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THE CIRCLE: The radical act of self-love

The art of self-love underpins all my life-learning lessons. Boldly aspiring to accept the mirrored reflection is desired in this world. When I am struggling to love, respect, and honour myself, it is critical that I move from a ‘why me?’ mindset, to a ‘what did this teach me’ moment. This subtle shift signals to be kinder and gentler in the lifelong re-learning process, and to be kinder to myself as well. Working to improve our self-awareness can be natural, and we — as a society — should be normalizing it.
While the re-exploration journey of self can be trying, and at times contain a lot less joy than I would like, the ability to view oneself introspectively can provide great, perhaps unmatched clarity. Throughout the experience of introspection, we often find out what we’re truly made of. Sitting with pain, absent of shame, judgment, or laying blame isn’t easy, but it is a part of the process. I am often reminded that you can only meet another, to where you may safely be met at. Enlightenment is often discovered within the struggle itself, enmeshed in the messy, ugly, and complicated life circumstances. It’s all necessary.

And yet, accepting a distorted image of self is problematic for many reasons. I’ve previously had relationships that functioned as healing vehicles when I lacked capacity to love myself. In those relationships, I kept thinking to myself, if I can learn to love the other person, I’ll be able to truly love and accept myself. While centering the narrative on others is necessary self-exploration work and therefore also a part of the bigger picture, losing your identity in the process is not. Taking a step back to view to separate self from circumstances requires the practice of kindness, for both others and yourself. The journey of extending kindness, compassion, joy, and of course love, to yourself, is often considered radical in the mainstream.

Learning requires humility, patience, and ownership of your part. I am learning that forgiveness also plays a huge role. Consistently meeting myself with compassion proves challenging, but I am learning to forgive where it’s necessary. While knowledge is infinite and learning is a lifelong process, I am reminded to be gentle with myself. The space that I willingly hold for others must be extended to all parts of me; I owe to myself the same compassion and understanding that I give to others. With all the tools and a virtual world at our collective fingertips, we can co-create a space where self-love is routinely commemorated within society. A safe space to give voice to our aspirations — and the echo that comes back to uplift and affirm, that is a radical act in itself.

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About The Author

Janine Seymour is an Anishinaabekwe organizer and lawyer practicing in Kenora.