Monday, February 1, 2010

Self-Love = Egotistical?

My daughter asked me a thoughtful question: "Mom, is it OK for us to feel a 10 about ourselves?"
Some background: many of you who work with me using EFT know that I use the scale of 0 to 10 to measure the intensity level on feelings as well as the "truth" of belief-statements. So, my daughter was simply indicating a scale, in this case "10", in how good she was feeling about herself.

This question struck me as very poignant for several reasons: (1) there was a possibilty that it is not "OK" to feel good about ourselves, (2) that despite the belief I share openly with my family that we all deserve to feel good about ourselves, she is clear that, outside our home, this belief is not shared with her circle of friends in school, which led me to point (3): while my daughter attends a school that believes in developing children's self-esteem by honoring who they are, the influence of the message "it is not ok to feel so good about yourself" is still very strong.

I chose to answer her question with another question: "Why wouldn't it be?" She answered, "Some of my friends think that it is selfish if I feel great about who I am, or if I think I am a '10'. I wonder if I am being egotistical?" Sensing that she needed an assurance, I shared my viewpoint that "If you see yourself as a '10', and you see others as a '10' even if you don't like their behavior, then I think you can safely say that you are not egotistical. If you think you are a '10' and all others are '1' or '2' and you have the right to walk all over them, then you might get into egotistical territory." I didn't know if I was correct or not on this, but this is how I view the situation. My daughter seemed hugely comforted.

Then, she asked again, "What if your friend who feel like a '5' gets mad at you because you are feeling like a '10'?" I shared with her what I learned from one of my teachers: "Another person's refusal to honor and love themselves is none of my business." So, together, we decided that she didn't need to bend down to match the level '5' if that's not how she was feeling. No one ever needs to. She is always allowed to feel as good about herself as she wants to feel, and she can allow others to feel how they want to feel about themselves. It is not her responsibility to make others feel good about themselves, especially at the expense of her self-love.

Her eyes beamed with peace as she embraced that liberating decision. As a mother, I felt a sense of relief and compassion flowing through me. I remembered struggling with the same question until my mid-30's. I felt grateful that she had a chance to have what I hope to be a different and more life-affirming perspective on self-love.

My definition of self-love involves respecting, accepting and appreciating myself. It also involves giving myself the validation and recognition I deserve, and being honest with myself about my feelings, needs, desires, limitations and strengths. It involves being patient as I grow in my awareness and learn how to love in life, allowing my gifts and talents to shine and benefit the world I have chosen to be my home. I believe that, as part of self-love, it is also important that we develop the ability to set boundaries in a respectful, and truthful way to others and ourselves.

I love this affirmation from Louise Hay: "I come from the loving space of my heart, and know that love opens all doors. I have come to this planet to learn to love myself more, and to share those love with all those around me."

It is more than OK for each of us to love ourselves and feel great about who we are, I think it's divine!

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