I don’t know if you can relate, but I’ve struggled with excess on and off my whole life. Excess alcohol, excess cigarettes (thank God that habit got snuffed out 40 years ago or I’d be dead by now), excess sugar, excess pizza … just plain excess in the consumption department.

A dear friend and astrologer once told me I gravitate to extravagance and excess because I have Jupiter in Aries in the 6th House. But my gut tells me it’s more about lack of love and touch and affection growing up. The over eating, over drinking, over working, over everything is a way to fill the void in my heart and avoid feeling that void and the sadness it contains.

Predictably, I’ve alternated being on and off the wagon with food and booze my whole life. Too much followed by too little. More than I need followed by months of dieting and “cleanses.”

Ping Pong. Ping Pong. Back and forth with no resolution.

Of course, the most commonly touted answer to this dynamic is, “Fill that void with self love! Come on! You can do it! Get with the program! Love yourself!”

Self-love … sigh.

It’s only now, after all these years, that I’ve finally figured out why “self-love” is so problematic. Why I kept failing at it over and over again, falling into self-abuse no matter how many diets I went on, how many candles I lit and how many scented bubble baths I drew.

How is a damaged “self” — a self who never got the love s/he needed — supposed to conjure up love? Through willpower? And who the hell is the “self” I’m supposed to love anyway? How many damn selves are there?

I suspect these kinds of questions are why the normal “love yourself” program is so prescriptive. Why there’s a strict formula to it. We don’t really know what love is. We don’t feel it. Or if we do, it’s an on and off thing at best. So, we do stuff that’s supposed to be loving. We follow the Healthy Self-Love Rules.

We try to avoid stress. (Good luck!) We go for long walks in the woods. Eat the right foods. Exercise. Do yoga. Go on vacation. Get a facial. Meditate. Buy the motorcycle we’ve always wanted. We learn not to eat or drink too much. We’re moderate. Temperate. You know … we’re taking care of our self.

That’s love. Right?

Having just come through yet one more (mercifully short) cycle of excess following yet one more cycle of enforced (yet loving) moderation … it finally hit me. It’s not about this schizophrenic act of trying to love myself at all. It’s about being what/who I really am, which is love itself.

It’s about being love.

Being it. Feeling it. Embodying it. Conjuring the feeling over and over and over again until I’m saturated in it. Until my body hums. Until that inner flame of love lifts the corners of my mouth in a perpetual Mona Lisa smile for no reason whatsoever.

As love itself, evoking and embodying the feeling, I naturally gravitate to what is life-giving, because life and love are the same thing. I innately eat the right amounts of the right foods, neither over nor under eating. (Like a healthy animal instinctively does!) I’m not following a prescriptive formula. I’m not following the Self-Love Rules. I’m following the inner promptings of the life force itself which only knows health, wellbeing and evolution.

Does this mean I’ll never drink another martini again? I don’t know! I just woke up to this whole idea last week. But I suspect that once the love force/life force builds up in my body sufficiently and stays steady, that I won’t want such things so much anymore. Maybe not at all.

I don’t know!  But stay tuned! I’ll let you know!

In the meantime, enjoy Happy Holidays!

Much love and aloha ~