12 June, 2017
Oftentimes when my clients hear the concept of “self-love” it’s met with a sideways glare and suspicion. Rightfully so, as most people come to therapy after experiencing more than their fair share of loss. They’re not quite able to jump on the love train right away.
The journey back to love and joy-filled heart is a long one, but it’s even longer when we isolate and shut people out. So often I see clients who come in to “do the work of getting stronger,” meanwhile no one around them knows anything about their personal struggles. They’re too afraid or embarrassed to reach out.
It is impossible to feel love again without support and accountability from others. This was so beautifully described in an article that I recently read about a Maximilian sunflower called Men and Women in Search of Common Ground. Here is an excerpt:
Some time ago I was with Wes Jackson, wandering among the experimental plots at his home and workplace, the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. We stopped by one plot that had been planted in various densities of population. Wes pointed to a Maximilian Sunflower growing alone, apart from the others and said, “There is a plant that has ‘realized its full potential as an individual.’” And clearly it had: It had grown very tall; it had put out many long branches heavily laden with blossoms–and the branches had broken off, for they had grown too long and too heavy. The plant had indeed realized its full potential as an individual, but it had failed as a Maximilian Sunflower. We could say that its full potential as an individual was this failure. It had failed because it had lived outside an important part of its definition, which consists of both its individuality and its community. A part of its properly realizable potential lay in its community, not itself.
So often we define power in terms of “strength” and “independence.” We disappear, patch up our wounds, and take all measures necessary to prevent people from seeing our true pain.
But it seems that real power is in connection. In daring to be vulnerable, and cozying up to people you can trust. Someone who is willing to love you until you can love yourself.