Change Becomes You
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Change Becomes You

A Note to Overthinkers: Don’t Look for Self-Love in Your Head

Hint: you have to get, figuratively, in the water.

Picture by LSF Swim

This is a note to overthinkers who busy themselves too much with what’s wrong with them. And in particular to those who got disorientated and became obsessed with the map.

I know because I was one of them. And in some ways, I still am.

The last few years I spent a lot of time reading about self-love. I spent dozens of hours listening to audiobooks and podcasts about life hoping to get clues about self-love.

The overthinkers’ favourite method. We believe we can science the heck out of things.

It often felt like learning how to swim, not in the water, but by reading a self-teaching book in the living room.

In the meantime, life was happening. It found me spending time studying myself and wondering about my worth. I was missing the point — to live.

From books and podcasts, I got detailed descriptions of what things people-who-love-themselves do, and steps I need to take to qualify as a self-loving person. I got an account of self-love. Food for (further) overthinking. And another excuse to postpone life — the place where self-love gets a chance to be.

I got it when I got out of my head and into life. You see, all love appears and happens in the realm of being. Not when we are into our heads entangled with thoughts.

Self-love is sustainable when we are dedicated to our life’s mission. A purpose. Perhaps something bigger than ourselves, but certainly something other than ourselves. It needs to be pointed away from us.

Also, self-love is not a really thing by itself. It’s just love. And love is an on-off switch. We either love the world, including ourselves, or we go to bed feeling that something’s missing. Again, to love ourselves, we need to point our love away from us.

Being in the realm of being

Think about how we “learn” to swim. It’s the very being in the water, and trying, and playing with differences in bodily sensations that gives us insights about floating. But, we don’t really “learn” it. Floating is not the result of accumulated knowledge. In one instance, something clicks and we get it.

It also happened on the day we walked. And the day we broke our silence for the first time and spoke, and all other times we got how is to do something. And it happens every time we get melody and sing beautifully. To give ourselves a chance to get melody, we sing. We don’t talk or think too much about it.

If you’re reading this article, odds are that you have gotten love in some way that doesn’t work for you.

Knowledge from self-love books registers in the conscious mind. So does the outcome of all our overthinking and analysing. But to be loving persons, we need our unconscious mind to get it.

Probably that’s why love cannot be as effectively taught as it can be shown, and played with. Same goes with things like leadership and care.

A life mission

You can volunteer in the neighbourhood’s orphanage — that would be the equivalent of getting into the water. I assure you, it will give more insights into (self)love than overthinking or repeating positive affirmations.

But what I’m referring to as life mission is orders of magnitude bigger than volunteering two hours per week in an orphanage. I’m talking about building and running the orphanage ourselves.

We commit to life missions when we choose causes close to our hearts, that happened to be there. They usually stem from our struggles and passions or they are inspired by persons we deeply care for.

Heidegger in his Being and Time writes “it is one thing to tell stories about how beings are, another to lay hold of beings in their being.” Love is part of our being. But we, fellow overthinker, are good with stories.




Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

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Yorgos Altintzis

Yorgos Altintzis

I love airports. Gili lives in me.

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