I’ll never forget the first kiss I gave the girl who would become my wife. It was September 26, 1999. It was at dusk. It was a chilly and windy fall evening by the water at the South Street Seaport in New York City. I was looking into the eyes and heart of the most beautiful soul who had ever come into my life. I asked her for a kiss, and she said yes.
I didn’t know at the time that Dawn Aretha Winfield would become the woman I decided to spend the rest of my life with. But, I did know that what I had with Dawn was different from anything I had ever experienced. We loved each other and accepted the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But we also believed in each other. We believed in the people we could both become separately and together. It’s like we could see the reflection of our highest self and the other person’s eyes, and we wanted to live up to it. It was just right, and it was good.
You know what it’s like when someone loves you and believes in you? It could be anyone. It could be a friend, a teacher, a love, a priest.
It’s as if this person is sent into your life to remind you of who you are and your potential in this world. It’s a wonderful, fulfilling experience.
But being in a place where we can feel this love for ourselves – from within our own hearts – and know that we are Divinely Loved? THAT type of self-love is life-changing. The search for spirituality is connected to self-love.
We want to be loved, feel loved, and feel peace and joy. The desire to find self-love and equilibrium is in us all. It’s literally tied into our DNA.
Why is self-love so difficult?
I once heard a great preacher say that it would be great if we could all live out the scripture. But this sentence assumes that we know how to love ourselves. The truth is, many of us don’t.
When we’re not loving ourselves right now and taking care of the temples of our mind, body, and souls, it can be easy to fall for things that look like love but really aren’t.
Have you ever been in a toxic, unhealthy love relationship, one where you had to get out?
Maybe your partner pointed out all of your flaws instead of celebrating your strengths and talents. And this relationship made you forget how awesome you really are.
Perhaps they are constantly comparing you to others who look nothing like you. Or even worse, they suggested that you change how you dress or that you modify your appearance to make yourself more appealing.
Maybe they had unrealistic expectations for what you should be giving in this relationship. And when you didn’t meet their expectations, they blamed you for not trying hard enough or not giving enough.
How did you feel about that relationship? How do you feel when you see your friends in a relationship like that? You want them to leave, get out and remember who they are, right?
Toxic relationships = toxic relationships with food
This toxic love relationship dynamic is the same dynamic we have when on a diet. Most marketing for diets and beauty plans is designed to focus on your perceived flaws as defined by someone in the marketing department. They want us to focus on fixing what we don’t love about ourselves instead of improving what we do love about ourselves. They use words like “fix,” “reshape,” “enhance,” “improve,” “anti-cellulite,” “anti-aging.” Basically, anti-you!
The underlying message is that you are not good enough as you are right now. You will be more acceptable when you change and be like the men and women in their advertisements who, for the most part, look nothing like you.
Restriction and temptation: A vicious cycle
There are also the harsh controlling rules of calorie restriction and deprivation that are impossible to maintain. And when you finally do succumb to temptation, you tell yourself you didn’t try hard enough, you didn’t have the willpower, or you just didn’t want it enough.
You’re flooded with feelings of guilt and shame and failure because somehow, this is all your fault.
It’s time to consider that the plan is flawed. The whole baseline philosophy doesn’t work. In fact, data shows that 95% of the time, the majority of people break up with their diets after only five-and-a-half weeks, because that’s the length of time that the average person can stick to a diet.
This relationship fails because it really isn’t about you. It’s about them.
The diet industry has always been about THEM forcing you to fit into THEIR rules. The baseline feeling of discouragement, insecurity, and failure seeps into other areas of your life.
But instead of leaving this toxic diet relationship altogether, we run into the arms of another diet partner who sweet talks us and promises us a world of skinniness and lean muscles. We miss the signals that this new diet romance has most of your last-day relationship characteristics.
This relationship is all about them, their plan, way, wisdom, rules, and none of your own relationship centered around the guru. The plan moves forward with no input from you; it’s a relationship that makes you feel dependent and anxious every day.
Your jealous lover even considers it a cheat day. When you have a spoonful of ice cream, your partner sets an end date for your relationship. Sometimes they even let you know this relationship will end in 7, 14, or 21 days. They require you to take extreme measures to prove your love.
Now, years later, you’ve been through a bunch of relationships, still looking for the one. The evidence is clear, but we are also hopeful. We truly believe this time around it’s going to work.
It’s time to let go.
Release yourself from the grip of diet culture and start loving yourself. Quit falling in love with no-good diet partners. No one should make you feel this wrong for so long.
It’s time to put yourself first, to practice self-love, and to recognize that you don’t need diets, that you will work this out on your own terms. You have everything you need to get your health and body to where you want it to be without a system telling you what you need to do.
It’s time to liberate your mind and get back to self-love. Start to see in yourself the highest potential. Start to understand you’ve been through things before.
You’ve learned from those trials, and you already have what it takes to win on your health journey, to win with your self-love, to win with your self-care.
Start loving yourself now, not later. Not when you reach a predetermined goal, not when somebody tells you it’s OK.
Right now, at this moment, look at yourself. Think about yourself, find the good qualities that are in you and fall in love with yourself all over again so you can see your highest self, accept your highest self, and then become your highest self.