Learning to love yourself can be a challenge. We have no problem loving our kids unconditionally, but when it comes to loving ourselves, we tend to put a whole lot of conditions in place. We say we’ll feel better about ourselves when we lose some extra weight, land that big new business deal at work, or finally get off our lazy butts and write those thank you notes like we said we would (two weeks ago).
So while there might be a lot of love in your heart, most of it never makes it back to you. You’re too busy doling it out to the dozens of people around you who seem to need it—your children, your partner, the soccer coach, the baseball coach, the cashier at the grocery store, the woman who runs the parking garage at your office…
So how can you start yelling at yourself less and loving yourself more?
There’s no shortage of spiritual gurus in the world who speak, write, and lecture on the topic. The problem is that most busy moms who find themselves filled with more than their share of self-doubt tend to find that advice on the silly side.
Another option is to turn to some of my favorite self-help books for wisdom and sage advice on the self-love subject, but that method requires a significant time investment—which I’m guessing you don’t have lying around in excess.
So! I have an alternative for you.
First, find a classic love song station on the radio or music streaming service and crank the volume on your headphones or in your car. Next, close your eyes and imagine that every song was written by you, for you. In other words, resist the temptation to imagine your long-lost boyfriend singing them, and imagine singing them to yourself.
What happens next is magical: boring songs get interesting, sappy songs get serious, and you begin to think about how much you love yourself after all.
I recently tried this exercise at the gym—and I learned a lot about love during my squats and sit-ups! The Pandora station I chose shuffled through everything from Elvis to Disney.
Here are six sets of lyrics, from six different songs, and the self-love lesson that I took away from each.
“I love the way you love me.” When I listened to this John Michael Montgomery song in a self-love context, I nearly fell off the treadmill. Can you imagine a world in which this thought was the first one that crossed your mind before getting out of bed each day? “Good morning, (insert your name). Man, I love the way you love me.” It might take some significant soul searching for you to get to that point, but it’s a worthy goal to start working towards.
“Suppose I called you up and told you that I loved you?” Can you imagine having the courage to tell yourself how much you loved yourself? What if you wrote a love letter to yourself, highlighting how smart, pretty, talented, and funny you are? And how much you loved the new chicken fajitas recipe you nailed the other night? You’d swoon, sis!
“I’m going to love you like I’m going to lose you.” Well, there’s a truth if I’ve ever heard one. We should be loving ourselves like we’re going to lose ourselves, because that’s exactly what happens when you neglect yourself. When you give everything you have to everyone around you, there’s nothing left for you. How can you start loving yourself like you’re going to lose yourself, if you don’t start being nicer, kinder, and gentler to yourself? Great advice to keep in mind!
“When the rain is blowing in your face, and the whole world is on your case, I can offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love.” Wow, Adele. Just…wow. What if you were your own mood enhancer and didn’t rely on your children’s reactions, husband’s support, or red wine to get you through tough times? What if when life threw a really difficult situation in your face, you said to yourself, “You can do this, you’re stronger than this, you’re tougher than this, and I’m here to love you every step of the way, so you never forget it”?
“You say it best when you say nothing at all.” Um, hello?! This is the best advice ever, Alison Krause. As mothers, we’re so hard on ourselves, so mean to ourselves, and the cruelest words we’ll ever hear are the ones we never say out loud—the ones that suggest we’re not good enough, nice enough, tough enough, wife enough, daughter enough, or mom enough. Sounds like you’d love yourself more if you could just zip it once in a while.
“Let it go.” That’s not Elsa talking to your daughter. It’s you talking to you. What do you need to let go of in your life right now? Is it your hesitation to join the gym again, your guilt over sending Reese’s Cups to your daughter’s nut-free classroom, or your belief that being behind on the laundry makes you a horrible human being? Make like an ice princess and move on, already!
I have found tremendous relief from this new technique for turning up the volume on self-love. It doesn’t take any extra time out of my day, doesn’t cost a penny and rekindles my love affair with taking care of myself. I can’t recommend it enough. Try it out today!