selfhood isn’t selfish




Sometimes the self-loving thing is to do what you fear. It is to make your own soul and pursue your own growth.

Growth is hard.

Growth is anxiety, mess, mistakes, discomfort and an edge. It is pain you must work through instead of shutting down or medicating away.

Self-love is about selfhood: identifying your gifts and cultivating your talents and learning to put them in service to the world, in response to a call of the time, in a way that lights you up instead of grinding you into despair. It’s the courage to show yourself to others, to be vulnerable, to create the authentic relationships so vital to well-being. It’s treating yourself with kindness and compassion while holding to a higher standard: getting to the appointment on time because you respect your time, going on a hike instead of to the movies because you respect your health, and your need to be in nature.

We give ourselves away in all the wrong ways.

We don’t develop a self to sacrifice.

Self-love is to serve yourself through serving others – and to serve others through serving yourself – in a way that sustains you. It is to be compassionate, to make sacrifices for who and what you believe in enough to make sacred. It’s learning to be in the world and not just one room, with candles lit and Bach on the stereo. It’s mastering the art of healthy boundaries. It’s knowing when to throw open your doors, to let in the world, and the people you desire in yours.

Self-love is about love of your self, and that includes all of your self, all of the time, everywhere you go, because there is never a moment when you are not in your self, even when pretending to be someone else.

Mar 15, 2015

11 comments · Add Yours

I love it , Justine. I just love it. For a long time, I’ve felt that yours is one of the great minds of our times, and you confirm it with every blog post, and every discussion. Its an honor to share dialog with you.

You reminded me of the importance of letting people back in, with discernment of course- after experiencing the black hole of the long devaluation followed by quick discard by a cherished loved one. And in spite of the chronic messages that devalue of our deeper merits pushed on us by culture, advertising, our media.

You really do have to let people back in, don’t you? Because we were never the problem, anyway. We were always lovable. The narcissists, the shallow people and the unaware were the ones failing to grow and develop awareness. Their harsh behavior reflects only their disordered personalities and immaturity.

Its a long path back from devaluation and discard from a person you let right in ; who you loved with all your gifts. I take comfort in the fact that the world is full of beautiful people, and its a question of discernment above all else. Love the people who can love. And let them love you right back. The others are for doing impression management. Gucci will do.


So, I’m an artist – and I’m looking at all my stuff online and was really frustrated that I have crappy grainy cell-phone photography for my self/work. All my profile pictures are selfies where I am an unsmiling half-dead ghoul in bad lighting.

So I contacted an excellent photographer friend of mine and set up a mini-session so I could finally have some good photography of myself for my online presence.

I’ve almost cancelled that appointment 5 times. I’m sure that number will reach double digits before I make it to the session. (If I do.) I tell myself how foolish it is, how conceited it is. The internal narrative goes something like this:
“Shouldn’t you be selling your art work and not yourself?”
“Are you just using your looks to trick people into liking your art?”
“Your a female, making stuff, online and you’re going to put pictures of yourself out there? What ARE you thinking?”
And the worst one : “You’re not going to really amount to anything of an artist anyway, so why even do this?”

Goddammit patriarchy conditioned brain, I’m just trying to look professional!

But it is scary – to put yourself out there, to present yourself with the knowledge that you do matter. That you in fact are worth good photography, good relationships, good jobs, good food.

Its way easier to hide behind the ghoulish grainy selfie. To stay in a suit of armor, even though you outgrew it years ago and it chafes. The grainy selfies and the armor is fear based. Love is the opposite of that, and so much scarier. Thank you for the post, Justine.


@Melissa I want to strongly encourage you to go to your photo-shoot and not to cancel it anymore. I don’t know you, but I know the feeling you describe, and let me tell you, after you come out of that shoot, you would feel so amazing; all that self-doubt would be put to rest. You feel like selling yourself? Well, selling yourself is not a bad thing after all; we all sell ourselves to something or for something one way or another; to children, to our jobs, to our partners, to money, to pleasure… Selling yourself to art and using all your gifts including your face to promote your art and pursue your goal of making it in the art world is one of the more meaningful and honorable trades to make.



I haven’t taken the plunge either Melissa and can relate to how you feel about wanting to challenge a fear. BTW you look gorgeous in your Avatar and I agree that perhaps your image could add something to your marketing. Social media marketing and youtube can be pretty powerful marketing tools and customers expect to see a human face in those particular venues.

And just to play devil’s advocate, on the other hand I believe another question to ask yourself if you really want to market your work via images of yourself? Its a double edge sword..on the one hand it can work, so long as you look the part. On the other hand you get highly successful artists like Banksy who cultivate a coquettish mystique by purposefully remaining anonymous. So in the end, how you market your work is a very personal decision. But I feel it should be a business decision above all else.

How was that for a fence sitting effort, lol?


@Rose – Thank you, I’m trying to move that fear into excitement, some days it works, some days it doesn’t.

@Belinda – Thank you for the kind words, really is appreciated. My main reason for hesitation is the double edged sword you mention . My art work definitely is what needs to be the stand out – not my mug. I’m going to keep most of the images to me working at the easel/desk, rather than beauty shots of me looking cool. (I do want at least one of those for my about page though, haha ;) )


Along the lines of discovering the Soul’s unique gift/contribution-in-waiting, you all might enjoy

Plotkin offers a road map (and actual guided mutli day wilderness vision quests) as a mean to undertake the internal descent needed to encounter the soul. Interesting eco psychology/ post jungian pov on the benefits of crucibles, self-discoveries, and e return to the world with your unique gift


@Melissa Do the shoot! Your image, and how you construct it and the meaning you invest in it (to convey to others), is part of your art, it is an extension of your art. It’s another way to communicate what you believe. Experiment with it. Have fun with it. When you doubt, check in with how your body feels about doing something, or not doing something, and trust that. Don’t trust the voice in your head. That way lies madness.


Love this. It’s a tricky subject to talk about in western vernacular: honouring your gifts, opportunities and humanity – without merely pursuing self gratification. I went through a phase where I lost ambition, and I can report that it was truly a loss of my humanity! We aren’t here to be robots.

As for getting the balance right, I’ve been thinking about the lessons of Buddhism lately. They’re definitely great as part of the selfhood conversation (though I confess to being unable to employ asceticism principles – unless the term “life is suffering” can be applied to wearing the occasional pair of Louboutins :)


@Melissa Go for the shoot! And don’t pigeonhole yourself just to easel/desk ones. Have fund, go crazy, do a variety of shots and then choose afterwards which one you use. :)
@Justine, great to see your writing again, always enjoyed them


Justine, your’e good


Justine, Do you know Mathew Bellamy, Muse? `New born’ .Its one of my favourite songs. And your blog post is the perfectliterary compliment.


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