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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

The Art Of Love: What would a person who loves themself do? (Part I)

Hear Ye - Hear Ye

Finally, a new blogpost. All shiny and brand new. All ready to continue this ongoing journey of self reflection, self discovery and self growth.

I have not been idle though, in fact, I am proud to present to you, my beloved souls, a new section on this website: The Onion Cycles Podcast.

If you feel called to dive in and join me on this new medium, this sacred space of vulnerability, this quest to discover authenticity through a healing journey that is unique and special to every single one of us, please do. I am honoured to have you join all of us sparkling, beautiful, healing onions.

For those who have come here because you have been listening to Story 9, episode 9: The Art Of Love, Part 1- this is the link that will get you directly to the part we were talking about in our time together, depicting the ways I myself have implemented this week’s self-love exercise.

Now, for all of you magical souls that have just tuned in and thus have no clue what I am talking about- let me do what I love most and elaborate:

In our podcast we have dedicated one month to the all encompassing, all consuming, essence of human’s efforts, the key to fulfilment, the last piece of the puzzle that makes all of us whole again: LOVE.

Obviously, one month is not enough, nor is any other measurement of time conceivable by us mortals, still we start somewhere. During these four weeks, there will be four episodes, four blogpost accompanying these, as well as the usual four worksheets displaying what we discussed and what, if it resonates with us, we can actually do to become active rather than stay passive about our healing. For the topic of love, I rely heavily upon Erich Fromm’s essay, published in the 1950’s, that is available to everyone to read or listen to: ‘The Art of Loving’.

We are going to have other grand voices of inspirational people mixed in as well, yet, the whole idea for this month dedicated to love as a whole, was derived because I stumbled across his essay, therefore, he gives us the framework to explore.

I myself have been, until I came across his proposition, of the opinion that love is something that just is, just happens- we fall in or out of love, it is there or it is not. However Erich Fromm proposes that, as with every other art form, love can indeed be attained through theory, practice and dedication, at least parts of it. It is through this lens that he makes his very valuable points and suggestions. I highly recommend you do your own research and read or listen into the whole essay yourself, because he covers a lot in it and we will, for now, be merely touching the very surface of his given theorem.

It is quite easy starting off with stating that we as humanity have been building our view of love on three false premises:

  1. We are more concerned with ‘how to be loved/ how to be lovable’ than we are with ‘loving’

In this statement we ultimately strive to be successful, attractive and have a pleasant set of manners, that lead us to be perceived as popular and having sex-appeal. Through accomplishing power and wealth, dressing smart, toning our bodies and tending to beauty routines and maintenance, by being inoffensive, conversational, helpful, modest - we all try to present ourselves as being lovable, winning friends that will love us, influence people that show us our worth and give us love.

2. ‘Love is simple but finding the object to love is difficult’ contains the second false premise. Here we have a society that has changed from love being something that develops after marriage, after being bound together based on social and socio-economic considerations, to a culture that is obsessed with love at first sight where the romance comes first, the focus on the object of love presides the focus on the functionality and compatibility. He views this process through our capitalistic, materialistic hunger to buy. Similar to going out and finding a good bargain, we go into the world and transcend our economic system into that of human love relationships. He proposes that a mutually favourable exchange with a nice package of qualities that are sought after and popular on the personality market, enables me to get something somewhat similar to what I have to offer. Thereby mentioning that the so-called ‘personality market’ is meant to be understood as both mentally and physically, and that the specifics of which starkly depend on the ever changing fashion of the times. Contemplating on that, I believe personally, that the saturation of the market has been radically increased through the fast-moving, supposedly timesaving world of instant gratifications.

3. Finally he suggests, as mentioned earlier, that the notion of falling in love is opposing the desired outcome of being (permanently) in love. He describes the initial excitement when two strangers meet, combined with sexual attraction and consumption, as leading to an immediate tearing down of walls, the walls of separation, leading to exhilaration, to oneness. As oneness is what is at the core of every endeavour we as humans take on, from fear to love, evaporated borders equal closeness like never before. And so, in the majority of cases, it also will never be the same again. The sudden intimacy is confused with true, deep, sincere, everlasting love. When in fact, most times, when we are crazy about each other, we only reveal the truth of our very deep loneliness, the big gap between at-one-ment with ourself, and the world at large. No surprise that over time this disappears, wether we stay in a committed relationship or marriage or situationship - the initial spark more often than not evaporates and draws attention to compatibility, values, mindsets that are either there or not.

To me, all of these points have been true in the past and learning about it in such a matter-of-fact way illuminated a lot of relationships, not just those of a romantic nature, in a new light. Agreeing or not agreeing with it is one way to go about discovering this subject of love. Personally, I choose to be curious and stay curious about all that I never heard before, especially if it triggers some emotion within, even more if I initially reject the idea. There is always something hiding behind rejection as a clear indicator that our judgement needs to be assessed. With this essay, the most compelling factor though was the conclusion he made after this first introduction.

He says that in any other context, if we fail over and over again, we tend to investigate, look close and dive deep into the subject matter to see where we were erroneous, where we took a wrong turn and how we actually can improve the outcomes. Yet, with love, no one ever really does. We say things like this happens, we say love randomly pops up and then disappears again, we say it wasn’t love and go on about our lives.

What if we would stop doing that?

We dedicate so much of our time to work, success, achieving material goals and attaining physical prowess, we invest so much energy in improving our appearances, our homes, or numbing out our life experience on weekends of partying with drugs and alcohol, we consume so much of our life force away with over eating, over shopping, over compensating, over working. What if we cut our losses and dedicate some of this time to investigate our relationship with love. What if we dump the instilled conditioning that love is profitless because it profits the soul?

Isn’t love the ultimate craving, the essence of our longing?

We need to investigate, not settle. And yes, fear is what prevents us to look closer at our own relationships with people, for what we may discover might change our lives forever.

In any other art form that we put so much hope in though, and yet failure follows regularly, we would investigate long and deep.

We need to treat love more like an art form.

This requires learning theory, practice and show utter dedication.

And here we are - in our first week of taking Erich Fromm’s propositions and starting this discussion about love. In this first episode we set the mood for the task ahead. And one of the core exercises we are going to do during this month kicked off. The reason why I put this first exercise right at the beginning, way before we even covered the theory of self-love, is this: From self-love everything else will come naturally, effortlessly. However, self -love is also the hardest thing to acquire. Because first we have to understand in what ways we do not love ourselves, work through that, put piece by piece back to the whole and restore our oneness with self, through love. Yet, ultimately every bit of theory we will cover contributes to understand love better as a whole, therefore serving us to understand better what self-love can look like for us.

The exercise I am talking about is something that I came across after joining a self-love challenge, initiated by Teal Swan. She has a ton of resources available for free on YouTube and in 2021 her self-love challenge asked its participants to ask themselves this very question every single day for the duration of the challenge:

‘What would a person who loves themself do?’

Therefore, I brought this question in as well. And it is a powerful one. One that I have not been able to fully grasp, even now. When I did the challenge three years ago, a simple thing like discerning if taking a break to watch content and binge-eat is something a person who loves themself would do or not, I could not find an answer. Most of the times during this month, when I posed this question, I had no answer, no intuitive feeling, no clue. Looking back I now know I had not been able to grasp the concept because I had to first develop a multitude of other concepts about myself to even get to the bottom of the meaning, the importance, the magnitude, form an understanding of myself.

As announced in the episode, I will publish these blogposts to let you in on my personal journey throughout the airing of the podcasts concerning this topic, asking myself this same question that I invite you to ask yourself.

What would a person who loves themself do?

The week started off, in general calm, with a lack of sleep due to heavy storms that caused a level of noise I could not sleep through. I was not, however, in a bad mood, I did my morning ritual and I ended up in the shower. It happened quite intuitively that my head jerked upwards, I didn’t move and in my mind this very question popped up. Usually I try to get through with stuff. As with everyone else, my week is tightly packed and I still work on my relationship between worthiness and accomplishment. So while ‘having a quick shower’ I was motionless for a second, contemplating this question and immediately noticing that, indeed, if I would truly love myself, I’d let myself enjoy this. Firstly because most days I feel cold to the bones and only get cosy and warm during night time when I have my blanket right up to my chin, sometimes even over my head. Meaning that a hot shower would be something to savour, rather than rush through. Secondly, precisely because I have a tight packed to do list, wouldn’t it be nice to have 15 minutes enwrapped in warmth and bliss, than 10 and not really being present for them to begin with? And also, isn’t being present exactly what I would strive for if I’d loved myself enough, cared about myself? Because I am most happy whenever I am present and time fades away. So I decided to take what we talked about in our episode called ‘Rituals & Routines’ and connected it to the very straightforward realisation that a person who loves themself would imply all senses in relishing these 15 minutes of wholesomeness.

And I did.

In turn, the rest of the day did not go by in a daze and I did not feel exhausted or rushed or like I am constantly running out of time. I was quite present and I fondly remembered the choice I made that morning as a sign for my growing appreciation for myself.

Near the middle of the week, still with the ongoing raging of the storm, my sleep continued to leave space for improvement. I was alright most days, one specific day after having my daily intake of food though, I just felt flat-out exhausted. It would have been the time to get up and put in the hours to work on either my paid projects or the side projects, such as the podcast. However, I was confronted once again with this question popping up out of nowhere: What would a person who loves themself do? Well, for a start they would probably not determine their worth on their productiveness, they would probably have the audacity to feel worthy and good enough no matter what the output of the day was. They would surely not doubt their abilities or skills or talents simply because they got tired after eating. Certainly, they would not push themselves and rather ease into a nap, that they very likely feel they deserved anyway.

So, I did.

Instead of loosing an hour to this nap, my concerns were not even confirmed. I woke rested and actually rather compelled to get to some or other task done, driven to invest the gained energy. This, obviously, is not the first time something similar has happened. I give myself the rest I need, recharge and am able to go forth energised, making my work better, making me feel better, making the world seem like a kinder place. Rather than continuing just because I was conditioned to be productive and having a break is a sign of weakness, that then reflects in my work, resulting in the possibility of being prone to making more mistakes, while draining me of the rest of energy, making it even harder to ever charge up fully again.

The last thing I’d like to share is actually something very personal - not that the rest is not, but this one is something I still find very hard to rewire. A disclaimer, none of the following means that I do not like to be alone, in fact, I love to be on my own, have to compromise with no one else but the voice in my head and manage myself to my heart’s content. Sometimes though, especially in a bubble like the one I have the privilege of forming while I am on this secluded island, it gets lonely. Especially when there are a few things I cannot wrap my head around, or when my responsibilities (both imaginative and very real work related ones) become unbearably challenging, and all I want is to break out, disappear completely from the surface of the Earth. Usually, I cope with all of this on my own. No one else will ever be involved in the drama that plays itself out in my head, unless you happen to live with me, which very seldomly happens as I am travelling full time. And even if I share the space, I am mostly a very introverted person, it takes a lot for me to trust and be open and actually share my load with someone. If I do, then I cherish and trust those people deeply. The bubble I talk about has been unbroken for a few months now and this week, as it started to drag on rather than just go on, I found myself confronted with a few hardships. And on that day, this story took place:

I had been dispatching a couple of baked goods to my beloved friends scattered on the island, and I still had one batch of muffins left for one person. And it had been wet and cold and drizzly and dark. And after feeding the dogs and it went quiet, I still had that batch staring at me scornfully, because it had not been brought to the person it had been intended for. Then the question emerged from the depths of my unconscious mind: What would a person who loves themself do?

And I intuitively knew, instinctively knew, that they would ditch all the self proclaimed to do lists and tasks that needed to be done when the heart was not in it, when the mind ached from too much work during the day anyway and the weather was wearing one down, and there was an option of visiting this lovely soul, bringing muffins and being able to sit in front of a fire and talk. Simply enjoying each others company.

And I did.

Not only was it the best and most spontaneous thing I had done in a long while, she helped me with two of my concerns and all the while I felt held and connected and loved. Truly, it was magical. And it all came about just because I have this self-love exercise in the back of my mind all day, everyday.

Numerous other, smaller things occurred as well. I won’t bore you with those because I do hope my point came across. No matter if the decisions are big or small, this question leads us onto a path of self-love, onto a journey assisting our healing, onto an enchanting spell of generating abundantly more love than without it. Quite frankly, the smaller ones might just be the most important ones as they are the most overlooked ones, the ones that happen on autopilot with no interjection whatsoever. The small things in life, after all, make up our minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and before long, it is them that create who we are, how we think, feel and act. What our reality is and our life becomes.

Wherever you are in this world, I open my heart wide up and send you my utmost love and all the light I have to give. I am honoured to be sharing this journey with you, I sincerely hope there is benefit that you resonate with and can take away with you into your lives. If you want to share, please do, as we have talked about on numerous occasions:

It is what we share that may give light and connection and recognition to another person's struggle, ease their suffering, further their own healing journey.

Love and light, my beloved souls and my fellow, healing onions


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