Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, once said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” When most of us read this quote we think of the strength, courage and love exchanged between two people; but what about loving ourselves? Can you say, “I love you” to yourself? What would strength and courage feel like if it came from the deep love within you?
In her book, You Can Live and Exceptional Life, Louise L. Hay talks about the importance of loving yourself. “When you hate yourself, tell yourself how ugly you are, or hide from a mirror, you start to feel really uncomfortable. You don’t feel good at all. You won’t enjoy anything in your day, and very little good will come to you. But when you do something as simple as look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself, even when it’s hard to do or you don’t believe it, your energy shifts. Then, you go through your day, you feel better and attract better circumstances.”
Many people walk this earth without even thinking about loving themselves. The thought of looking in the mirror and saying, “I love you” is scary for some, it even feels impossible for many. But what if we could think of ourselves and feel love? Our world would be transformed.
Most of us learn to love from our mothers: it’s the gaze into our eyes when she is holding us; the kind words when our hearts are hurting; and the hugs when we are crying that teaches us the feeling of love. Unfortunately, many infants, children, teenagers and even adults miss out on a mother’s love for a variety of reasons. Some get moments of love from their mothers in their young lives, but the deep ability to connect may not be clear to us, it may even feel painful and confusing. Missing out on learning to love stops us from being able to love another deeply and it especially keeps us from loving ourselves.
So what do we do if our past keeps us from loving deeply, particularly ourselves? First, imagine telling yourself “I love you.” Is it hard, easy, scary? If you can’t love yourself, acknowledge that something in your history taught you this. It’s not who you are, it’s your experience(s) that gave you this message. Understanding and acknowledging that any difficulty loving yourself is not truly who you are, but a message that someone else taught you, is the beginning of letting it go. Now when you are driving in the car or lying down to go to sleep at night, tell yourself, in your mind or out loud, “I love you.” Say it at least once every day, even if you don’t mean it. “Fake it till you make it.” Eventually, you will be able to look in the mirror and not see the flaws we often judge ourselves with, instead, you’ll be able to love yourself no matter what you see.
Try it…it’s better than any medication, vitamins, or therapy you can pay for. As Lao Tzu say, you will feel a deep sense of strength and courage.
Tell me, “Is it difficult for you to say, “I love you” to yourself? What do you think stops you?