“A... I’m adorable, B... I’m so beautiful, C... I’m a cutie full of charms.”
Perhaps, one of the greatest rites of passage into adulthood is learning to love ourselves fully.
As children, we absorb most of our sense of self-worth from our parents, peers, siblings, teachers and environment. When we “grow up,” we are expected to be confident, fully functioning adults who can help our children build their own healthy self-esteem.
The problem, of course, is that most of us did not grow up surrounded and supported by perfect people. Our parents, peers, siblings and teachers all had baggage of their own, leftover from their childhoods.
As Louise Hay puts it in her seminal work, You Can Heal Your Life, we are all “victims of victims.”
And so, as adults we must take responsibility for our own growth and healing. We must find a way to love ourselves fully, thereby building the skills necessary to love others fully.
With hard work and practice, we just might send our children into adulthood with a little less baggage – or, at least lighter baggage – than we’ve carried on our own life’s journey.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to check in with yourself. How are you doing on the self-worth meter? Give yourself a little test:
- First, think about what “people” used to tell you about yourself. Dredge up some old criticisms from your parents, siblings, teachers and peers. What did they say to you or about you that really hurt? Does it still hurt??
- Next, stand in front of a mirror. Look yourself in the eye and say with intensity, “I love you. I truly and completely love you. You are perfect, just the way you are.” How do you feel? Do you believe yourself??
If either of these exercises caused you real discomfort, I would invite you to do some deeper work. You Can Heal Your Life is a beautiful and easy way to get started. Get your hands on a copy and gift yourself with some healing today.
“I am my sunshine, my only sunshine. I make me happy, when skies are gray.”
In the meantime, here are some fun ways to spread a little love to yourself right now. These are not meant to be one-time things. I highly recommend developing a habit of self-love: Give yourself a Valentine at least once, each and every day. More is preferable.
- Send yourself a Valentine card. Go to the store right now – or as soon as you finish reading this(!) Browse the card aisle until you find the perfect card. Something that looks like it was written just for you. When you get home, write a deeply personal message. Tell yourself one very specific thing that you love about you. Then, seal it with a kiss and leave it someplace for you to find tomorrow morning – maybe your bathroom counter, or the breakfast table.
- Stock up on Valentine cards. A lot of stores will have holiday goods marked down 50% or more “the day after.” Buy a dozen or more Valentine cards and send yourself one each week. Monday morning is a good time for distribution – start each week with a little shot of self-love!
- Sing yourself a Love Song. Almost any love song can be redirected at yourself. Pick your favorite and belt it out in the shower, or standing in front of a mirror. I am particularly enamored of “A, You’re Adorable” and “You Are My Sunshine”, but I’ll let you pick your own.
- Post It. What are “Post-it Notes” for, if not to leave yourself little messages of love and acceptance? Write down a dozen things you love about yourself and post them all over the house. Slip a little note inside your briefcase, or lunch bag. Who cares who sees them? Stand up for your right to appreciate yourself.
- Write Yourself a Love Letter. Okay, here comes the serious stuff. Take some quiet time and write yourself a real love letter. Devote at least a full page to really acknowledging all the wonderful things you see in you. Are you in love yet? Keep writing.
As it turns out, loving yourself works a lot like loving someone else: Actions and words both count. Treat yourself kindly. Take good care of your body, mind and spirit. Be forgiving.
As Oscar Wilde put it, “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”
Or as Randy Travis almost put it in 1987,
“I’m gonna love ME forever. Forever and ever, Amen.”