I looked deep into the familiar eyes in front of me and whispered the words, ‘I love you’.
It was supposed to be a powerful life-changing moment but I ended up sniggering like a school kid who’d just heard something rude.
I composed myself and tried again. The same set of eyes refocused on me; ‘I really love you’ I said feeling like an idiot. Perhaps I should use different words. I took a deep breath, girded my loins and uttered; ‘I love myself’ to the face in the mirror. I was attempting to have a torrid affair, not with an illicit lover, but with myself.
Let me explain, recently my friend has been raving about this new book she’s read. ‘‘It has totally changed my life! I never knew I could feel this way!,’’ she gushed.
‘‘What way?’’ I asked fascinated by her enthusiasm, she hasn’t been this excited since Robbie Williams did a reunion tour with Take That.
‘‘I feel like me, the real me!,’’ she enthused.
‘‘So the other you was a false one?,’’ I quizzed.
‘‘She was underwhelming. This me is totes amazeballs! Who knew?’’ she asked.
‘‘Well I did and I’ve told you often enough,’’ I replied.
‘‘Yeah but I thought you were just being nice!,’’ she said.
‘‘So what’s this book called?,’’ I asked.
‘‘Love yourself like your life depends on it,’’ she replied.
Not wanting to be left out of this life-changing malarkey, I went to a book website and after reading 192 gushing reviews of what a miracle this book is, I purchased it.
The last reviewer warned not to buy it unless I was ready to transform my life. Are you kidding, I thought, I’m more than ready!
‘Beam me up Scottie’, I whispered to myself as I downloaded the book, I was ready to climb onboard the mother-ship of self-adoration. And that’s how I found myself standing in front of the mirror proclaiming my undying love for myself.
The book told me to do it, but it wasn’t working. All I could think of was; if I love myself so much would such a chubby, little face be staring back at me? The book was short. I read it in minutes. Basically the writer just kept telling himself he loved himself repeatedly in his head and his life changed.
When he wasn’t doing that he was proclaiming it to his own reflection until he really believed it. I was surprised by how difficult I found it to have a love-in with myself.
Like a jealous lover, a critical little voice in my head kept interrupting my attempts at wooing myself. It was very easy for me to self-criticise, but the idea of telling myself I loved me felt ridiculous.
For many, it’s easy to listen and believe the self-critical voice in our minds, yet being complimentary to ourselves is more difficult.
The thought ‘I’m not good enough’ creeps in from nowhere. Low self-value can start in childhood if we absorb negative comments from others in our formative years, or if we have a parent who is constantly critical of themselves, setting an example for us to act that way.
Many women suffer from low self-esteem. This week research revealed in the workplace women ask for wages which are a fifth less than men’s. It’s clear many women undervalue themselves. Women are also bombarded in the media with photoshopped images of models who don’t even look that way in real life, giving the subliminal message that we are not good enough.
Trying out this loving exercise made me aware of how my critical self-talk seems normal to me, which it shouldn’t. Why shouldn’t I like myself I thought?
My friends have told me I’m caring and supportive, couldn’t I be a better friend to myself? When a relationship goes wrong you frequently hear people say the magic has gone, perhaps that’s what happens in our relationship with ourselves. We forget the times in our lives when we have created magic for ourselves and others. We start to undervalue ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but every woman I’ve ever known has been pretty amazing in their own way.
I look in the mirror again and say the magic words but I still get a look of unrequited love from my reflection. The book claims we must keep proclaiming our love until our brain has no option but to accept it. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others treat you. I’m off to buy myself some flowers and book a pampering session, why? Because I’m worth it! (Allegedly)