Letting go of control and being present in my physical body does not come easily to me. So it was a surprise when I got completely, totally addicted to salsa dancing during law school. A dozen years ago, I was with friends at a restaurant in Iowa City on a Saturday night. The small dance floor at the opposite end of the room started to fill up with people as the Latin music cast a spell.
A few days ago, I was feeling frustrated with my husband—angry, too.
(Don’t worry, I cleared this disclosure with him. Also? The challenging nature of romantic relationships is hardly a secret.)
Despite everything I’m about to say, I had to override my inner critic to write the title. Ridiculous, right? I hope saying it and sharing it will deepen the imprint. Maybe it will help you find your groove, too.
Growing up, I internalized a warped idea that self-esteem is crap because of course we all love ourselves and that actually we need to focus on loving other people. I can see now a tug-of-war spanning my lifetime: my deep yearning for praise and external validation battling with the guilt—embarrassment, even—for wanting it in the first place. Why? Because on some deep level, I equated unconditional self-love with narcissism.