Self Love Society #1: Radical Self Love Collective
Hello! Happy Sunday and welcome to the first blog in a BRAND NEW SERIES! As you'll probably know by now, this year Spoonie Village is all about self love, so it makes sense that we'll have a blog series all about loving yourself, right? But the Self Love Society is so much more than just blog posts, and we'll be slowly revealing our plans for it in the coming months, but consider this introduction your teaser to something fantastic!
Anyway, on with the show! This first post has been very kindly penned by the wonderful Nikki from the Radical Self Love Collective, and we think you're gonna love it!
Nikki set up the Radical Self Love Collective in December of last year, following diagnoses of chronic illness (POTS, EDS, MCAS) in 2017, and an ongoing existential crisis. Nikki has first-hand experience of mental health issues; as well as addiction, disordered eating, and self-injury and had worked in alternative therapies whilst training to become counsellor - until she was rudely interrupted by the conditions she lives with today. She now communicates her views on recovery and holistic health, using as many metaphors as she can, on the collective’s blog and social media platforms, believing that radical self-love is the middle finger we all need to throw - to stop us from feeling so anxious and sad about, well, pretty much everything.
To keep up with all of Nikki's middle finger giving, be sure to head on over to radicalselflovecollective.com and give her a follow and some love on her Instagram!
Self-Love: The most radical form of love we can practice in a society that doesn’t back our feelings
I have been asked to write an article about self-love, for Valentines Day. A day I don’t celebrate and have made it perfectly clear why not. My partner has received the full speech, but I will spare you and briefly say this: Love is unconditional, and free. We just haven’t been encouraged to see things in this way.
In fact, when it comes to love, very often the economy works against us and puts our financial worth, productivity, and what we look like way above our self-worth, effort, and the way we really feel.
So I would like to use this opportunity to have a word with you about how, I believe, self-love (in the least corny sense) can change the world that we live in. Because many of us are keen to take care of the world, but aren’t so fierce when it comes to nurturing ourselves. Even if it is the only place we really have to start.
So, with 6(.6) degrees of separation between us, and a society that is growing increasingly anxious, unhappy, and fearful, when will we give up trying to change ourselves in order to fit in, and start paying attention to the way we nurture ourselves, as well as the effect it has on everyone else?
We may all be individual ‘drops in the ocean’, but if we change what we are made of, slowly but collectively we will start to become a part of something completely different. Eventually transforming into whatever it is we are putting in.
We all know how powerful that one really negative person can be in a group. The one that is watching their weight and will breed guilt amongst a group for eating anything that they ‘shouldn’t have’ or ‘aren’t allowed’. Or the one that will cause an atmosphere so thick and dark, no one else is able to relax for fear of breaking an eggshell.
But when it comes to positive change or standing up against common belief and systems of power, people have believed that making changes isn’t ‘worth it’. Maybe because they have felt that alone they won’t make much of a difference. Still, year-on-year groups of people are changing things. People who share a common belief, and are living for themselves, and the causes that are important to them.
Tech isn’t all positive but, bear with me because, we can see this all working very effectively online.
There are groups of supportive individuals coming together to speak out against parts of society that they feel no longer serve them, everyone else, nor the planet. There are movements of people who are so sick of being shamed for their bodies, they are getting together in force against diet culture and ‘beauty standards’. Individuals who have come together to address issues in their community surrounding accessibility. People advocating for one another because they feel that, together, they can make changes in our society, raise awareness, and gain support.
And, even though in some areas we seem to have to reach near breaking point, very slowly chronic illnesses are getting discussed in parliament, issues surrounding body positivity and mental health are being addressed in the media, and there is a greater understanding about effects of the current system on our health (and happiness). And the need to attend to our own feelings.
If with this you can imagine that every choice that you make will influence somebody else around you, and that you are only 6 factors of separation away from everybody else on the planet, we can start to see how much influence we can really achieve.
Imagine if every advertisement that sparked fear inside us was no longer successful - because we embraced growing older, or felt comfortable in our own bodies, as well as with who we are.
We would not be handing over our money to industries that made us feel insecure: not only in the way we look and behave, but in our society as well - because, we would be happy and secure in what we have and wouldn’t ‘need’ anymore.
We would not buy magazines that told us how to ‘lose weight fast’, ‘satisfy your partner in bed’, or body shamed perfectly natural body traits - because we wouldn’t be insecure about our bodies, or feel as though we weren’t ‘enough’ in our relationships.
Really, look at every advertisement you see. What are they selling? Fear. Fear of fat, sugar, crime, missing out, ill health, weight gain, infidelity.
We’re constantly being sent messages about how bad things are, how scary, how quickly we have to act!
But we do not have to buy into that. We can vote for something else. We can vote with our time and attention, we can vote with our actions, we can vote without words, we can vote with our money.
And when we do this: being content with who we are, starts to become a revolutionary and rebellious act.
The most radical form of love we can practice in a society that does not back our feelings of trust and respect towards ourselves - and actually works hard against them, to keep us unsatisfied, and motivate us to spend more money - is self-love.
We have been taught to hate ourselves, and it is my aim, in even a small way, to be able to help people realise that this isn’t natural.
Women aren’t born with imposer syndrome. Men aren’t born feeling as though some of their emotions are unacceptable or shameful. This is something that the past and today’s society has done to people.
We have been told that our worth centres around our productivity. That having no ‘sick days’ is an achievement.
That weight loss, being ‘pretty’, and our ability to nurture others, over and above ourselves, is the price that we have pay to be valued in the world as a woman.
That physical strength, emotional distance, and our ability to be the provider, no matter the personal cost, is the price that we have to pay to be valued in the world as a man.
And that any experience of mental illness, ill health, addiction, disability, or neurodiversity, the list could go on, is a flaw. And it absolutely (how much am I having to try not to swear) isn’t!
Self-love and connection will start to address the real isolation, fear, discontent, and restlessness in society. It will put us first and stop sticking novelty plasters over our very real pain. Putting our ability to be vulnerable and different ahead of silently conforming.
We are starting to see things in a new way. I really believe that.
The old ways of thinking: limited gender roles, narrow ideas around beauty, health, success, and ability? They are breaking down.
All of these things, the things that don’t serve us, will die away when we stop paying into them. They cannot survive without us.
I think that when people hear about ‘self-love’ or ‘self-care’, they think of baths and face masks, or protein shakes and stretching. But that’s self-limiting. We are far more powerful than that.
We will begin to see how self-love can affect the world we live in, when we start to put some major energy into exploring our self-hate, and where that comes from, in order to restore self-love.