Minka: Hi everybody!Welcome back to Minka Guides. This month, we’ll be looking at self-love and specifically around queer self-love. I have Amanda Kibbler here today as my guest.
How are you doing today, Amanda?
Amanda (they/she): I’m doing great. So excited to be here.
Minka: So, Amanda Kibbler is a thirty-year-old queer, non-binary, polyamorous person who lives in New York. They work as a self-love and aligned habits coach with Queer Compassionate Alignment. They also recently launched a podcast called Queer Rising.
So, it sounds like you’ve been very busy Amanda.
Amanda: I’m trying to be busy.
Minka: I’m so glad by having this conversation because self-love is something that suddenly has come right up on my radar in a really big way in the last couple of months. In a sense that I’d never really expected it before. So, I’m just so excited to be having this conversation with you.
I thought probably best to start with looking at what the idea of self-love is because I think for people who are my age or older (forty plus) the idea of self-love has always been seen as this negative thing. “Oh, they’re so in love with themselves.” Someone who’s really confident or like an external thing and a judgment on that.
Whereas actually self-love and a self-love practice is clearly very different to that. So what does that mean for you?
Amanda: For sure. I mean, I definitely grew up with a lot of that same messaging around confidence being this negative thing. But I think as I got older, that’s when I started realising I’d internalized that so much that it was zapped.
I think the ultimate difference though between what we see and what we tend to vilify on some level and what real self-love is, is where is it coming from and what is our goal?
So, we often try to project confidence into the world but the ultimate goal for that is often… it’s our relationship with the world. What are we getting back? We’re trying to get people to think we’re amazing, to think we’re capable. To look up to us, to admire us.
But if it’s not also internal, it’s not really self-love. We’re starved for attention and in fact, if you’re lacking the self-love piece, which I definitely was a really long time, it can still really appear like you’re super confident.
And yet, on the inside when you’re all by yourself, things are not going great.
Minka: Yes, Absolutely
So, how did you start on your self-love journey?
Amanda: Honestly, it was a giant culmination of a lot of things in my life but I think that’s how things work, right? All the messaging eventually converge and you’re like “I’m not in a good place.” So, it was a lot of the being an AFAB (assigned female at birth) human diet culture messaging.
I was on this search for wellness, which ultimately I came to realise was a search for a thin body that I was never gonna have and that got me to a place where I like hated myself and my body so much.
It was getting a better relationship with my queerness and realising that even though I had gone through my at least initial (not my non-binary) piece of the journey, but my initial initiation into the queer community and figuring out my sexuality.
I’d done that on what you would assume to be a “regular” timeline, like when I was young in college at least. Then it’s still like when I went back out into the world, even though I thought I was out, really truly, I found that I kind of unintentionally became re-closeted again
I was on this search for wellness, which ultimately I came to realise was a search for a thin body that I was never gonna have. That got me to a place where I hated myself and my body so much.
Minka: How interesting.
Amanda: Because I went into teaching and unfortunately teaching there’s still a stigma right around queer folks and children. It didn’t feel like I was allowed to be open about it in my school itself. On its own, was not a super accepting community. Then coupled with my relationship at the time, which was very straight passing.
So, there was a lot of “I’m not technically in the closet but sort of I am.” I felt very unseen and that in itself was a lot of misalignment. A lot of, “Am I queer enough?” and a lot of “Am I allowed to be queer?” All these questions that seemingly don’t go together but absolutely do for all of us.
Then the last piece was my relationships themselves and as I started dipping my toe into this idea, I happened upon polyamory on social media. Even without exploring it, once you start into that world just watching it, you start hearing a lot of the messaging and I’m like, “My relationships are very unhealthy. I am literally begging these people for attention.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that our relationships were bad or those were bad people or bad relationships 100%. But a lot of that did have to do with my self-love. It wasn’t coming from inside of me.
All these different pieces culminated and none of it was coming from inside of me. I was just performing in my relationships. Going out into the world in a way that I would hope would please people. So, like we said before, I appeared relatively confident.
I don’t think anyone understood what I was like deep on the inside because outwardly I appeared like this happy bubbly human. But I was constantly looking for that validation from other people and that’s the difference. One day, I was like, “This is not going to work.”
Minka: Yes, absolutely. It’s so interesting to link that back into polyamory because that has been a big part of the reason why I’ve ended up going on this self-love journey as well. That’s because I practice solo polyamory, where I focus a lot on myself as my own partner.
To begin with, I was like, “Yeah, that’s fine like I can make space for myself. You know, blah blah blah” and then it’s only been in the last couple of months I’ve been like, “Have I actually been treating myself like I would like a loving partner? Or do I take myself for granted all the time?” and push myself all the time. If I am my own partner, I’m being a terrible partner to myself!
So, it is really interesting that this has come up through there in a similar way for you as well.
Amanda: So much! One hundred per cent. That whole thing. I didn’t have time for myself and I hated being alone right? Like we think that’s normal. But oh my god, you should not feel this dreading sense of loneliness every time you’re alone.
I say “should not” not as like a “how dare you if you do” but like we got to do some healing journey because it’s not fun. That’s not right. I should like being alone with myself.
Minka: Exactly and also linking back to what you were saying about feeling so insecure with partners as well. That’s one of the things that I used to think that, “I’m fine when I’m on my own,” like when I’m not in a relationship, I’m all good. I’m totally confident. I’m fine. I’m dealing with the world okay.
But as soon as I get in a relationship, I start projecting all of this stuff onto the other person. It’s all the insecurity that’s actually there all the time but because I wasn’t engaging in anything emotionally intense, I didn’t have to address that.
So, I was like so really struggling with that as well. Yeah, I completely understand how all of these streams of queerness and gender and then polyamory all weave into getting us to where we are.
A lot of the time when people talk about self-love we talk about it as a practice, something that you do.
So, what does a self-love practice look like, specifically for you or just generally for most people?
Amanda: Yeah, so the way that I define a self-love practice is really hitting in on three separate areas:
1) Working on knowing yourself. So, having some kind of practice in place for intentional self-exploration. Either intentional researching or a regular journal practice or some kind of like basic mindfulness/meditation.
None of these things has to be super formal but giving yourself permission to explore, because oh my god there are so many levels of my identity that I didn’t even know could be on the radar before. Then when I’ve given myself permission to explore the little things that come up, like whatever tweaks my interests, I’m like, “Whoa, I’m turning into a whole new person.”
2) Rebuilding that sense of self-trust. So, lack of self-love comes from all these messages but it also comes from the way that we internalize the messages and if we can even trust ourselves to show up for ourselves. If we’re leaning on all these other people to show up for us but often we’re not actually doing it for ourselves. We don’t even trust ourselves to do it right?
How many times do we set plans to be able to do something, some kind of self-care (reading a book or taking a nice bath) and then somebody needs something. That time that was for me goes out the window like, “Oh well, that was just free time. So yeah, of course, I’m available.” Or simply like not checking in with our emotions or shoving our emotions down down down into the pit of everything.
Minka: That is something I massively struggled with.
Amanda: Like oh my god! So much. So, rebuilding that sense of self-trust, which for me just means actively taking time to show up for yourself, to check in with yourself, like having a self-check-in practice. Going, “How am I feeling right now physically? Emotionally? What do I need? Is there anything I can do to make myself 10% more comfortable?” Also, making space for just you and having that be non-negotiable.
My very first habit out of this was so broad, as in I need to do one thing for me every single day. It could be big or small. It could be taking a walk. It could be closing the computer and stopping work and watching a movie. It could just be like having a nice snack that I enjoy. But I was like, “I just have to do one thing for me every day,” because if we don’t trust ourselves to at least show up in that smallest way of one tiny thing for me every day like. Of course, we’re relying on other people but we have to get in the habit of showing up for us.
3) Dialogue. The way we talk to ourselves. We do it out loud. We do it inside our heads. And oftentimes it is not nice. So that was for me like we got to start shifting. I started realising especially like mirrors, I think are huge for a lot of us. They were definitely big for me.
I felt like every time I looked in the mirror, I would be picking myself apart. Whether it was my physical body, which many times it was, or it was the things I had done that day. Feeling I wasn’t good enough. I would say them out loud. I would say them in my head. I was not talking to myself nicely. So, that for me was also where I made the shift for the self-talk because that can become an intentional practice.
I said, “Every time I look in the mirror, I have to say something nice to myself.” Again, that could be out loud or it can be in your head. Whatever works for you if it makes you feel comfortable. But like if you’re intentionally stopping just say something nice, it means that you’re drowning out the opportunity to say something mean.
Minka: Yeah, exactly.
Amanda: At this point like I look in the mirror and I’m like, “You look so good! I’m like having such a fun time.” Now it’s like automatic. I’m impressed with myself and the moment that you realise you’re doing that automatically… I remember the one time I was like, “Whoa. Oh, you’re a boss! You’re so cute,” and then it was like when did I become the person that does that?
Minka: That’s so huge as well. But I’m also really struck by how much of this is such a conscious thing to do. Someone could be listening to this and being like, “I take myself for a walk every day I make myself a nice snack. How is this different to how I’m living my everyday life?” But I think it’s the really conscious kind of caring self-care element in there. Of being like, “I am doing this for me.” Being so aware that you’re doing this all the time to give to yourself.
Amanda: Yes, there is a huge difference between what we do intentionally and mindfully and what we do on autopilot because it feels like it’s just part of our day, or we have to.
There is a huge difference between what we do intentionally and mindfully, and what we do on autopilot because it feels like it’s just part of our day or we have to.
Amanda: Even like I listed, for example, closing your computer and watching a movie right? If I’m mindlessly laying in bed and watching Netflix all day but it’s not about taking care of me. It’s just like, “I don’t want to do anything” or “I’m just exhausted and I need to recharge,” and it’s not intentional. I’m probably not going to get thejolt of like doing something so nice for me.
But if I’m intentionally like, “Ok, it is 6pm or whatever and I need to stop. I can have some time to watch a movie tonight. Let me make my coffee or tea or whatever and like just sit and relax.” Like that feeling is very different.
Minka: Yeah, absolutely. Which, by the way, that’s exactly what I did at lunchtime today. I was like, “I am still recovering from the festival I was at on the weekend and I’m just gonna at lunchtime let myself lie down and watch something.” So that I knew that I was still taking care of myself even though I was like “I still have to be working. You know, that’s what I have to do today. I knew that that was something I was going to have to do, but I can have some soft comfortable nourishing time to just like let myself rest a little,” which I think that’s a really big thing for me. Letting myself rest is a big self-love thing that I’m having to learn.
Why do you think self-love is something that we struggle sometimes to maintain all the time? Why is it a practice that sometimes we stumble with? Are good at sometimes and not so good at other times?
Amanda: I think there are multiple reasons. I think one is just the world and the messaging, right? We are told, as we’ve already said, that this idea of confidence and self-love is bad and sometimes that’s that overconfidence piece. But also it’s just in the taking time for ourselves. People are like, “Yeah but how can you not be available? I feel like you’re not doing anything, right?” It’s expected that if other people want you around and if I’ve texted you or sent you a message or an email like you’re gonna respond immediately.
So, being able to set aside that kind of messaging and being like, “No, that’s not normal for me to be available for everyone else 24/7,” and giving myself permission. But then like there’s also the habit pieces, right?
There are three basic components to building a habit:
1) having a cue
2) getting the routines set in place
3) making it feel rewarding afterwards.
So, if our cue’s not in place then we’re literally just forgetting to do it, right? We don’t have anything to be like, “Now is the time that I’m supposed to do the habit,” then I literally just forget it. So, there’s that like ‘out of sight, out of mind’, especially in the hustle-bustle world we live in.
If there’s a problem going on in the routine, it could be that we’ve literally made the habit way too big. If I want to start some kind of mindfulness practice and I set my habit to, “I’m going to sit in stillness and silence for 30 minutes every day,” like no. That’s not going to end up happening from 0 to 30 minutes daily. One, I don’t always have the time. Two, I’m probably not used to sitting that long and being in silence like it’s just no good. So, starting too big doesn’t work.
Minka: Yeah, absolutely. You probably would you’d start to do it for the first day thirty minutes, then the next day probably, and then like the next day you’d be like, “Oh, I don’t have time for that today.” Instead of starting small and building a five or ten-minute practice. Getting that in there.
I know that this is where your two streams of coaching come together which is the self-love and habits. It’s clear that those things do fit really well together.
Amanda: So, this is literally all my stuff coming together. Because I came into this from that wellness place, right? I came into that from like, “I want to build up wellness and wellness habits,” and then somewhere along the line, that’s when I realised that self-love piece was super missing. I realised that I don’t want to focus just on nutrition and exercise.
Minka: Yeah, that’s what you originally trained as. A holistic…
Amanda: Nutritionist. Yeah, but then like once I got through all of that I realised that on its own can’t be what I do. I can help people with that as part of their goals but that on its own got me into a terrible place. So, I’m not going to be that person for anyone.
That’s when I started looking more broadly at the concept of habit building and I first applied it to wellness. Trying to get movement and nutrition habits to stick and then I realised, without those other pieces in there of truly more holistic alignment of mental health level good stuff, it’s not enough.
That’s when I started applying it to everything. That’s what started my first baby self-love practices. Because I was like, “Okay, mental health is where I need to start. I’m not in a good place right now and the more I work on nutrition or movement, it’s all coming from a terrible place of trying to fix myself. That’s not where I wanted to come from. It’s doing damage. We need to fix that. We need to shift it.”
So, I changed my direction and I applied my habit straight into my mental health stuff and holy like, huge difference! Night and day. Yeah, it was like click. That’s the piece that’s been missing for years.
Minka: Finally, it all makes sense! One of the nicest things about having this conversation today is that we’re in Pride Month. So, happy Pride!
It’s really interesting because how I discovered you, I was like, “Cool, I’m really getting into this kind of stuff about self-love. Right, I’m just gonna go on Instagram, I’m gonna type in #selflove and have a look.” There, I was just like bombarded with people’s selfies of them just being like, “yeah self-love!” and I was like “Oh, this is not what I’m looking for at all.”
So, then I was like, “Wait a minute. I’m approaching this the wrong way,” and I typed #queerselflove and then up you popped. I was like, “Look at all these resources! Look at all this information! I’m loving it so much.
I think it’s really important to talk about why self-love is so important to the queer and trans+ community. Why is it such an essential tool for us in navigating everyday life?
Amanda: Honestly, I think it’s because we have to acknowledge the fact that we are at this like interesting intersection, right? Of “regular” cishet society messaging that gives you all these reasons not to like yourself. Via diet culture, hustle culture. Via patriarchal gender norms. All of that. And then our own special brand of messaging they love to give us, that we’re not good enough in some way. That we are not supposed to exist. That we’re something to be fixed. That it’s sinful or that we’re supposed to shove our most authentic selves down so that we can conform.
When you get all of that, plus obviously, so many members of our community have their own special brands of messaging. People of colour and neurodivergence and disabilities and all of that. All that intersectionality. That’s a lot of terrible harmful messaging and it really impacts our self-love. So, we have a lot to combat.
“Regular” cishet society messaging gives you all these reasons not to like yourself. Via diet culture, hustle culture. Via patriarchal gender norms. All of that.
And then our own special brand of messaging they love to give us. That we’re not good enough in some way. That we are not supposed to exist. That we’re something to be fixed. That it’s sinful or that we’re supposed to shove our most authentic selves down so that we can conform.
Minka: Absolutely and it’s all of that non-normative messaging. Like saying that because of this factor in your life and because of this factor in your life and maybe this one and this one as well, you are not the norm. You don’t fit into the norm and therefore you should expect not to have like loving relationships. You should expect not to have the career opportunities. You should expect to live in fear all the time. All of these things are put onto us. It’s so intense, that to actually unpack that messaging and to be able to have a good relationship with yourself takes so much extra work.
Amanda: Extra work for sure. But it also means… this is the part I always love to come back to is, yes, it’s all this extra to unpack and against us. But also, it means that when we even start coming into ourselves on any level, be that from gender, from sexuality, from relationship identities, from romantic identities, whatever. Oh my goodness, it cracks you. Society doesn’t make sense and it suddenly is like, “Well, if I’m gonna be different, I might as well get to explore anything about me that’s different in any way I want.” I love it. It’s like a superpower for self-love.
Minka: It really is and I think it’s amazing that moment or time period when everything starts to really click across in your life and you’re suddenly like, “Oh, hi everyone!”
I saw this meme the other day that was “Once you’ve ruined your reputation you can live pretty freely” and I was like, “Oh, that fits into everything.” I was like, “Yeah, so I have gone and just kind of blown everything up in my life and ruined my reputation and hey, I’m way happier now. I’m way more comfortable and I have much deeper connections with the people I love and a much deeper connection with myself and that’s kind of amazing.” Even though it’s harder and it’s a lot more extra work it then starts feeling like a privilege. You’re just like, “Oh god, I get to do this and I get to experience and I get to understand the world through all of these different ways. Wow, that’s incredible.”
Amanda: Hundred per cent. That’s why I’m always like, “No, but queerness is like a freaking superpower. It’s amazing. It’s magic.” It’s scary at the beginning of the journey when we’re like trying to get through it all because it’s a lot of layers but once you actually start and once you get through it on one level, I might as well question everything now and I love it.
Minka: Exactly. It’s like, “Ok, throw out the game plan that we’ve been told explicitly and implicitly since birth what we’re supposed to be doing and let’s actually look at what it is that I genuinely want.”
One of the lovely things was that when I started going through this self-love journey very consciously recently, a lot of my queer and non-binary friends started to be like, “Oh yeah, so you should try this or you should do that.”
Shout out to Lxo if you’re watching. Lxo posted, all the way to Spain so that I could have it here with me while I was going through this (I’ve got it over there, that’s why I’m looking over there), a tarot deck that’s all about self-love. So they sent me this gift and I was like, “Wow, what other tools are out there?”
What you would recommend for every day reminding yourself that this is something we are consciously doing as a practice for ourselves?
Amanda: I love it. For sure. Now my initial brain says to go books. But then I have to say the more I thought about this I was like I’ve read a lot of books about self-love, and unfortunately, I feel like a lot of them fell short because they’re like many of them are not going to be so queer centred and I feel like our queerness needs that factor in there. Otherwise, it’s just compounding it that much more
But, also there tends to be this strange vibe in many of the books of like, “Just love yourself” and I’m like, that’s not how that works! I don’t just flick a switch. When we’re deep in it, we’re like, “What do you mean just love yourself?” I can’t. Like, if I could I’d already be doing it right? This simple sweet the bridge. Where’s that? Where’s the bridge. So there’s that but I love that your friend has this tarot deck I love that.
Minka: Exactly! So… what’s that step? That’s what I’ve come here for!
Amanda: I actually do free affirmation cards every month to my newsletter because I have found affirmations to be so freaking essential. But what I recommend, it’s very personal. Surround yourself with the messages, surround yourself with people that look like you, that feel like you, that share your experiences.
So, for me, that was things like finding body positivity stuff on social media. Finding queer media and social media like Tiktok, Instagram, but also books and movies with queer characters. I am almost disappointed when I come across non-queer media at this stage because I’m like, “Oh I’ve done this far too many times.”
Minka: Like, I’ve consumed all of that before and I don’t have a taste for it anymore surprisingly. But you’re right. Surrounding yourself with that kind of content is a really good idea.
Amanda: I can’t know myself if I don’t know there are options, right? I can’t love myself if I don’t see those examples. I am going to continue to see myself as an other, as an outsider and as a rarity.
It’s hard to be like, “this is this amazing magic and I should be so like proud of myself.” But when you start seeing other people light up because of their queer identities and their sexuality and their gender exploration, it’s like, “Oh my god! I am normal and it’s awesome!”
I can’t know myself if I don’t know there are options, right? I can’t love myself if I don’t see those examples. I am going to continue to see myself as an other, as an outsider and as a rarity.
Minka: Yes, exactly. It’s like, “Oh there is space for me! I am completely me. Being myself is completely okay and it fits in the world absolutely fine as long as I’m surrounding myself with the right people.”
Amanda: Yeah, and then other than your identities, I don’t know how this happened… Maybe Tiktok’s trying to tell me something but neuro-divergent Tiktok is like coming at me. Maybe a next self-discovery? I’m not sure.
There is a whole branch of social media around the healing journey and the growth journeys that are very positive and rooted in self-compassion. Actively seek out those and make that your feed. Ditch all the things in your feed that are making you not feel good about yourself because self-compassion has to be essential.
Minka: Yeah, absolutely.
Speaking about your newsletter, which I love. How do people find you and find out about your coaching service and find you on Instagram and all of that?
and I just started a podcast that I’m so excited about it, called Queer Rising. Like obsessed. This is my brand new venture but I’m so excited about it.
Minka: Fantastic. I love it and what a perfect month to launch it. That’s so amazing.
Amanda: Right? We have to. I was like we are pulling through. We are being the amazing phoenixes we are.
Minka: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation today. I really love and appreciate it.
Everybody should go and check out Queer Compassionate Alignment. If you’re watching this on my blog or Youtube, you’ll be able to find links to everything. Go and sign up for the newsletter. Go and listen to the podcast and create this self-love practice for yourself. Particularly if you’re queer.
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