On Love Your Self
What an exploration this has been!
The truth of my story is that, for decades, I suffered greatly – not liking who I was, not knowing who I was. Always in reaction mode, always willing to believe the worst of my self and others. Always wanting so, SO desperately to get close – and yet, constantly, throwing up walls because I was so, SO afraid of being rejected.
They say you have to be broken down in order to be built back up again.
When I began this journey, consciously, a couple of years ago, I had no idea where it would lead me. I had no idea the depths to which it would bring me. I had no idea that the coaching program I was creating would require that I fully embrace that which I expected others to accept from me.
I mean, I thought got it. Ten Simple Steps. After all, it flowed from me – was birthed by me. It was as if I knew, from a place beyond knowing, that these simple, simple steps were the way to creating a beautiful and fulfilling life. I was so excited to help others.
Imagine my frustration when I got stuck on the first step: Love Your Self. In short order, the lessons were many and, in true universal fashion, they kept showing up – with increasing frequency and intensity – bearing the message, “Love you. You aren’t going any further until you can love you.”
Because I didn’t. So much programming, so many limiting beliefs. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough. Not enough, not enough, not enough…
And, as I have learnt over the past two years, if I want to be an entrepreneur, if I want to share my message with the world – well, I have to be willing to be seen.
How can others see me, if I can’t even see myself?
This goes deep… Right to the hurts of being ostracized as a little girl.
Because I was different. Because I got my period early. Because I got boobs early. Because I was the dark, curly headed one in a sea of bright heads. Because I wasn’t specifically and conventionally pretty. Because food became my trusted companion, and so did the extra weight that accompanied the eating.
And this difference – this not enoughness, and the bitterness of it all – it followed me. I didn’t know – for so many years, I didn’t know – that I didn’t need to carry it. That I carried these weights – both physical and energetic – for far too long. Hating myself. And hating others, too. Envying the ease with which they seemed to float through life, whilst I struggled with the wondering of why I got the short and shitty end of the stick.
In bringing my businesses into the world, I had a coach who was adamant. You can’t hide behind the internet. You have to go out into the world and be you.
Believe me, sisters – I was petrified.
Why would I want to go out into the world and be me? Why would I risk sure rejection, more evidence that I didn’t belong?
When I was nineteen, I often visited my boyfriend in Boston. While we enjoyed what I still believe was a special bond, his parents openly and actively disapproved of me. Not tall enough, not blonde enough, not thin enough. Not enough, not enough… And one day, his dad showed up unexpectedly. And, young man that he was, instead of facing disapproval for my being there, my closest friend – the person I loved most in the world – told me to get in the closet.
And I did.
I hid in the closet, for almost an hour. A beast, unworthy of being seen. Allowing the message of not enough to sink it’s hooks ever deeper into my DNA.
It took two and a half decades for me to finally have the courage to look the beast in the face. And that was the true beginning of learning to love myself. To get to know myself. To heal my Self. To apologize to the little girl, the teenage girl, the young woman, the adult – who was ridiculed and left out and unloved – who was slowly but surely walled off from the world. And to ask forgiveness for all of the times that I abandoned her, instead of protecting her, and shelled her with the mortars of self-hatred.
Oh, yes. Love Your Self is the first step. The very bedrock foundation upon which the rest of our lives are built. Our relationships, our careers, our dreams.
Sometimes it is not easy.
What’s easy is to fall back into the old patterns. What’s easy is to hang onto the old beliefs.
Doing this work, diving into the places of our shadows and our triggers – and taking responsibility for the outcomes? Vulnerable. Challenging. Scary. Edgy. So much so sometimes that I want to run backwards, screaming for the old me.
And yet, what I know is that there is no going back. And, really, I wouldn’t want to.
Because I DO love my Self.
There is still more – so much more – to learn, to heal, to embrace. But what I now know it that she is articulate, brilliant, passionate – with a loving heart and a keen mind, a creative streak and a warrior soul. She is willing to see where she has fallen down in the past, and forgive herself and gather up the gifts from those dark places. She was put here for a purpose, and she is a part of something amazing. Her journey is a long one, and she will always be the richer for it.
My wish is that each and every woman can come to know and love her Self deeply – and, from that place, unwaveringly shine her brilliance so that others may find the courage to do the same.
Dana Ann Dapolito is a Peak Performance and Transformational Energy Coach, owner of Ten Simple Steps and Performance Energetics, author of Ten Simple Steps: Success. Simplified., and creator of EquiTations: Guided Visualizations for Excellence in the Competition Arena. She is also currently a Sistership Circle facilitator in Reno, NV.
Art by: Lori Portka