In this month of love for self and others, I’ve been challenging my clients to look at how they can love themselves more. I don’t mean spa treatments, eating chocolate and just taking a nap kinda self-love–though fun and enjoyable, of course. I mean inner core “love beyond all understanding” type of self-love.
So often we can extend love, kindness, tolerance and acceptance to others, but we are so super critical of ourselves. We are afraid that we will be egotistical, vain, arrogant or conceited if we praise ourselves. But if you were to look at yourself and others through the eyes of the soul, and you believe we are each lovable and part of the divine, then why is it so hard to extend that level of love, adoration and acceptance towards yourself?
I am lucky that I grew up with a grandmother who learned the value of self-love, especially in a time when women were supposed to be good housewives who tolerated domestic abuse and were subservient to their husbands. Every morning, she would look at herself in the mirror and say “Oh, Ernestine, you are so precious and adorable. I just love you so much. You are beautiful, smart and capable.” Yes, it was the mirror work of the 80s self-esteem movement, but it worked. She lived to 92, knew how to laugh and enjoy herself, she was the top Avon Sales Lady in Canada and she loved to sleep in the nude under the moonlight. She was a Diva and I loved her.
What I learned from her was the power of looking in the mirror and truly seeing yourself — not with a narcissistic lens but a lens of tenderness towards oneself.
I recently did an exercise that I learned from FemCity where you look in the mirror and state 3 things you see about yourself — your qualities not your physical features. Then you write down 3 stories you tell yourself. When I did this exercise, I was blown away. When I looked at myself, I saw someone who is strong, capable and mature. The story I had about myself was that I was anxious, wounded and hurtful. My mind had made up a whole perspective of myself based on past wounds and conflicts with others. What I saw in the mirror and how others see me is completely different that my inner critic. So simple but it made an inner shift. The soul is way more powerful than the ego-critical mind.
So I invite you to do this exercise — look in the mirror at your eyes and being and soul. What qualities do you see? Write this down. Then write down three critical stories you tell yourself. So which perspective do you want to hold about yourself? I hope it’s the one that is actually true rather than your mistakes or wounds.
May the divine in me connect with the divine in you.