit. Dangerous bullshit.
New Age circles and self-help writers encourage this delusional thinking by saying all you have to do is think happy thoughts and your dreams will come true. Apparently, the secret to life, the universe, and everything is being a Pollyanna.
Positive thinking is a good short-term solution – it helps combat the Evil Auctioneer and keeps you from hiding in your room before the big presentation – but it doesn’t last. After a day or two, you come back to earth and have to face reality.
There’s so much we have no control over, and yet the positive thinking movement wants you believe that saying “I love you” to the mirror will make all of those other factors not matter.
It’s the Cult of Positive Thinking.
“You can do and be anything if only you believe the right things about yourself!” they say.
But the “right things” are the things they say are right; you don’t get to decide because that could lead to negative thinking. Only positive, self-love, “I am the center of the universe because I deserve to be” thoughts are allowed.
But the system doesn’t work because if you have a single negative thought – if you don’t manifest a house on the French Rivera or even if you miss your doctor’s appointment – they’ll tell you it’s because you didn’t believe.
For example: The “law of attraction” tells you that you got raped because you wanted to be raped. It’s your fault because you had the wrong thoughts, because you didn’t love yourself enough.
How fucked up is that?
As a result, whenever you don’t get exactly what you want, you’re insidiously punished: you do it to yourself. You blame yourself and say you’re worthless or undisciplined or weak.
The cult brainwashes you to think that’s right; you’re an awful person because you can’t maintain a positive attitude 24/7.
Here’s a secret.
You’re still going to fail no matter how much you love yourself. Hours of concentration and an “I love myself” mantra is not going to get you a Ferrari if you don’t leave the fucking house.
And you’re still going to get shit done, even if you don’t have rose-coloured glasses. You’re still going to buy groceries, have hot sex, invent the replicator, or write the Great American Novel.
You don’t need to be a manic pixie dreamgirl to do great work. Or even average work.
You just have to know yourself.
When you know who and what you are, flaws and darkness and everything, you gain something much more valuable and useful than the ever-elusive self-love.
You get self-respect. You get self-confidence.
The knowledge that you are, in fact, capable of amazing things, even if you’re walking around in the red mist all day and cry yourself to sleep at night sometimes.
You become practical and grounded. You know your boundaries. You get comfortable in the skin, heart, brain, and soul you’ve got instead of hating yourself for not being something else.
You don’t need to transcend reality – just work inside it.
Knowing yourself is the realist’s way of approaching life. Stop thinking that the law of attraction and fluffy-bunny thinking is the only way to get what you want out of life. No one, not even the gurus, has a sunny outlook 100% of the time – it’s not humanly possible.
When you know yourself, those days you wake up and look for the first thing you can murder aren’t just okay, they’re par for the course. Like the cat barfing on the rug; you sigh and clean it up and love the cat anyway. You know that this No Good Very Bad Day is part of who you are, and you don’t have to cram it back into its hole to avoid losing your grip on “love and light.”
You don’t need positive thinking because you have good old fashioned regular thinking on your side.
You can love yourself all you want, but if you don’t have a solid foundation of reality under your feet, your whole gossamer castle will come crashing down when you’re passed over for a promotion or eat half a cake over the sink – you’ll have nothing left to stand on without Self-understanding to ground you.
The moral of the story: No amount of self-love is going to make your dreams come true. You do that yourself. You just have to know who you are.
“Don’t stand in the middle of a superhighway and create your own reality.” — Barbara Sher
You like writing, yeah? What about writing those parts of yourself that you thought were boring and couldn’t possibly have anything to do with “real life”? You like writing about those?
You probably haven’t even thought about your strongest scent memory or your relationship with silence or what you’d ask God if you had a chance to pick His/Her/Their brain(s). It's too prosaic to matter, right?
Everything you experience – past, present, future, alternate timeline – matters when you’re working out who you are. They’re core questions to getting to know your true Self.
You’ve got to dig into everyday situations to discover what you’re all about.