The Love Letters
Consider this: if you don’t love yourself, you’re telling the world you’re not worthy of love.
I wrote seven love letters to myself last week, one for each day of the week. Awkward? Maybe. Self-illuminating? Definitely.
I am becoming very mindful of the little voice in my head that whispers insulting things to me. You know that voice? It’s the one that sits on your shoulder like a finger-wagging mean mommy, observing what you do and occasionally doling out biting zingers.
For me, it’s just a whisper, but it’s there, nudging me and putting me down, generally right when I’m circling the drain. She wrinkles her nose in disgust and spits, “You should definitely not wear that, Tubby Tubsville” or “No one really likes you” or “You are so dumb/boring/washed-up/wrinkly/fat/cuckoo for cocoa puffs.” You get the drift.
I have come to a place now where I want to flick this finger-wagging meanie off my shoulder once and for all.
So I did an experiment and spent a week romancing myself. I wined and dined me. I spent a few minutes each morning writing myself a love letter, consciously praising myself for the 20,000,003 things I accomplish in a day. I tried to banish negative self-talk, with much effort. I put Tubby Tubsville in a dark, spider-y corner of my closet. I stopped kicking myself in the teeth and worked on accepting myself, spare tire and all.
To be honest, quitting verbal abuse cold turkey was challenging, and I kept back-tracking to the familiar way of slapping myself silly. I found myself wondering if there’s rehab for self-inflicted verbal abuse. (“Hi, my name is Emily. I enjoy long walks on the beach and talking shit to myself.”)
However, in writing the love letters, I found a common theme. Over and over, I kept telling myself, albeit in different words, to listen to my inner voice, to get quiet and follow my instincts. Instead of listening to the finger-wagger, I should be listening to another voice: the one that is deep within, the one that says, “You should really explore this” or “That doesn’t quite feel right” or “Yes, that Zebra cake does look tasty, but it is not going to make you feel good to eat it.” This voice is encouraging, loving, insightful, and always rings true.
As you can see, I’m hearing a lot of voices lately. (Don’t judge). The negative ones are loud and obnoxious, like an annoying drunk in a bar. They garner the attention and offer the most prickly entertainment value. The positive ones are more of a quiet and subtle purr. It’s hard to pick out the purr over the din of the drunk, but I’m becoming more conscious of which voices push me to greatness and which ones keep me conveniently locked down.
As I get older, I realize the most important relationship I have is the one with myself. If I can adore and respect myself, I can commune with everyone and everything else in a healthier way: God, friends, husband, kids, family, co-workers, even wine and Zebra cakes. Unquestionably, however I feel about myself gets reflected back to me tenfold in my relationships, my encounters with others, and my own behavior.
Consider this: if you don’t love yourself, you’re telling the world you’re not worthy of love. And so that’s what you’ll get, over and over again. That is powerful.
Oscar Wilde said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” I am on a journey to fully love myself because I believe this romance is the key to true happiness. I challenge you to join me. Just like a marriage, this romance will be hard work and effortful at times. We have to put our big-girl boots on and get in the trenches to shush the negative, soul-crushing whispers. Then, over and over, we have to get very quiet, either through prayer, meditation, or just plain sitting still. Once we’re quiet, we can hear, as clear as a song, the voices that build us up, spring us forward, and lead us to our true callings. These voices, I’m sure of it, are the true love letters.