Self-Love, Self-Respect, and Our Power in the World
Dear Rosebud Woman Community,
There's a strong connection between loving yourself and being able to direct resources in the world.
For me, self-love begins with recognizing your own being as worthy of regard, and of being cared for. That's not ego, that's just a fact: you are valuable because you exist. Self-love also involves directing compassion towards yourself and your quirky adaptations to the world, and accepting all of the parts of you.
An under-explored aspect of self-love is how it relates to power in the world.
Power is the ability to get things done, and to swing resources (yours and others') towards accomplishing a particular goal. One can direct resources through persuasion or influence: by getting people interested in changing their habits, or their minds. It can be done through money, or through votes. Some power, or course, is dark power, such as manipulation, lying or violence.
Deep self-respect and self-love help us hold a powerful center, and help us make our dreams a reality or to advocate for justice or do what we are called to do.
I guarantee that if you mind you boundaries, you will have more energy. Even if it looks like, in the short term, you’re taking time away from other people, or taking time away from your work. If you treat yourself this way, you will exponentially increase the energy you have to give to the rest of the world, and to the people you love.
In any case, if you wish to move things in a particular direction, you need to be standing on a strong, stable foundation of your own, with real clarity about what you want to accomplish. If you’re always leaning out into what other people need and moving away from your own stable base, it’s very difficult to have any leverage in outside action. Self-love helps you stay in your own core, and act from a place of strength and stability. That’s one piece of the “power” component.
The other one is related to power on behalf of a class that you belong to. I was very influenced by reading Sonya Renee Taylor’s book The Body is Not and Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love. She talks about how if you’re black in America, or queer, or a woman, you internalize what society believes about your own worth—to such a great a degree that you won’t even stand up for your own value, or of others who share that identity. This has in some contexts been called "internal colonization".They’ve so deeply internalized a denigrated self-worth that they aren’t empowered to advocate for their own class.
But once you thoroughly discover that you’re a magnificent creation of the universe, perfectly deserving of equal treatment and love, you can act from that place in both the social and political spheres. As a woman, that might mean that no one can dissuade you from the fact that you deserve equal health care, equal pay, and the right to work without being harassed. People often think of self-love as just taking care of yourself, for your own good—but it has this much bigger influence.
Historically and traditionally, women’s bodies have been used as a transactional tool to please other people, or for their biological functions. For many women, their sexuality, desirability, attractiveness, and functionality as a child-bearer are all elements of outside perception: You are viewed through the lens of how others perceive and value you. The opposite of this is, “I value my own body for the muscles and the joy and the dancing and the work that it does, and for the fact that it’s alive. I value it for me. Therefore, it is worthy of care for me—not because I’m trying to appear a certain way, or be something for other people.”
Here are some self-love habits:
- I accept and love all of me. I am valuable just as me, and worthy of love.
- I notice (and dismantle) any internalized rejection of myself—any marginalization of me because of my female embodiment.
- I address the needs of my own body and spirit.
- I embrace feeling clear and good, and go as far as I can in that direction. I create the conditions for joy, power, accomplishment and flow.
- I give myself pleasure.
- I learn, know, and pay exquisite attention to my own edges. When I feel anxiety, when I feel anger coming on, when I feel fatigue coming on, I will stop, and not go over the edge. That’s the ultimate in self-care.
- I guard my energy around people who drain, take or alarm me.
- I give my “no” with kindness and without fear. I keep my heart open and stay connected to the other person when I give my no.
That last one is a very important example of how self-love connects with power. Some people have this sense of expressing their “No” that goes something like this: it feels like they rapidly scribble the "no" on a piece of paper, then wad it up into a ball, duck behind a wall and throw the paper at the other person- while crouching down already expecting blowback (as if the no was a grenade!). But WHAT IF you just tell the person what’s going on? You say, “I can’t help you. I love you, but I can’t help you, I’m already over my skis, and I’ve got other priorities. Want a cup of tea?”
And if someone does belittle you, badger you, bully you, withdraw their love or give you blowback in response to your self-knowing decline of their request, that’s abusive: they are probably one of those energy-sucking people that you want to phase out of your life.
You know, the branding of our Rosebud Woman products is very soft: pink and floral and plants and frosted glass and all of that stuff. And our book, The Invitation to Self Care, is also soft. But underlying it all is a very strong message: Stand in your own power, and take care of your own being. Because from that you can do great things in the world.
While we’re working on internalizing a new reverence for ourselves, we’re also working on solving systemic problems that stem from lack of respect for the feminine: Like women’s health, maternal support, and domestic violence. So know that the work you’re doing to take care of your own being, and the new story you’re writing, is rewriting the story for all of us. And that’s true power.
Love and blessing,
Christine Marie Mason
Founder, Rosebud Woman