Monday, July 26, 2021

What Loki Teaches about Self-Love

Partway through the Disney Plus exclusive series Loki, a "nexus event" occurs. Loki falls in love with Sylvie, a variant of himself. Let’s set aside any discussion about “selfcest” or “Loki-cest” or "Sylki" shipping. Instead, let’s focus on the symbolism behind the relationship between these two characters, who are the same but different. I choose to look at this as falling in love with ourselves.

No, not the romantic kind of falling in love, cuz ew. But just truly loving ourselves. Self-love.

Even though Loki and Sylvie are not the same person, we can interpret the relationship as a form of self-love. Loki depicts this self love developing amid chaos and turmoil in the episode “Lamentis”, a slower episode that focuses more on character development than action (despite that crazycool one-take scene), and pushes the idea that a relationship with yourself is more important than anything else going on in the world. When the pair finally let down their guard to become vulnerable and fall in love in the episode “Nexus Event”, we see that it has universe-shattering consequences. The very nature of Loki falling in love with somebody with similar character traits causes the timeline to literally start wobbling, and things change faster than Pietro Maximoff.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to love ourselves. Sometimes it happens after an amount of strife in our lives. But the act of loving yourself can have earth-shattering consequences. There are two types of loving oneself: being conceited, prideful, and arrogant thinking you’re better than everyone; and there is naturally loving yourself and accepting who you are and being thankful for what God made.

Growing up, I hated myself. I hid this self-hatred with humor and a gregarious personality. When I went to therapy and realized just how much I hated myself, I decided in a heartbeat that things needed to change in my life. Although the decision was made in a heartbeat, the process took a lot longer, and will probably continue to evolve my entire life. Some things I did to start loving myself.

  • I accepted myself for who I am. No more trying to hide or pretend or be somebody I’m not. I just accepted myself.
  • I found comfort in the “in-between”. I often don’t feel completely at home in any one culture or with any single identity. That used to bother me. But somewhere along the way, I found that I could be comfortable with a foot in more than one world. My home isn’t in any single world, but on the bridge between those worlds. I’m okay with that.
  • I developed a much more real relationship with Heavenly Father. Now talk with Him, instead of just saying prayers in my head. Sometimes I get mad at Him. Sometimes I disobey Him like a petulant child. Sometimes I walk with Him and take His advice. Sometimes I choose to do things my own way. But I learn from the way He loves me, and I love myself that same way.
  • I say “no”. In order to mask my own self-hatred, I became a colossal people pleaser. Wanting to make others happy isn’t a bad thing, but doing so at the expense of your own needs is toxic and self-destructive. I would amputate parts of myself just to please others, or in an attempt to get them to like me. Not anymore. Now I say “no” when I need to.
  • I am kind to myself. I am working to be more careful in the language I use about myself, both verbally and in my head. I try to talk to myself like I would talk to a loved one. I don’t cut myself down, I don’t call myself names, and I don’t criticize myself.
  • I practice self-care and self-love. I literally take time to go on dates with myself. This might include a warm bath, time at the gym, taking time to do hobbies such as geocaching, or clearing an evening so I can spend time with myself. This might be the simplest and most concrete thing on this list, but I found that in practice it was the hardest thing to actually do.

Loki and Sylvie are variants of the same person and they are not the same individual, but I still think there’s a lot to be learned from watching this symbolic depiction of loving yourself. And if along your journey of self-love, all you end up doing is loving alligators, then at least progress has been made.

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