I see healing as an evolution, not as a destination or a promised land. I’m not striving to become better, I’m already good enough. I just strive for a more helpful life that is in alignment with my and others well-being. As I progress on my journey, I can’t help but want others to feel as good about themselves as I do about myself. I think it’s a natural desire.
I have come from severe generational self-hate. In my family self-hate was glorified and made “good”. So for me it took a lot of years to step out of self-hate and step into self-love. But learning to love oneself doesn’t mean the end of the healing journey. In many ways, it is only the beginning.
Cause when I truly learned to accept all of myself- the nice along with the very ugly- was I able to really step into the realm of deep shadow-work. As a self-hating person, I couldn’t bare looking at many things, but after learning self-love I have the courage to look into the darkest corners with an attitude of deep self-acceptance and compassion. Before self-love, looking at some of those things could have caused re-traumatization instead of healing.
I used to think that self-love will solve all my problems and I will forever be happy and free. That turned out to be not true at all. Self-love has merely allowed me to look at myself and my problems with acceptance and compassion. It has given me a best friend and a cheerleader who lives inside of me and helps me go through life’s ups and downs. Yes, I have, along the way, dissolved many of my traumas, but there are still a lot of traumas to heal, CPTSD to manage, coping mechanisms to dismantle, belief-systems to deconstruct, addictions to overcome and so on.
There’s a wonderful Zen saying:
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
― Zen saying
This is exactly how I feel about self-love. Self-love doesn’t magically cure us, it actually doesn’t change our lives all that much, but it does make life’s hardships a lot easier to go through, because we know how to be there for ourselves.
I’m not waiting for the healing journey to end, because it might never end. I don’t think of myself as broken. I see my healing journey as a natural and interesting discovery of myself and life.
So below is a list of books that have served me along the way. They cover many different topics and some might not seem like a natural fit for a book about self-love. But they all have played a role in me growing in the area of self-love. I did get inspiration for taking better care of myself from these and thus have to add them in this list.
Bear in mind that possibly I don’t subscribe to some of the ideas described in these books anymore, but I once did. Or I never did. I read some of these books many many years ago and they might have helped me then, but would’t agree with my values now. And some might be too woo-woo for your taste.
Here we go. In no particular order:
- “Loving what is” Byron Katie
- “I need your love! Is that true?” Byron Katie
- “Emotional freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life” Judith Orloff
- “Metaphysical anatomy: Your body is talking, are you listening?” Evette Rose
- “The completion process: The practice of putting yourself back together again” Teal Swan
- “The drama of the gifted child” Alice Miller
- “Homecoming: Reclaiming and championing your inner child” John Bradshaw
- “Healing the shame that binds you” John Bradshaw
- “Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find — and keep — love” Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
- “What we don’t talk about when we talk about fat” Aubrey Gordon
- “Transactional analysis in psychotherapy” Eric Berne
- “The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business” Charles Duhigg
- “Wim Hof method” Wim Hof
- “You can heal your life” Louise Hay
- “The power of now” Eckhart Tolle
- “Conversations with God” Neale Donald Walsh
- “Nonviolent communication” Marshall Rosenberg
- “Dear lover” David Deida
- “The art of asking” Amanda Palmer
- “The dark side of the light chasers” Debbie Ford
- “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” Mark Manson
I’m sure that this is not the complete list. It’s just what came to my mind at the moment. I will be adding books here if I remember of a good one from the past or read one that will deserve to be added on this list.
And please remember to not use need to have self-love as a bat to hit yourself over the head with.