I suppose it’s possible that you’ve never seen the Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” if you live under a rock somewhere maybe. I’m guessing you’re not a hobbit though since you were tech savvy enough to stumble across this post. That being said, I want you to think about that ever so famous self-love question the Evil Queen asks,
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
Now I want you to honestly think about how many times you’ve wondered the same thing as you cast your oh so critical gaze upon your own reflection. Did you think it this morning as you were getting ready to leave for work and checked yourself one last time in the mirror to make sure you passed inspection before rushing out the door?
Maybe you did it as you were washing your hands while taking a bathroom break after lunch. Who knows, you might be wanting to do it right now because I’m calling your attention to it. All I can say is, I’m sure you’ve taken a good long look in the mirror very recently and shaken your head at the reflection gazing back at you.
What causes us to be so hyper critical of ourselves anyway? You have a few hairs out of place, your shirt makes you look pudgy, your eyes look a little tired from your less than perfect night of sleep…whatever it is you don’t like at that moment, instead of just dismissing it, you fixate on it, right? I know it’s not just me.
Let me try to explain this skewed perspective we have of ourselves. Since birth, the approval of others has been ingrained into us on our quest for survival. Without this acceptance, a tiny baby could never survive. Not quite sure of the picture I’m painting for you yet? Think of the last time you brought home a new puppy. He followed along at your heels, observing and reacting to your every move. Now you’re feeling my vibe.
The puppy, aka you, relies on the acceptance of others to survive, doing anything he can to gain the love and approval of others. Sound a little too familiar?
Let me ask you a sobering question about love. When someone asks you to name the people you love and care about, what’s your first response? Your spouse? Child? Parents? Bestie? I’ll wager your immediate response isn’t, “myself.” Hell, I’ll gamble that your name doesn’t hit your top 5 if you even make the list at all.
My point here is a simple one. You may think I’m hinting at my ever so popular, “quit comparing yourself to others if you want to be happy,” advice. My response would be, “did you blink and miss it?” or maybe you’re just skipping to the juicy stuff because you feel guilty for avoiding your to do list while you’re surfin’ the net. Back to the point, you need to love YOU first. That’s it, plain and simple.
Seemingly impossible, you think. I’d say you’re right, but only marginally. Let me explain.
It’s not easy to love everything about yourself as you are since you’ve been conditioned to seek the approval of others to survive. It’s safe to say since you’re grown and living as an adult in the real world that you’ve had your share of ups and downs, highs and lows, achievements and failures, wins and losses, et cetera, et cetera. I also happen to know that no matter how likable you are, someone you’ve encountered at some point treated you like you had the plague.
You know what? That’s okay. You don’t like everyone you meet, do you? Then why would you expect or even want everyone you meet to like you? Even a reformed people pleaser like me is okay that some people just don’t like me. It’s exhausting to have everyone like you all the time anyway. The only exception I make to this is myself. I won’t allow ME not to like me. No more loathing, no more doubt, no more anger, no more hatred, no more disbelief, no more disapproval, no more pity. Unless it is love, I simply won’t accept that feeling.
Here’s where we touch on the “you being marginally right” part. Just because I promoted myself to the top of my loved one’s list doesn’t mean I love everything about myself. It means I accept myself as I am. I see my strengths and my weaknesses. When a flaw bothers me enough to tempt waking the ugly beast of self-doubt, I know it’s time for me to change.
My challenge for you is this…give yourself this same promotion. Put loving yourself first and it will make taking care of all the other people you love a whole lot easier. Maybe even more importantly, it will make changing your flaws into your strengths seem like a slightly more possible task. And remember, knowing and accepting your flaws makes it impossible for someone else to use them against you.
The greatest tool of self-love is self-awareness. Once you truly know yourself, love is the only option.