Learning to love yourself can be a challenge.
We love our children unconditionally, but when it comes to loving ourselves, we tend to put a plethora of conditions in place. We’ll feel better about ourselves when we lose the extra weight we can’t seem to get off, land that big new business deal at work or finally get off our lazy butts and start writing thank you notes like we always said we would.
Sure, there might be a lot of love in your heart, but most of that love never makes it back to you because you’re so busy doling it out to the dozens of people around you at any given point in time – your children, your husband, the soccer coach, the baseball coach, the cashier at the grocery store and the woman who runs the parking garage at your office.
So how do you do it? What can you do to start yelling at yourself less and liking yourself more?
There’s no shortage of spiritual gurus out in the world speaking, writing and lecturing on the topic. The problem is that most busy moms who find themselves filled with more than their fair share of self-doubt tend to find that type of advice a bit, shall we say, “froufrou”.
Another option would be to turn to some of my favorite self-help books for wisdom and sage advice on the subject, but that method requires a significant investment of time – which I’m guessing you don’t have lying around in excess.
If you barely have enough time to brush your hair, notice your son tracking blood into your house or put on pajamas before you go to bed, then perhaps my latest way to cheat the system will work for you. I came up with the technique last week, and let me tell you, it works wonders.
The shortcut is to let the radio do your self-help work for you.
Here’s how it works: First, locate a classic love song station on the radio, Pandora or Spotify and turn up the volume on your headphones or in your car while waiting behind 62 other cars in the carpool line. 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 or ex-husband singing them to you, and imagine you singing them to yourself.
What happens next is magical – boring songs get interesting, sappy songs get serious and you begin to contemplate how much you actually do love yourself.
I tried this exercise on for size recently when I was at the gym. The Pandora station I selected shuffled through everything from Elvis to Disney and I learned a lot along the way. Here are six sets of lyrics from six different songs and the lesson on self-love that I took away from each one.
“I love the way you love me.” When I listened to this song by John Michael Montgomery within this new context, I almost fell off the treadmill. Can you imagine a world in which _this thought_was the first thought that crossed your mind every morning before you got out of bed? “Good morning, Katherine. Man, I love the way you love me.” It would take some significant soul searching for me to get to that point, but it’s a worthy goal to start working towards.
Next came a classic from Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood…
“Suppose I called you up and told you that I loved you?” Can you imagine if you had the courage and bravado 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? Oh, and how much you’re in love with the new chicken fajitas recipe you nailed the other night.
Megan Trainor even got in on the game with a gem from the hit TV show Glee…
“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!
Of course, no journey into true love would be complete without a tune from Adele…
“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. What if you were your very own mood enhancer and you didn’t have to rely on your children’s reactions, your husband’s support or red wine to get you through the tough times? What if every time 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.” Damnit, I hate crying at the gym, Adele.
Next up, leave it to Alison Krauss to state the painfully obvious…
“You say it best when you say nothing at all.” Um, hello?! This is the best advice ever. As mothers, we’re so hard on ourselves, so mean to ourselves, and the meanest words we’ll ever hear are the ones that 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. Taking a page from this song, it’s clear that you’d love yourself more if you could just stay quiet more.
And last but certainly not least…
“Let it go.” That’s not Disney talking to your daughter. It’s you talking to you. Take your own advice and run with it. 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?
At this point in my shortcut of a self-help journey, I had to change the station because I couldn’t take anymore – I was officially using the gym-issued hand towel to wipe away more tears than sweat.
Over the course of six songs, and twenty-two minutes, I learned at least a dozen tips, tricks and techniques for reducing my self-criticism and increasing my self-compassion. I learned what it would take to love myself so much that I’d be inspired to write my own love song to myself.
I can’t recommend this technique enough. It’s fast, it’s effective and it’s free.
Start tuning in to a little bit of your own self-love and see what happens!