Radical Self-Love Reconfigures the World

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Radical Self-Love Reconfigures the World

Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of The Body Is Not An Apology, on the revolutionary potential of loving oneself in a society built on domination and extraction.

Radical self-love is not something you have to achieve. I understand the word radical to mean, quite literally, something that is inherent; something that is already in us and that speaks to the origin of who we are. In order to radically love ourselves, we have to understand what is blocking the natural flow of what we came onto this planet with. The world we have created tells us we are insufficient, failing, and unworthy. That our bodies and identities aren’t ok. In order to counter that kind of extremity, I believe we need to have an extreme kind of relationship to love in our own beings.


In my book, The Body Is Not An Apology, I encourage us to think about the body that we, as a society, say is the most valuable. What are the attributes of that body? What race is that body? What size is that body? What gender is that body? What age is that body? Those markers make up what I call the default body. That’s the body that we legislate for. That’s the body that we build systems for. That’s the body that receives the most. Bodies further down the ladder receive less. They are legislated against. All of that is because we are invested in this ladder.


One way of practicing radical self-love is to become intentionally and intimately aware of what we are taking in that is counter to the message of loving oneself. For example: how can we learn to identify the distinction between the outside voice and the inside voice? I find that the one speaking to me as if I am insufficient is not my own authentic voice, it is a voice of indoctrination. I call this the thinking, doing, being process. The first step requires us to actually raise consciousness to that which has been unconscious; that voice of indoctrination. We need to recognize it without shame: I had that thought. I don’t like it. I’m not committed to keeping it. And that’s all right. The second step is to say, What is the opposite action of the thought I just had? If this is what I normally do, what does a different reaction look like? That way, we are rewiring our brain to go from a mindset of scarcity to one of affirmation. It’s an exponential process.


The policies, the legislations, and the systems within which we exist are a manifestation of our own belief in our not enoughness. When we believe that we’re not enough, we have to figure out some way to gain our worthiness.


What we do when we are not in the right relationship with ourselves is we externalize our enoughness. We decide that we are worthy if insert conditions. For example: we are worthy if we amass enough money. We are worthy if we hold power and domination over others. We are worthy if we have a better body, however we choose to define it. We create a hierarchy of identities that forces us to scale up the ladder in order to feel enough.


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