We hear all the time, “You have to love yourself.” How do we do that? Someone once told me that the answer was to look myself in the eye in the mirror and say, “I love you.” It didn’t work. You can’t force love and you can’t fake it. Loving yourself does not follow the “fake ‘till you make it” philosophy. It has to be real and it has to come from inside.
If there are parts of your life that you are ashamed of or that you have blocked from your mind, you are not loving yourself. Most of my childhood was a complete blank. Much of my life that I could remember, I locked away in a dark closet because I didn’t like the way I felt when I remembered it. I thought I was doing the courageous thing, the smart thing, in just moving on. Moving forward with your life is great, but there has to be acceptance and letting go first.
When I realized how much of my life I had rejected, I saw how much of my self I rejected. No wonder I was sad all the time and always felt alone. The person closest to me couldn’t bear to look at me. That had to change. I wanted to love and accept myself. I wanted to be happy. I will tell you what worked for me. Maybe it will help you, too.
In meditation, I thought of the first time I could remember being really hurt and frightened. I saw the little girl that I was and had compassion for her. I could see how much pain she was in. She was all alone. It was different, looking at the situation as an adult and a witness, instead from the eyes of a child. I hurt for her, not me. I imagined giving her a big hug and saying, “It’s alright now. You are safe. You are not alone. I love you.” Immediately, I felt such a rush of love and release that it sent shivers up my spine. I did this process with each major incident I could remember and at each stage of my life. The effect was profound.
Loving and comforting the person I was in the past healed the wounds I had carried with me all my life. It was like a ripple, expanding through the years right up to the present, healing everything along the way. The dark cloud gave way to light and I felt suddenly released from years of bondage. That was the moment I began to love myself, truly and deeply.
I am a different person, now. I believe in myself. I am kind to myself and relate better to others. The doormat is gone, replaced by a confident, happy woman. This technique was not easy and certainly not painless, but the rewards are worth the effort. A lifetime of pain and self-rejection does not heal overnight, but if you do this process for a little while, you will benefit from it the rest of your life.