So, I was looking for an old blog post to find the name of a book tonight when I came across this blog post originally published on November 23, 2008- which is one of my most read blog posts (as it turns out, people enter How Can I Begin to Love Myself in search engines and, hence, get brought to this post). What struck me about it is that these sort of conversations that I reference here- a woman who read Hijas emailing me to ask me how she could fall in love with herself- were exactly the conversations that actually led me to pitch and write Beautiful You in 2009 (so that it could then be published in 2010). The other thing that struck me is that while I don’t remember checking out this post when I wrote Beautiful You, so many of these suggestions ended up in the book in some way.
Hope you’ll enjoy this flashback:
I was cleaning out my sent items today and came across an email that I sent out about this time last year. A reader emailed me and mentioned that she had just ended a bad relationship and she was having a hard time finding any self love both because the relationship had beaten her down emotionally and also because she was disappointed in the way that she had allowed herself to get beaten down. I thought I would share my reponse and advice:
Hooray—you are taking the next step. You wallowed a bit and now it sounds like you want to move to the next step. You are doing great! So building up one’s self-esteem is hard work, but it sounds like you are ready. The great thing is that it is the best gift you can give yourself and your children. Here are some steps that came quickly to mind (a little prescription for yourself, if you will). You don’t have to do all of them at once, you don’t have to do all of them. They are just things that have worked for me. You can do these for a bit, see how they are going, and make any tweaks necessary.
1. Get a journal and get the book The Artist’s Way. Read the premise. See if you can commit to doing the 12 week session. I did it at 23, and it was revolutionary for me. Revolutionary. If you can commit to it, choose a start date and go.
2. I find that my sense of self has always come from believing more in what I do than in what I am (ie what I look like or what role I play). Having a positive self-esteem is in part about doing things that are worthy of esteem— doing esteemable acts. Here are the things that have worked for me.
- I try to have meaningful interactions with people. I try to offer good advice and listen well. I try to offer the parts of my experience that might be helpful. By being helpful to the people in my world, I find that I have a real sense of fulfillment.
- Find a way to contribute to the world— there are so many ways to volunteer and/or engage in one’s community that is outside of yourself and outside of your family or job. Find one.
3. Quit analyzing out loud for a period of time. Do it in your journal and keep your motions, actions in forward momentum.
4. Write a list of 15 things to do before the end of 2009. Have fun things, practical things, and daring things on it and maybe even a thing or two that you want to change, then start planning on how you are going to achieve them. Then start achieving them.
5. Do not give anyone—including yourself—permission to demean you. Call yourself on it and anyone else. Someone demeans you, disengage immediately.
6. In your journal, write down a list of strengths you see in yourself. Revisit it when necessary.
7. Do something nice for yourself every week. Can be something little (a bubble bath, painting your toe nails, buying yourself a lovely piece of costume jewelry,etc)—just do something that celebrates and pampers you.
Now, back to today. This was the type of email that had me start thinking of a longer term prescription for how women could reach self-acceptance. If you were writing the prescription, what would go on it? What actions have helped you to love yourself?