Radical Self Love
We do not learn about self love early enough in our society. From a young age however, we are instead quickly bombarded with stereotypical notions of romantic love through portrayals in Disney fairy tales, Hollywood romantic movies and popular culture music videos. Often in this, it shows the woman being the damsel in distress, and the man, her hero and knight in shining armour. Or the woman is shown sacrificing herself in some dramatic fashion, merely as subordinate to a man who then goes on to do greater things. It seems we only begin to consider self love once we begin to break free of the trauma that comes with the pseudo love previously taught and start to consider how we can heal ourselves and love correctly.
Self love is radical. Radical self love is revolutionary. But what does this mean to a soul stumbling upon these idioms for the first time? Let us first consider what we mean when we speak of love.
Love is arguably the most subjectively defined notion in the history of any idea that has ever been conceptualised since the existence of human consciousness. It is simultaneously individual and collective, a continuum, the dance and the song. Thus, I will not offer a definition of love – as poets have attempted to do since time immemorial – instead, I will offer a reflection on what self love is, what it entails and most importantly, how it can be revolutionary. Then, in doing so, hopefully love will define itself.
If we are to understand the rhetoric ‘radical self love is revolutionary’, it must be considered in three parts: 1. Radical 2. Self love and 3. Revolutionary. The word “radical” is heavily politicised, to the point we cannot barely hear it without thinking of extremist politics. It is far from that. The definition of radical that I would like for us to consider is that given by Angela Davis who says ‘radical simply means grasping things at the root’. And the thing we are to grasp in this context is self love.
But what is self love? Primarily, I would reflect that your “self” is the manifestation of your unique existence in the universe and its relation to that which it is, as well as, to the relation of the unique manifestation of the existence of others simultaneously. Love then, in relation to self love, simply becomes that which maintains, heals and grows the aforementioned.
“Revolutionary” then comes to us as that which transforms our existence, both on an individual as well as a collective level, to a higher state of being. On a tangent, it is worth mentioning the difference between rebellion and revolution. Rebellion is resistance and liberation from an order imposed on our existence, however, it is individual. It becomes revolution, when this resistance and liberation is manifested collectively.
Radical self love is revolutionary for, when practised, it has the power to transform our lives on both an individual and collective level for the better. I put the question to twitter earlier today, what does ‘self love’ mean to you? And of the many endearing responses I received, one that struck me in particular was given by @tamtamsworld who said self love is ‘treating yourself with the same level of compassion, patience and care that you would a little child’.
How can we practise self love? I think there are many elements to this. There is no single unique method that can be applied to all. As complicated and nuanced as us human beings are, we can all find a way to practise self love in different ways. However, I would suggest the three following fundamental principles when practising self love:
1. Death to the ego: self love is not an invitation to narcissism. Nor is it an opportunity for self aggrandised, conceited, superficial indulgences or gratification. Do not engage in that which inflates your ego, that which places you above others. Instead, consider your ‘self’ in relation to others.
2. Do not make comparisons: do not compare the manifestation of your own unique existence to that of others for that only drives competition, but does not encourage healing or growth. We are not here to compete with that which we are connected to. Imagine, the elements competing with each other. It will only lead to destruction. Comparison encourages one of two outcomes; inferiority or superiority. Neither of which helps us to heal or to grow.
3. Daily ritual: practise a simple routine or ritual at the same time every day - it can be in the morning when you wake or night before you sleep – that allows you to centre your self and be rooted in your own existence, whilst in reflection others. Some suggestions are to light a scented candle and meditate or a routine of stretching or breathing exercises.
The problem is that not enough of us are arrive at radical self love early enough in our loves, and once we do, even less of us form relationships with those who are practising radical self love and consequently, many of our relationships come to destruction as they are centred in ego, particularly in this contemporary era of narcissim, nihilism and capitalism. However, when two people who are practising radical self love come together in union, without ego or domination, this is revolutionary. This, ultimately, is love.