Last week we were in the car and for some weird reason we put the Showtunes Karaoke on. I was waiting for some amazing classics like “Oklahoma” or “Luck Be A Lady”, but no, we got songs from Grease, including “Hopelessly Devoted”.

I’m perhaps embarrassed to admit that I knew/know the lyrics by heart. I may not have been allowed to see Saturday Night Fever when it was released, because it was too Satanic, but for some reason, a few years later, my Moonie mom let me watch Grease. (I’m happy to say I finally watched Saturday Night Fever a few weeks ago. Better late than never!)

I knew the “Hopelessly Devoted” lyrics by heart, though I’m proud to say I hadn’t sung the song in decades. Now, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s been a week, and at least for an hour each day my brain is singing along with Olivia Newton John. Damn.

But I think there’s something in it for me. Or at least, if I twist my brain a bit, I can find something in it for me…

Yesterday I did a book interview and Q&A session for ICSA (the International Cultic Studies Association) – which is a tremendous resource for people healing from cults. The first question was “tell us more about self-love.”

Let me be clear, those of us born-and-or-raised in an extremist situation were very intentionally, very systemically, and very thoroughly taught NOT to love ourselves. This is probably true for people not born-and-or-raised in an extremist situation as well, but my brain was purposefully carved with self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-flagellation. And it’s a daily practice to change that.

Which was my answer to the question. It’s a daily practice, and I’ve built (and recommend) habits and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual “exercises” that first, teach me that it’s okay to love myself; second, give me ways to love myself, and third, allow me to feel myself love myself.

I think “Hopelessly Devoted” is perhaps my heart and soul singing to myself. Because I do think we “should” (I “should”) be hopelessly devoted to ourselves first…and again most.

Some of my personal practices – I know I’ve listed these before, but perhaps they’ll be helpful to list again:

  • I start each day with my hand on my heart and I say, out loud, “Good morning, spectacular. (Many of you know how I feel about that word.) I love you, Lisa.” I think I’ve been doing this for a while, but I also learned more about it in this article in Wise Brain Bulletin by Shauna Shapiro.
  • Next I remind myself, just before my feet hit the floor, that it’s going to be a magnificent, glorious, beautiful day.
  • I spend much of the day with my hand on my heart, ala Tara Brach. I’ve also learned to say, from her, “It’s okay sweetheart. This is hard. It’s okay.”
  • I spend the day watching for “reminders” of love from the universe. Yes, I know I’ve made them up – as in my yellow birds and my love for all things red right now – and still they reverberate love deep inside me. I see the trees against the sky or the flowers starting to emerge and know there is beauty all around.
  • I physically exercise – even though the weights I lift now feel wimpy light to me, mentally exercise – with meditation and other healing practices, and spiritually exercise – again, with mediation and other healing practices.
  • I do my best to shine light and love to strangers, friends, and family. I’m that weird New Yorker (even though I don’t live in New York) who smiles at strangers and says hello, who compliments others on their blue, green, and pink hair. I have a (growing) list of people I text love to every morning – it maybe helps them and it surely helps me.
  • I remember to ask myself, often, What do you want right now? What would feel best right now? Then I’ve learned to give that to myself and do that for myself.

I was taught not to love myself. I was taught it in so many ways. And I have taught myself the opposite.

And I’m hopelessly devoted to me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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