I dare you to go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say these nine words with sincerity. However absurd or difficult it may seem, I can tell you from experience that these words will help to heal your life. The nine words I’m talking about are:
“I love and accept you exactly as you are.”
These are the words you’ve been waiting for someone important to say to you. Without realizing it, you’ve been waiting for YOURSELF to say them to you, and mean it sincerely.
You are the most important human in your own life. You are the person you most need to learn to live peacefully with.
The Reasons Not to Heal Your Life
You might be thinking of the reasons why you shouldn’t have to love yourself. The less-than-awesome things in your past. The stupid things you’ve said. The physical imperfections, the many shortcomings. None of this matters. I’ll tell you why.
There’s No Time But the Present to Heal Your Life
Whatever your past holds doesn’t matter. As a matter of fact, there is no past. It’s an illusion, tucked away in dusty old memory cells. (Did you know that you can’t even remember a memory without altering it slightly? It’s true; you can’t fully trust your memory because it’s effectively been tampered with).
The only moment that exists is the present, and the present is the moment you can choose to make a change.
Starting with the Woman in the Mirror
I did this mirror exercise the other day, and I was surprised by the way it cut right through to the heart of how I was feeling.
I immediately felt my eyes well up with tears. I couldn’t hide. I had to admit that I didn’t talk to myself in a loving way.
I also found myself laughing with relief that this insight had found its way to me at last. What a breath of fresh air to be reminded that it’s NOT OK to be mean to yourself! And more than that, it’s not OK to not love yourself.
I suddenly noticed that I looked prettier, happier, and lighter in the mirror. Imagine that.
Everyone’s In the “Not Good Enough” Club
I can assure you, this exercise was not my invention. See, I’ve always been squarely in the “Not Good Enough” club rather than the “Love Myself” club.
What I didn’t realize is that everyone else (nearly) is also in the “Not Good Enough” club.
Louise Hay, one of the pioneers of the self-help genre, wrote You Can Heal Your Life to try to share the experience of what it was like to work with her in a private life-coaching session.
(The ego is generally regarded as the part of you that wants to think you are either more special or LESS special than everyone else, thus separating you from everyone else. When, in fact, you are inextricably connected to everyone else and meant to be so.)
The Commandment to Love Yourself
What Jesus spoke of as the second-most-important commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” obviously means that you should be nice to other people. But, less obviously, it also means that you should be as nice to yourself as you would be to other people.
As Hay points out, you can’t possibly be good to the people around you and help others if you are allowing self-hatred to remain in your life.
Don’t Let the Reasons Become Excuses
All the reasons why you are not nice to yourself don’t matter, because they are in the past. That’s why endlessly dissecting your childhood or what went wrong in all your previous relationships is only helpful up to a point. You can’t stay there.
Those things all happened in the past, and you can’t allow past events to become present-day excuses for not loving yourself.
Your life changes in the now, right now, and you get to be the one to flip the switch.
Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It
Look at yourself in a mirror, any mirror. Look yourself in the eye and say, “I love and accept you exactly as you are.” Pay attention to how silly or uncomfortable you feel. Notice any difficult feelings that come up. These feelings are coming up because they need your attention.
If you can’t bring yourself to do this exercise yet, for whatever reason, be patient with yourself. Set an intention to come back to it. Ask for help, whether in prayer or by seeing a therapist or talking with a friend you trust. The desire to grow is a sign that you are meant to do so. You’ll get there.
UPDATE: There’s Someone Else Who Loves You Even More
Now that I’m done telling you what I found helpful about this book, I’m going to tell you why I actually don’t recommend it!
Since I first wrote this blog post, I’ve realized that You Can Heal Your Life and books like it have been intriguing me lately because I’ve been going through a dry spell in my Christian faith. And while books like this can be helpful or uplifting, ultimately they’ll just distract you from the person/power/love who can REALLY heal your life. Someone who loves you more than you can imagine. Jesus!
I’m embarrassed that this didn’t occur to me sooner! But that’s what this blog is about: my process of learning out loud, in the hope that it might help someone else. And I know God is able to use even our missteps for good.
Ideas presented in this blog are for informational purposes only and are not intended to replace professional advice.