There's a thin line between self-help and self-criticism—at least, according to Danielle LaPorte. The "truth bomb"-dropping spiritual guru (with a coveted spot on Oprah's SuperSoul 100 list) makes the case for radical forgiveness and unrelenting love in her latest book, White Hot Truth (out today).
Her main contention? That in our improvement-obsessed culture, the more you strive for well-being, the more you might actually be making things worse for yourself. Which doesn't mean all hope's lost; according to The Desire Map author, one of the key things you can do is cultivate serious self-love (she's talking the real deal, and not just regramming inspo memes). Here, in this excerpt from White Hot Truth, LaPorte explains what it really looks like to transcend self-loathing and show yourself the compassion that you deserve.
In her warm and plain-speaking way, Buddhist nun Pema Chodron talks about how many of us spend years taking good care of ourselves with exercise and diet regimes, we get our massages, do our spiritual practices and various forms of meditation, but when we're really challenged by life, we still don't have true self-Love to draw on: "...all those years don't seem to have added up to their inner strength and kindness for themselves that they need to relate with what's happening... When we start to develop unconditional acceptance of ourselves, then we are really taking care of ourselves in a way that pays off." A way that pays off.
A way that builds inner strength instead of outer dependencies. A way that expands us so that we can accommodate more pain and more joy. A way that grows us. Deep growth happens when our self-care is a celebration of our goodness and value, and not a fixation on what needs to be fixed. It's a life-affirming attentiveness that steers us inward for the answers. Eventually we stop looking for "signs from the Universe" that we are loved, and we start finding signs —everywhere—that we Love ourselves.
You start where you are and Love what you can.
Consider that Love, like Truth and Light, exists on a spectrum. On one end, we have hesitant, kind-of-Love. On the other end of the scale is free-flowing, certain, pure Love.
If you want to grow in Love for who you are, you Love what you can on any given day and let that guide you out of the darkness toward bigger, brighter Love. Some days, all you'll be able to muster is Loving the color of your eyes or how organized you keep your desk. Brilliant. Pick something, anything, to keep your mind off loathing.
Other days, you'll know with electric certainty that you are a magnificent, connected creature. And that Love affair with your Truth will be your protection, your guide, and your reason for being.
We say and do things to ourselves that we'd never do to other people. Would you treat anyone else like that?
You practice good manners with yourself.
We self-help overachievers can berate ourselves for our suffering. We say and do things to ourselves that we'd never do to other people. Would you treat anyone else like that? Would you talk to a child like that? Love is patient, Love is kind. Love says, "You poor thing. No wonder you feel this way. It's been tough." Just like your best friend would say after you poured your heart out to her. You don't need a pep talk or a meditation to distract you. You just need some empathy for yourself.
You allow your Light to be reflected back to you.
When you can't rally some compassion for yourself, then seek it out from your friends and heroes, in a healthy way. That's the beauty of being in this together. We can reflect our lovability to each other. When we're blind to our own Light, someone with open eyes can describe it to us: "But you're amazing, and resourceful, and so kind, and totally hot..."
You hang out with people who Love you.
This isn't elitist or self-help snobbery; it's a minimum health requirement. You grow most vigorously in conditions of kindness, resonance, and good laughter. You don't look at relationships like spiritual boot camp (even though they are). You keep your inner circle full of fellow Love Crusaders (and it only takes one other person to have an inner circle).
You prioritize pleasure.
After years of being hard on ourselves and staying stuck in karmic cycles, pleasure-making is courageous. Pleasure heals. Pleasure makes all of the (seemingly) unavoidable hardships of just.being.here. so much easier. Your pleasure empowers you and you know it.
After years of being hard on ourselves and staying stuck in karmic cycles, pleasure-making is courageous.
You reward yourself for trying.
You don't reward yourself only if you achieve what you set out to do. And you don't set up consequences if you fail. You commend yourself for showing up because Loving is an unending process, not a finish line.
You go beyond "tolerating" your so-called shortcomings to actually accepting more parts of yourself.
You may think that tolerating your foibles is an achievement in self-compassion, but tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Tolerance keeps you on guard—you are, effectively, only managing degrees of irritation with yourself. Instead, you accept that, for now anyway, this is what you've got to work with: strength and weaknesses. Doing this creates an intimacy with yourself that can never be interrupted.
You befriend your loneliness.
The ancient philosopher Plotinus said that on the journey to enlightenment, you go from being alone to Alone. The big Alone is what it feels like to experience yourself as the center of your Universe. It's a big job. The upside is that this sense of isolation makes us more responsive and available to connect with the world. We care for our loneliness and we care to connect with the world. We care for our loneliness and we care for others, so we care more about what we're creating in the world.
You have healthy boundaries.
You say Yes when you mean Yes, and No, when you mean No. Because you Love yourself, that's why.
You say Yes when you mean Yes, and No, when you mean No. Because you Love yourself, that's why.
You mean what you say.
Don Miguel Ruiz put it best: "You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-Love. How much you Love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word." You value your time, you value your word, you Love yourself enough to know that every commitment you make—from the time you say you'll show up, to lifetime vows—is sacred, because you are a sacred being.
You take risks.
How can you be afraid once you've seen the Light of yourself? Expanded with Love, you rise up to meet your quantum self. You see what you're really capable of, and you not only trust yourself more, but you trust that life will back you up when you dare to grow.
Loving yourself doesn't mean that you think you're right all of the time. When you're so intimate with yourself, you can see exactly where and when you go wrong and hurt other people. You know that your identity won't shatter when you admit to faults. You've got a foundation of self-compassion and awareness to stand on to say, I'm sorry. I know I can do better, and I will.
You hold out.
Holding out is not the same as passive waiting. It's a kind of stamina that springs forth from self-respect. Self-Love gives you the power to say No, thank you, to walk away, to be at peace with where things are at—or to accept that you're not at peace but that's okay for now. Self-Love sets all your standards.
Loving yourself isn't a luxury or a gift that confident people inherit at birth.
You love yourself like it's your job.
Loving yourself isn't a luxury or a gift that confident people inherit at birth. Love is the journey and the destination. It's how you discern what stays and what goes in your life. Love is the reason you adorn your body and invest in your ideas. Love is your life force, the deciding factor, and your greatest intelligence. Love yourself like your life depends on it—because it does.
You will Love more people, more deeply.
This is the best part. Self-Love expands into Loving others. It's so perfect, and beautiful, and right. You're not trying to attain your own sequestered happiness. You look into your heart and see that it is connected to everyone else's. You feel that mystical and palpable kinship, and you want the same freedoms and fulfillment for others that you want for yourself.
Loving and accepting yourself increases your sensitivity to other people's emotional states. You feel other people's pain and yearnings almost as keenly as your own. And you wouldn't have it any other way.
Here's the white hot Truth: Loving yourself doesn't guarantee that you will be Loved by others.
As a self-celebrating, self-respecting individual, you might really annoy some people. You WILL annoy some people. You will annoy a LOT of people. You will be misunderstood—perhaps thought of as arrogant. You may be uninvited. When you Love yourself enough to say, "This is acceptable in my life and this is not, " you will become unacceptable to other people, especially those who tend to push against your boundaries. (You will also become a magnet for real Love and respect, so don't dillydally with the haters.)
As a self-celebrating, self-respecting individual, you might really annoy some people. You WILL annoy some people. You will annoy a LOT of people.
Some New Age theories tell us that if we Love ourselves, the world will reflect that state of harmony back to us - because the world is our mirror. But it's simply not true. You can own your Love and be met with hatred. That doesn't mean you're not sending the Universe the correct message. It doesn't mean that you're not Loving yourself enough. It means that you're living in a world with other humans who have varying degrees of awareness on their own paths from indifference, to hate, to Love.
The only guaranteed result of Loving yourself is that you will Love yourself.
You're "The One."
Because you said so.
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