I remember the first time I intentionally looked into my own eyes (with the help of a full length mirror) and said, “I love you”.
I couldn’t do it.
It felt like a big lie.
I was so uncomfortable in my own skin.
This was an incredibly painful exercise.
This is also one of the most transformational exercises I’ve ever done to finally break my relationship with self-loathing. I share this exercise with every women I work with who battle low self-esteem and self-worth because self-love is the first step to defeating the hold these have in our lives. I invite you to try this exercise for yourself and watch your truthful reaction. It’s perfect how ever it shows up because it’s exactly where you are on this journey.
Stand naked in front of a full length mirror, take a moment to really look at every part of you. Notice how you look at yourself ~ with love or distain? Notice how you feel ~ are you comfortable or uncomfortable with what you see? Then look into your own eyes and say out loud, “I love you”. I bet you are in full discomfort at this point and that your eyes broke contact.
Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your experience of this, for myself and all the women I’ve shared this with I can say, we know how you feel. The good news is, it gets easier to do the more you practice and the day you can comfortably look without looking away is the day you can honestly say, “I love you, with all your flaws, smiles, tears, habits, everything, I just love you.
This is the day you connect with yourself in a way you’ve never imagined for yourself, and it’s the day you truly feel love as it was intended to be felt because you are worthy of it. It’s also really important to understand that self-love IS NOT the same as self-absorbed like our society would like us to believe! Looking back at my own relationship with self-love I can see why my self-worth, self-care and self-esteem were so low!
I remember my mother reminding me that it wasn’t nice to stare at myself in the mirror, it was vain or having girlfriends say “you think you are something special” like that was something bad. How many of us heard a parent say “stop thinking about yourself, stop being so selfish, it’s rude to care about yourself first”. I grew up in the era of being a good girl meant taking care of everyone else’s needs before your own. I am so glad we have evolved! Thank goodness we have re-discovered the importance of self-love and recognize that it’s vital to truly loving others!
The fact is loving yourself first is the doorway to truly loving others in a way that we were meant to feel love. I think RuPaul says it best and I quote: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell can you love anyone else!” I love RuPaul, s-he says it with such clarity. I see self-love as filling my cup first and it over-flows nourishing others in the process. The more love I have for myself, the more love I have to give others and I can’t give what I don’t have.