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A Lesson in Self-Love & Forgiveness

Lissa Rankin's picture


Art by Rita Loyd www.nurturingart.com

Art by Rita Loyd www.nurturingart.com


Are you your own best friend or your worst critic? If, like so many of us, you are your worst critic instead of your best friend, you are not alone. Most of us beat ourselves up a gazillion times worse than anyone else does. We think back on the errors we’ve made in life- and trust me, we’ve all made them- and rather than loving that tender, wounded part of ourselves, we kick it with a sharp jab, right where it hurts the most.

The Nasty Voice of the Inner Critic

Why do we do this? Imagine how much less painful life would be if only we could forgive ourselves for our mistakes, love ourselves when we screw up, instead of beating ourselves up. What would that feel like? Why do we insist on the internal dialogue that sounds something like this:

You’re such a moron for trusting him when he said he loved you. You should have known better. How did you let yourself end up in this situation? You must be completely stupid. But it’s no wonder. Why would anyone want a pathetic failure like you? You’re fat, you’re ugly, and your dumb, so it’s no surprise he treated you like shit.

Or this:

I can’t believe you did it again. Again! What were you thinking, after all your hard work? You promised you wouldn’t do it again, but here you are, you loser, doing the same fucking thing you swore you’d never do. Not only are you a total liar and hypocrite with regard to others, but you can’t even tell yourself the truth. You’re worthless. You deserve to have bad things happen to you.

How I Learned That I Am Loved

Sound familiar? I see some of you nodding your heads silently, chins bowed. How do I know? Because my inner critic has shouted these same thoughts before. By the time I was thirty-three, I was in the midst of my second divorce, and in addition to feeling completely unlovable, I was so pissed at myself for continuing to love the wrong men. I was so afraid of failing twice that I found myself in an abusive marriage with a man who tore up my paintings, put holes in the walls of our home with his fist, and, one fateful day, hit me. And yet, I still believed I had done something wrong. I hadn’t been loving enough. I needed to open my heart to more compassion. I needed to try harder. I needed more therapy. I needed to be more sexual so I could better fulfill his needs. I needed to forgive. Until one day, I found myself at 4am, waiting for him to come home yet again, sobbing on my hands and knees on the tile floor of the kitchen, calling his cell phone for the millionth time.

Then, in a rush of warmth, I felt a wave of peace, and I heard the words, “You are loved” inside my head, and something within me knew it was true. It took me another three months to pack my bags and leave my husband. Even once I did, I faltered. But those words “You are loved” echoed, and I knew in my heart it was time to move on. Leaving my beloved house, my boat, and my garden finalized the process, but internally, I had already left.

Making Mistakes Is Part of Being Human

We all make mistakes or do things we wish we hadn’t. If you haven’t made any mistakes, you’re either not living life fully or you’re completely in denial. It’s a natural part of being whole, to be flawed, to screw up, to fail ourselves and others.

I would argue that those mistakes shape us, transform us even, and offer opportunities for growth. How can we truly regret even the most painful experiences if they help move us to a better place? Sure, we all do things, say things, behave in ways we wish we hadn’t. But if you’re moving in a direction that leads to more joy, can you see that these “mistakes” might be blessings in disguise?

If you can accept that even our screw ups help us grow and evolve, maybe we will find it a wee bit easier to take the next step, which is to forgive ourselves. We all know that self-love benefits many facets of being whole. Self-love leads to better health, better relationships, and more mojo. So we’d better OWN it, right?

Learning To Forgive Others, But Mostly, to Forgive Ourselves

I've long ago forgiven my ex-husband. I bear no ill will towards him and wish him only the best in life, even though we don't keep in touch. But what about myself? That's been the hardest part. Learning to love ourselves is easier said than done. For many of us, it’s easier to love even the vilest human being on earth than it is to love ourselves. Why do we erect these barriers to accepting and nurturing ourselves? Who is going to love us, if not ourselves. I know this may make some of you uncomfortable. You equate self-love with narcissism, and who wants to be arrogant or boastful or narcissistic, right? But these are not the same thing. When you open yourself to self-love, you open yourself to love- period. When you love yourself, you can more fully love others, and there’s nothing narcissistic about that. At the root of most narcissistic behavior is a total absence of self-love. Because a person feels worthless, they must seek attention from the outside world, whereas the Pinkie who loves herself need not seek outside affirmation. She knows, deep within, that she is worthy.

Can You Love Yourself?

What about you, Pinkies? On a scale of 1 to 10 with one being “I despise myself” and 10 being “I adore myself,” where are you? What “mistakes” might you need to forgive in order to love yourself more fully? How can we support you in releasing these self-sabotaging thoughts, so you might open your heart to more joy? Please tell us your stories and let our healing community affirm, honor, accept and love you, in all your wholeness. Let us love on you and let the self-love fest begin...

With wishes that all of you will love yourselves as I love you,



Lissa Rankin's picture

Rita, I do apologize. I have

Rita, I do apologize. I have made that addition. Please forgive the omission. I love your art! With love, Lissa

RITA LOYD's picture

Hello, my name is Rita

Hello, my name is Rita Loyd. You are using my artwork on your website without giving my artwork credit in the post "A Lesson in Self-Love & Forgiveness." I don't mind you using my art but I do ask you to credit my artwork directly below my artwork. And it would be even better if you included my website as well. www.NurturingArt.com

Thank you. Rita Loyd

Lissa Rankin's picture

Oh, what great dialogue here,

Oh, what great dialogue here, Pinkies! Good stuff. I hear you Alice and Sarah. Love yourself as a commandment may feel empty. How can we love ourselves if we don't know ourselves intimately? Perhaps that's where the foreignness comes into play.

The Virginia Satir piece is gorgeous Fred. Love it. It's spot on and even uses our language about OWNING. Perhaps that's why I love that term. Owning does not imply a commandment. And while it references loving, it doesn't demand it. As you say, Alice- it's all about baby steps.

I hope you Pinkies take from these posts what you will and leave the rest if it's not where you're at. These are merely my experiences, not OP commandments. I hope they push your boundaries a little bit, while allowing you to walk your journey at your own pace.

Unconditionally loving you all, just as you are- Lissa

Alice's picture

This is very helpful, Fred.

This is very helpful, Fred.

It doesn't command, LOVE YOURSELF!! Rather, it teaches how to just know yourself first, and that we all have the power to mold ourselves as we want to. I really, really like it.

Thank you for sharing it, and thank you for being YOU.

With love, Alice

Fred's picture

Unconditional self-love is a

Unconditional self-love is a fundamental aspect of personal wellness. But as Alice says, "how" do you do that?

I've found this piece written by psychotherapist Virginia Satir to be really helpful. These are not my words, but I use them all the time in my practice. I hope they are helpful here. -

With unconditional love and acceptance for ALL of you! - Fred

I Am Me, And I'm Ok.

I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it – I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself.

I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts.

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me.

I am me, and I am Okay.

Sarah's picture

Alice I know what you mean.


I know what you mean. Over the last couple years I have practiced accepting compliments but it feels wrong...really wrong. I 'know' that I'm not worthy. The song in my head is sure if they knew who/what/how I really am they wouldn't give a compliment. You explained that feeling of foriegn-nes well. I think, like you, I'm a work in progress-we all are. Loving ones self is difficult.

I look at that commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself' and think 'But they are cool, nicer, smarter, better, more talented,___' and it's easier to 'love' them. What if....what if....we loved ourselves like we love others...Would it be better or worse. Hmmm..now I'm thinking in circles...

You're loved Alice.


Alice's picture

What you write here is so

What you write here is so powerful, Lissa! Your honesty and bravery to share such deep personal stuff always makes me admire you.

I have problems with the self-love thing. I used to not be able to take a compliment...at all. I would just turn it back on the person who said it, unable to accept that it was true at all, because surely they really don't know me if they think I'm (fill in the blank with any sort of compliment here)? Finally, after some energy healing and the persistence of a couple close friends, I have moved to a place of being able to accept that what I'm doing is worthy, helpful even, and that perhaps I am too. It's not easy. My mental tapes are loud and persistent!

I wouldn't say that I "love myself" because that's still a little strong, I think. But I think I'm okay most days, and sometimes even like myself so it's progress. I guess the point is that you can't make it happen overnight.

Even if people are saying "Love yourself! Just open up to it!" It feels like something foreign or I keep wondering exactly "HOW" that can be made to happen. It can't be commanded, I think. Although your "You are loved" experience helped you find it, I haven't had an experience like that so it's up to me to take the baby steps. I'm not at rock bottom in any way, so it's just getting past the self-bashing when I'm not as calm as I should be with my kids, or as productive as I meant to be, or stress is overwhelming, etc. It's a slow process but I think I'm making progress.

Thank you for this powerful post, Lissa. You are loved and admired in huge, Pink ways!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Sarah, Thank you, darling. So

Sarah, Thank you, darling. So are YOU! xoxox

Sarah's picture

Lady....You ARE loved. S

Lady....You ARE loved.


Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you so much Shannon.

Thank you so much Shannon. Yes, it feels vulnerable to tell the truth, and yet, I find that telling my truth among people I love and trust helps me release it. As you say, those old tapes stop having power over us, and we are- every day- closer and closer to being free. Many thanks for the love, sista!

Shannon Elsom's picture

Lissa, I love the depth and


I love the depth and vulnerability of this writing piece. You have touched on so many things that women of all ages encounter in their lives. Self-love and acceptance is the surest route to reclaiming all that has been ripped from us by the lies and distortions that we feed ourselves. It happens with one small step... to choose to no longer abuse ourselves... to fight back against the self-rejection with words of love.

In time, those old tapes start to lose their power, and through our patience, care, and persistence, all that remains is the love... and that is the truth of our being. You are doing beautiful work in the world mama and I celebrate you and all of your incredible growth. Thank you for sharing the gift of yourself with all of us.

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