Today’s Food &Love Hack centers around the notion that much of our problem in loving ourselves lies in apologizing for who we are.
Apologize when you should, but never when you shouldn’t.
This is a phrase that I’ve been pinning up on my wall for almost a decade now. I don’t know when I picked it up, but it’s crucial to the way that I live my life. When I err, I own it. I’m a human, and I suck at being good just as much as — if not far more so — than the next guy.
But otherwise, no, I do not say I am sorry. I am not sorry for how I feel, I am not sorry for how I look, I am not sorry for my existence, for my clothes, for my ideas, for my history, for my self, for my presence, for my will, for my dreams, for my life. I have nothing to apologize for, and you will never see me do so.
Or at least I hope not. I try.
And it’s funny but– that above paragraph, does it feel abrasive to you? In-your-face? Presumptuous? Pushy? Sassy? Assertive?
Well, it is, but it isn’t. Either way, it’s a shame that we so often cast unapologetic living in a negative light. Why do we do that? Really, why? Is there actually a necessary tie between un-apology and aggression?
No, I don’t think there is.
I have a feeling that we associate unapologetic living with unconsiderate living, but that could not be further from the truth. And we consider unapologetic living as synonymous with imposition, but that is not the truth either. Being unapologetic for who you are and what you look like is in no way an imposition on the people around you. It isn’t, it isn’t, holy crap it isn’t.
What is an imposition on people around you is ignoring their desires, pushing your desires on them, or actively imposing or impinging on their lives. But you can have your own desires, and be contained within your own self, without ever pushing that on others. They are contained in their selves, and you in yours. Be gentle, be open, be in conversation. Share with people your feelings, and respect theirs. Dress and act and treat yourself as though you are beautiful, all the while doing the same for others. There is no limit on respect and love in the universe. You have infinite amounts of it for yourself, as much as you do for others.
Give others the gift of beauty and love, and give them to yourself, too.
You are contained within yourself, and you have nothing to apologize for.
You are beautiful, and you being beautiful does not make me less so. Beauty is not a limited pool. Everyone is beautiful.
There are no flaws, only differences.
So do not apologize for the way you look. You have a history, you have a context, you have a whole life and a whole heart and a whole person thrumming within your being. Nobody knows all of it. Nobody does. Only you. So only you have the power to embrace and to hold and to stand up for that being. Do not apologize for that story. You have evolved over a complex set of decades through big events that happened to and through you, and all of that lovely complexity has made you uniquely you.
You have a soul, a life, preferences, physical and spiritual and cognitive and wacky and otherwise.
Own them, and walk gently in the world, and be unapologetic in your skin.
It is, after all, the only skin you’ve got.
And that ownership, that confidence, that brilliance, that comfort… it enables us to love ourselves powerfully.
And to share that love in return. To affirm others.
When we stop apologizing for who we are, we become beacons. A la the Marianne Williamson quote I shared last week:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
One more, this time from Margaret Cho, is particularly relevant this week, and on PfW’s homepage:
“I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they see me. And ithsa nothing to do with what I look like really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that I am beautiful, and if I coulddo that, mabye there is hope for them too. And the great divide between the beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are all what we choose.”
Practice the art of non-apology. Start catching yourself when you do it. When the word “sorry” comes out of my mouth, am I apologizing for a feeling, a desire, an idea, a choice? Something I said but is not offensive? This is a very practical way to quantify how much we apologize for who we are.
Take note, and then talk to yourself about it. Ask: why did I say that? And respond: No, there’s nothing wrong with my desire, it’s just a part of me. I have a will and a heart, and I am worthy of respect. I am worthy of my love. I am sorry if my action hurt people, but I am not sorry if I am acting morally and thoughtfully and gently all the while being unapologetic.
There are more subtle ways in which we apologize, however. Do we want to wear a certain piece of clothing but feel bashful? Avert your eyes on the subway? Keep your mouth shut when people are talking about their ideas, or about preferences on what to do? Do you let others make choices for you because you’re afraid of asserting your will? Do you best to note these occasions as well.
State your preferences sometimes. Dare to act sexy and confident sometimes. See how it feels. Try it on. Take it off if it feels comfortable, then try again. Keep doing it. It’s an act of practice, and learning that the unapologetic space is actually not so scary after all over time. Nor offensive. It just is, and beautifully.
Tape reminders up on your wall.
There are no flaws, only differences.
Everyone is beautiful, and everyone is worthy.
You are a self and a human and a life and a love, and there is nothing aggressive about owning and cherishing and caring for that being. This endeavor is only good, empowering and an act of the most supreme liberation.
Be exaltant, be free, be you.