Coaching Journal

On Self-Love

John Owens

On Self-Love

I know well that I am not the only one in the world that has carried some elements of self-hatred or non-acceptance of parts of oneself. For a long, long time I felt a core distress that something was “wrong” with me, and that I’d be abandoned. This belief was like a curse that hung like an evil talisman on my neck through life. It was not visible every day of the week. Sometimes I’d go for weeks, or a month or more feeling pretty whole, without the reminder that I carried that cursed, self-limiting belief that something wrong / abandonment was my fate in life.

The curse followed me like a vulture on a battlefield of ‘life’. As I acted out my resentments and isolation, unconsciously pushing people from me with my woundedness, the vulture would remind me, “See? This is what you get for your life: loneliness and broken heartedness. This is your doom.” I did things that hurt myself and others. And then I felt sorry for myself that my life was so bad. I was not conscious of it in this way, but I was unknowingly committed to living the life of a victim.

Fast forward now through years of personal growth work, emotional recovery work, community building. I did many good things for myself and others. I got clear about what my curse was, and I became conscious of how it showed up in my life. I developed to the point that I was aware I had a choice to either act out my victim beliefs, or act from a place of power and possibility. Still, the belief, like that vulture, followed me faithfully, often silently, and would then appear whenever things got hard, or messy or lonely.

As a life coach, I do my best to model what I want for my clients. I keep stretching, deepening my learning, expanding my range. I have my own coach to help me as part of being consistent with what I want for both my clients (and potential clients) and for myself. It was my coach who asked me some probing (and uncomfortable) questions that helped me realize that my identification with brokenness and isolation were no longer hanging from my neck. Out of habit, and for an occasional excuse to play small, I was (figuratively) carrying my old curse in my pocket. Occasionally, I got taken in by it, buying into its suffocating belief. But the truth is I no longer have a need for that part of me that allows me to feel I am a victim and excuses me to play small with my life.

One rainy night, I was with some close friends. I retrieved a few shards of pottery that I use to line the bottom of planters from the garage. I went out into my back yard with my friends, avoiding the garden where I give loving attention and frequently dig things up. I dug a hole in the ground, and named the shards as my self-limiting beliefs one by one. I jiggled them in my hands, feeling the jagged edges and clatter they made against each other. It felt appropriate that these hard, sharp and toneless pieces find a permanent home in Mother Earth on this dark and rainy night. Mother Earth gives and receives unconditionally. I had carried these pieces with me long enough. I buried them, and they, the curse, is gone, broken.

A week later I received the gift of recovering parts of myself: my exuberance and my eccentricity. I welcomed that back into the fabric of all that I am and all that I do, including my leadership and coaching work. It has been liberating for me, and those who know me see a delightful difference. With that wonderful sense of wholeness that I feel each day, I wrote these words that I share with you now. Each time I read or think of them the gravitational pull to lose myself becomes ever weaker, and the celebration of my purpose for being in this time and place soars, paradoxically, a little higher and a little closer to Earth.

In celebration of my wholeness, I wrote these words that follow. It’s a powerful antidote to the old messages that held me down for so long.

I love who I am. I love my heart. I love my range, my voice, my humor. I love my brilliant mind. I love the music that plays boogie-woogie in my soul. I love the natural world that I attract, and that attracts me. I love the work I do in the world to lead toward wholeness, love, peace, Namaste.

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