When was the last time you said "I love you" to yourself? Now that's an unusual question, isn't it? When is the last time you served as your own personal development coach? I'm curious about your answer. Embrace your answer without judging yourself; wtwhatever it is, accept it solely as information.
An Exercise for You
Here's an exercise that may help. Sit down in a place where you won't be disturbed. Breathe in and out three times. Close your eyes and see yourself standing in front of a mirror. Now, be there in front of that mirror. Say to yourself, either silently or out loud, "(Your name), I Love You." How does it feel to the part of you who is saying it? Why are you saying it? And for the part of you who is hearing and receiving it, can you let it in? Does it feel good or not? What are you feeling in your body? Do you feel worthy of such self-love? Do you deserve it? If you do really feel loved — wonderful.
If you can't say it, or if it's too hard to let the love in, then you may want to start saying "I love you" to others more often and see what happens. By doing so, you're working on strengthening your love for yourself. It's impossible to not feel positive when you're actively engaging in loving behaviors!
What did you discover in this excercise? When was the last time you said "I love you" to yourself — upon waking this morning? Before going to sleep last evening? A month ago? You can't remember? Ever? Or are you much more accustomed to hear yourself saying, "I hate this wrinkle," or "Look at those extra five pounds!"?
It was Carl Rogers, the psychologist, who said the hardest thing for people to say to each other are the very positive things. That is true for ourselves as well. In fact, I'm remembering both loving and hating myself. They are two different worlds. I recall one morning, years ago, around Halloween when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and felt such hatred for myself and the way I looked — even with makeup on. I was devastated. At the time, I had no voice to respond to this hateful voice to say something like, "Excuse me, but you don't get to talk to me that. For any reason!" So I too know what it feels like to not love yourself.
After awakening to and transcending my early inner world, I now know love in addition to hate. I hear a voice from within say "I so love you" many times a day. And I hear another voice say, "I love you, too." This happens when I feel sad, lonely, when I'm trying something new, and sometimes just because. That kind of unconditional love is good for all of us. It is our birthright. It reminds me of Derek Walcott's beautiful poem "Love after Love."
You don't actually have to say the words out loud or even silently; what's important is having the feeling of self love.
If you say "I love you" to yourself several times a day or a week, then I dance with you. But before we get too celebratory, I wonder if you know from where your "I love you" comes. You see, we can feel pride for achievement, accomplishment, or what we might call conditional "love" — which is not really love at all. Do you love yourself today because the number on your scale is low enough? Or did you just get engaged and are proving you are lovable? These are external factors. Keep reading...
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