I Love Me

Feb 18, 2016





 

by Kindness Ambassador Aviva Rabinovici


 

When my daughter was around five years old, she showed me an art project she’d created on her own, at home. It was a pink piece of construction paper cut into a rough heart-shape, and scribbled inside it said, “I love me.” And I knew, at that moment, that if she could continue feeling that way for the rest of her life, she’d be just fine.

Trouble is, as we grow up, so many of us forget that we love ourselves. There are dozens of reasons: our parents didn’t nurture or support us (let’s face it, that happens more than we’d want to admit); a boyfriend or girlfriend puts us down and makes us doubt ourselves; we bring our A-game to an educational pursuit or career choice, and get graded F; or we simply try to measure ourselves against some external ideal (whether it’s a physical or intellectual comparison), and find ourselves coming up short.

Despite the justifications we have for falling out of love with ourselves, I don’t honestly believe they are good reasons. Love is something we have in abundance, and if we choose to withhold it from ourselves, it’s not a wise choice.

I know. Easier said than done.

In the eyes of the beholder
The first time I met my friend Miriam, I commented on her magnificent, yoga-toned physique. She stood in front of the mirror and said, “I love my body.” She was 55 at the time.

A few years later, I was telling this story to a group of my friends, and one of them seemed appalled. Not at Miriam’s acknowledgement of her beauty, but at the concept of looking yourself in the mirror and expressing self-love. “Well, sure,” she said, “Miriam’s beautiful, so it’s easy for her to say that.”

But no. That’s wrong. We are all beautiful. Don’t believe it? Then I dare you to find out for yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and look at your Self. Not your body, or your hair, or your wrinkles, or your zits. Not your choice of clothes or accessories. Your Self. Look into your own eyes. Make deep eye contact. Stay there. Smile. And if you’re really, really brave, say the words I say to myself whenever I do this exercise: “Love ya, baby.” (Sometimes I even wink).

Loving-kindness
If you think this is egotistical, you’re missing the point. I’ve spent a lot time mapping the inner landscape of the ego and one thing I’ve learned is that egotism is about self-aggrandizement. The ego is in control when you exaggerate your importance, lay claim to some accomplishment that isn’t entirely yours, or try to put others down so you can feel better. Self-love, on the entirely other hand, is an act of personal kindness. It’s a willingness to acknowledge your imperfections, and love yourself despite them (and sometimes even because of them).

Think of this way: bring to mind somebody you really love. It could be a parent, lover, child, sibling, friend, even your dog. Now ask yourself: are they perfect? Parents nag, lovers demand, children fight, siblings get petty, friends disappoint, and your dog isn’t always gonna pee where you want him or her to. Do you stop loving them because of these flaws? Heck no. In fact, if it’s real love, you probably don’t even consider them flaws. They’re just part of the weft and weave of what makes us human (or, y’know, animal). So why would your flaws make you give up on yourself? Why would you even choose to perceive them as flaws?

Here we are in the world. It’s not perfect. We’re not perfect. Withholding love until we find perfection is consequently a recipe for misery. Our time on this planet is limited. If we choose to spend it expressing disdain instead of embracing joy, the journey will be filled with pain. If we choose instead to love—others, the planet, great coffee, sunshine, supportive friends, smiles from strangers, and, yes, even ourselves—we can pave the path with at least a measure of happiness, and leave kindness and compassion in our wake. I know what I choose. How about you?
 

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