By Florencia Vallejo
Manifesto: written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
As stated in the definition, this manifesto expresses my own “policies, goals, and opinions” on self-love and invites the reader to engage in this wonderful movement. It takes my point of view and my experiences and expands to others’ in the spirit of common humanity. With this text, I hope to inspire and connect others to move towards self-love and to make a radical change in the way our world works.
“Those of us who were wounded in childhood knew it because we were in pain. And that pain did not go away even when we left home. More than our pain, our self-destructive, self-betraying behavior trapped us in the traumas of childhood. We were unable to find solace or release. We could not choose healing because we were not sure we could ever mend, that the broken bits and pieces could ever be put together again. We comforted ourselves by acting out. But this comfort did not last. It was usually followed by depression and overwhelming grief. We longed to be rescued because we did not know how to save ourselves. More often than not we became addicted to living dangerously. Clinging to this addiction made it impossible for us to be well in our souls. As with all other addictions, letting go and choosing wellness was our only way of rescue and recovery” (hooks, 212).
- Call for Revolution
Many say 17 is a young age to already know what it is to experience hate. They don’t believe that by the age of seven I was already trying to enhance myself. That by age nine, I was dieting. And by age 14, I was dying. I was, what bell hooks calls, “The wounded child inside many females (…) a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others” (49). From this experience is from where I write, and I say enough with the shit and the lies. I hope many can relate and join me, especially those who “at some point in their lives were socialized to see themselves as unlovable by forces outside of their control” (53). It’s time to start a revolution against societal pressures and to simply love yourself.
2. Misdefinition of Self-Love
It is impossible to say what self-love is, because as unique individuals, we each have a personal definition, but what it is not is selfish. As Rousseau said, it is an act of self-preservation. It is a natural instinct, which mistakenly, as we come to consider Splenda good, we consider self-love bad. Many say it is narcissistic or egocentric (hooks, 66), coming from the belief that self-love and self-esteem are synonyms. Although they are connected, self-esteem comes from placing different worth and value in each individual (Neff 80), whereas self-love comes from embracing and accepting one’s authentic self. “Self-love is the foundation of our loving practice. Without it our other efforts to love fail” (67). Without loving ourselves, there is no way we can love others or serve in community, which is the antidote of egocentrism. This is why it is crucial that we begin a self-love practice today, so we can stop the further spread of negativity and hate; because if love can be spread through kindness, hate can be spread through self-loathing.
3. Why Self-love?
Although I cannot say that today I fully love myself, I can say that I’m willing to learn, and that I will not stop until I achieve it. I’m tired of being afraid of loneliness because of the voices inside my head, so until I learn to embrace my own imperfections and change my inner speech, I will learn how to love, starting from within, because by “giving ourselves love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional love we may have always longed to receive from someone else” (hooks, 67). We often look for what we’re used to, and I’m used to hate, which is not what I want to find in someone else. So first, I must begin by loving myself.
4. Embracing the “Dark Side”
We cannot put out a fire with fire; we need to embrace and accept our personality “flaws” as much as we love our qualities, in order to be able to change them if necessary. We all need to talk about and acknowledge our shadow self. We have to be compassionate and patient with our processes, and extend this compassion to others. From a place of self-love, as I begin to accept myself and respect my authenticity, I come to respect that of my neighbors. From self-love, I let go of all judgment and criticism of myself and of others, and accept them in every way that they choose to express themselves. Only this way can we all feel safe to be “raw”.
5. Rawful Authenticity
Being “raw” is being natural, authentic, honest, and true. First and foremost, it is the acknowledgement of every emotion and feeling, because only by recognizing that it is there, can we overcome it. If we can feel it, we can heal it. It is scary to feel all kinds of emotions—pain, fear, sadness—but with compassion, we can get through them all, as self-compassion exists “not because we want to feel better, but because we feel bad” (Neff 128). As hooks says, we live in a patriarchal world where we are taught to hide our feelings (37), but with self-acceptance we can change that. “[The] gesture of taking responsibility for our own well-being, wherein we confess to our brokenness, our woundedness, and open ourselves to salvation, […] enables us to receive the healing…” (213). Being vulnerable and opening up doesn’t weaken our identity, but rather strengthens it so that we can build community and, together, face challenges and overcome difficulties.
6. Congruency in Appearance
We must connect to our authentic souls before we connect online, but after we make the initial change within ourselves, in order to be congruent, we must extend it to every aspect of our lives. Like in the practice of “conscious living”, where one is aware of everything revolving around their life spheres regarding “actions, purposes, values and goals” and engages in critical reflection and congruent behavior (56), in the spirit of truthfulness and conscious congruency, we can begin modeling what we believe in by starting with our online persona. Social media is a great way to start revolutionizing our social stance, as Holowka suggests, an “inauthentic’ (medium) can be used to express significant and even ‘authentic’ emotions” (Holowka 1). We should use social media not as a way to fit into society, but as a way to express who we truly are and to offer a conscious “critical reflection of the world we live in” (hooks 56).
In order to move beyond the “likes” and appear as “raw” on social media as we are in real life, we must first become our own source of validation. I release my need to prove myself to anyone as I am my own self and I love it that way. I do not post online to get “likes”, I post because what I’m posting reflects and resonates with who I am. I post what is in alignment with my core values. “We can give ourselves the unconditional love that is the grounding for sustained affirmation and acceptance” (67). I am responsible, congruent, and conscious with my thoughts, actions, speech, and posts, in order to live “purposefully” (62).
7. Assertiveness in Relationships
From loving myself, I can move to love others. I am willing to engage in meaningful relationships because I can give what I want to receive (68). Although relationships can bring a sense of fulfillment, I am aware that I am complete on my own and that the other only compliments me. I am content with who I am alone, and from this place, I can commit myself to others. I choose to love and I am responsible of loving (13). From self-love, I develop “self-assertiveness”, and I treat myself with the same respect I treat my neighbor (58). I know where to set boundaries, and with the same wisdom I can decide when it’s time to end a relationship. I know that it is important to place distance when a relationship is not serving any purpose and it’s rather harmful to me or to the other. From a healthy self-love, I choose who I want to relate with and how much.
8. Teaching and Preaching
We know how to love our inner being, we extend it to our external personas, including social media, and then extend it to our relationships; now we can teach it and preach it. I usually avoid any kind of preaching or imposition of one’s beliefs on other people but, ironically, I believe that preaching self-love can only be beneficial. “In an ideal world we would all learn in childhood to love ourselves. We would grow, being secure in our worth and value, spreading love wherever we went, letting our light shine” (68). In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have swallowed my words when I was seven. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have started feeding my emotions when I was nine. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have developed anorexia by the time I was ten. In an ideal world, seven years, three treatment centers, two antidepressants, and a thousand therapy sessions after, I wouldn’t still wake up at night feeling disgusted with myself… In an ideal world, we teach and preach self-love so that we can prevent anyone and everyone from falling into the deception of self-hate. “If we did not learn self-love in our youth, there is still hope. The light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame. It is always present, waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken and call us back to the first memory of being the life force inside a dark place waiting to be born—waiting to see the light” (ibid). The fact that I’m writing this today speaks to that light; that flame, although is barely burning, is there. We all have this flame, it’s part of our nature. Deep inside I know I love myself, which is why I look forward to doing so visibly as well.
If we start little by little, taking baby steps into love, beginning with ourselves, then extending it to others, we can ultimately change the world. If we all begin with self-love, we will have nothing else to give but love. We must believe in the benefits of self-love, and embrace and accept our good and bad sides equally; become authentic, and extend our authenticity in congruency to every aspect of our life. If we teach and preach self-love, there will be no space for fear and hate. If we all believe in the force of self-love, we can change the way society works and come to live from a “love ethic” based on “care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate” (hooks, 101). But first, we must begin by loving our own selves.
Holowka, Eileen Mary. “Between Artifice and Emotion: The “Sad Girls” of Instagram.” n.d. Print.
Hooks, Bell. All about Love: New Visions. New York, William Morrow, 2000.
Neff, Kristin. Self-compassion: Stop Beating Yourself up and Leave Insecurity behind. New York: William Morrow, 2011. Print.