making love, masks we wear when making love

Self Love: A Recipe for Integrity

Self-love can easily be misunderstood, misguided and misjudged, but by defining how you love yourself, you’ll inspire, heal and reinforce your personalized definition.

Does self-love mean having the free-spiritedness to dance naked on a beach? Or religiously staring at yourself in the mirror and reciting affirmations? Or dodging negative people or situations at all costs? Or focusing on balls of light to help instill peace? Or rising above all things irksome?

It could be all of those things; but also, very likely, it isn’t any of these things.

Since self-love is such a personal experience, I took a quick poll to hear how other women were defining self-love for themselves. Here’s what they replied:

“Self-love to me…. is never ending because as a person you are always changing and growing and in that sense you learn to love who you were, who you are and who you will become.” – Amanda H.

“Self-love to me, is tuning into me, which includes living by and loving and re-evaluating my values, and what is important to me. What do I need right now? How can I serve and be in alignment to my truths? And a whole lot of compassion for ourselves on this human journey. So, for me, with self-love there is a lot of nature, digging into my own depths, playing, standing up for what I believe in, finding solutions, presence, acceptance…. I’m sure I will think of more.” – Cristina L.

“Self-love for me is nurturing my heart and soul everyday.” – Minty

“While I can’t articulate it fully just yet, I know that it is strongly tied to my ability to be at peace, mindful, tuned in, and still. It involves caring for all aspects of my self, not just the mind and spirit but also the body (which I had neglected and considered to be less important or meaningful a pursuit for such a long ass time). It’s a combination of ease and effort—trusting myself easily plus trusting myself when it’s tough and takes some hard work and focus. It’s getting to know oneself—what one likes and loves and what repels. And allowing oneself more of the former and less of the latter.” – Crecia C.

“Self-love = acknowledging my inherent inner value and beauty.” – Kristin F.

This all confirms that each of us has oodles of wisdom in how we define love for ourselves, and each of us has a unique self-love inventory.

It also confirms that we’ve come a long way from the first definition in Wikipedia:

“Self-love has often been seen as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness.[1]”
….In 1956, however, psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm proposed that loving oneself is different from being arrogantconceited or egocentric, meaning instead caring about oneself, and taking responsibility for oneself”. -wikipedia.com

Bravo to all of you who’ve been defining self-love without seeking the definition from anyone but yourself, because “taking responsibility for oneself” means defining self-love on our own terms.

For me, self-love is about being free from self-judgment, and giving myself permission to follow my own compass towards what feels good, right and true.

I’ve learned that no matter how much “work” I do to “love myself”, prioritizing work, including “self-help work”, and under-prioritizing pleasurable things comes from needing to be in control. Focusing on “improving” either to tame a sense of unsettled unease… aka anxiety… or to tame the dreadful thought that there’s something wrong or deficient… aka shame… makes us feel ‘in control’, but it gets in the way of loving, trusting and valuing the self. It also gets in the way of building trusting relationships, and surrendering control to reach unleashed orgasms. Instead of working to improve, experiencing pleasurable things can be the quickest way to appreciating ourselves, without having to change anything. Self-love.

My saving grace to accepting every part of myself, from deep grief to great echelons of deservingness, was connecting to my sensuality and making self-love a ‘way of being’, instead of something that needs to be ‘worked on.’ Connecting to sensuality essentially facilitates the purpose of a human “being”—to “be” more and to “do” less.

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I understand that sharing the intimate details of my sensual explorations may cause raised eyebrows, in varying degrees of disbelief, ranging from ‘wowzers you did THAT?’ to ‘that’s so private!’ So I feel compelled to illuminate why I share about my personal intimacy.

The short answer is that I believe with every bone of my body that it’s everyone’s birthright to experience profound self-love, and the most healing way to do that on a cellular level is by consciously connecting to pleasurable sensations.

And the long answer is…

I do it because I believe the best wisdom comes from sharing what you know from experience and letting it be a beacon to inspire personal wisdom in others. I don’t believe in gurus. The answers are inside each of us.

I do it because I want to encourage anyone and everyone to reconsider what they’ve been taught as “appropriate” or “not appropriate” or “shameful” or “not shameful”, and to make new agreements with themselves about what feels good, right and true.

I do it to break through any walls of judgment that assume sensuality is hedonistic, lascivious or indulgent, or that connecting with sensuality deliberately assumes being sexually racy or prurient (which I recently learned means encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters… and that diverges from my point).

I do it to bust through the cumulative, collective and silent shame that keeps people from embracing sensuality, denying it as a direct experience of beauty, and as a powerful healing practice.

I do it because sensuality is like the middle child who’s overlooked in the self-love equation. The stigma that sex “should be private”, infers that it’s not ok to talk freely, publicly about our divine right for pleasure, and about how our attentiveness to pleasure helps to glean wisdom from our bodies. It’s time we give that middle child some attention.

I do it because I know that healing and long-lasting change needs to happen at a cellular level. Otherwise, our bodies will continue to hold onto the coding that sends those whispering thoughts to our brains, “You’re not enough”, “You need to do more” and “You need to work harder”, and the old patterns of doing more and working harder for love, security, joy, or bliss will persist.

I do it because I know what impenetrable loneliness feels like, and it has nothing to do with being alone, and everything to do with not knowing how to be yourself and feel at home in your own skin.

I do it because believing in the myth that true love is scarce or elusive means believing that the love inside yourself is scarce and elusive. And that makes things confusing when it comes to making choices in intimate relationships. I can attest to this from the time I rallied myself to go on a blind date with a bi-sexual man because I judged myself as too judgmental if I declined. Which leads me to the next point.

I do it because giving myself permission is the strongest weapon for breaking down judgment. And by giving myself permission to explore the fibers of judgment-free self-love and pleasurable things, I hope it will give others permission to do the same.

IMG_6602
?celiabasto.tumblr.com

I won’t lie, writing a blog of this nature, exposing my own personal laboratory to the world, both in love and sex, feels a bit like being an awkward teenager showing up at a school dance for the first time, overwhelmingly aware of being watched and never having danced a slow dance before.

Yet I’m eager to spread seeds of wisdom that emerge from seeking what all souls want: Love.

And each deep dive I take into myself, I get closer to what I consider the ultimate privilege in this lifetime: To intimately feel love and freedom in every moment. That’s my trump card definition for self-love.

I’m continually motivated by knowing that the more we love ourselves, the more we’re available to be loved and to love others.

And that leads me to constantly conduct an inventory on my self-loving love… Here’s some of what it includes:

Self-love is dancing with reckless abandon. Click To Tweet

Self-love is expressing feelings through flying snot and the flushed-faced fear of being judged or, worse, losing someone I love, when the alternative is losing myself.

Self-love is having the heart and the foresight to forgive myself before I blame myself (or someone else!).

Self-love is resisting the militant push to do better, and giving a tender loving squeeze to the part that feels I’m not measuring up.

Self-love is about pressing pause and asking, what turns me on? Click To Tweet

Self-love is about saying no to someone, while I’m saying a jazz-handed yes to myself…even if I’m afraid of disappointing them—or, worse, disappointing my ego’s need to feel wanted.

Self-love is about being generous in a way that sparks joy, and dethrones a sense of obligation. Click To Tweet

%ulative, collective and silent shame that keeps people from embracing sensuality, denying it as a direct experience of beauty, and as a powerful healing practice.

I do it because sensuality is like the middle child who’s overlooked in the self-love equation. The stigma that sex “should be private”, infers that it’s not ok to talk freely, publicly about our divine right for pleasure, and about how our attentiveness to pleasure helps to glean wisdom from our bodies. It’s time we give that middle child some attention.

I do it because I know that healing and long-lasting change needs to happen at a cellular level. Otherwise, our bodies will continue to hold onto the coding that sends those whispering thoughts to our brains, “You’re not enough”, “You need to do more” and “You need to work harder”, and the old patterns of doing more and working harder for love, security, joy, or bliss will persist.

I do it because I know what impenetrable loneliness feels like, and it has nothing to do with being alone, and everything to do with not knowing how to be yourself and feel at home in your own skin.

I do it because believing in the myth that true love is scarce or elusive means believing that the love inside yourself is scarce and elusive. And that makes things confusing when it comes to making choices in intimate relationships. I can attest to this from the time I rallied myself to go on a blind date with a bi-sexual man because I judged myself as too judgmental if I declined. Which leads me to the next point.

I do it because giving myself permission is the strongest weapon for breaking down judgment. And by giving myself permission to explore the fibers of judgment-free self-love and pleasurable things, I hope it will give others permission to do the same.

IMG_6602
?celiabasto.tumblr.com

I won’t lie, writing a blog of this nature, exposing my own personal laboratory to the world, both in love and sex, feels a bit like being an awkward teenager showing up at a school dance for the first time, overwhelmingly aware of being watched and never having danced a slow dance before.

Yet I’m eager to spread seeds of wisdom that emerge from seeking what all souls want: Love.

And each deep dive I take into myself, I get closer to what I consider the ultimate privilege in this lifetime: To intimately feel love and freedom in every moment. That’s my trump card definition for self-love.

I’m continually motivated by knowing that the more we love ourselves, the more we’re available to be loved and to love others.

And that leads me to constantly conduct an inventory on my self-loving love… Here’s some

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