"I love and approve of myself". This is an affirmation that I have found incredibly helpful over the past several years. One of the most important things about this statement, when I first started to use it, was the realization that I didn't believe it. It wasn't true for me. Maybe I loved myself on some level, but self approval was something I definitely lacked. And the love I had for myself seemed tied to achievement; it was conditional. Like most of us, I felt like I wasn't enough, like I should be doing better or more than I was. But why?
Let me start by stating up front, that I have FANTASTIC parents. I am so grateful to them for being exactly who they are. However, surely, the way I was parented had something to do with my feeling if insecurity, of not being enough. But did they ever say this to me? Did they try to motivate me with comments like "You can do better than that" or "Carrie, it's just not good enough"? On the contrary! I grew up in the "Good Job" generation. I was parented with positive reinforcement. So why, then, did I achieve my way through childhood and young adulthood, only to feel unworthy, and like an impostor in my own life? And why was it so hard for me to approve of myself?
Alfie Kohn suggests that my feelings of emptiness and unworthiness are directly related to the positive reinforcement I received as a child. It's definitely food for thought. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html?_r=2
Yet there is no need for me to BLAME my parents for my insecurity. My task in adulthood is to re-parent myself. Once I became conscious of the fact that I didn't approve of myself, my job was to learn how to do this. And as it turned out, it was easier than you might think. It took some introspection, and some deliberate re-wiring of my own thought patters, but saying, writing, and allowing myself to feel "I love and approve of myself" has truly helped. As I write this, I still struggle with bouts of self doubt and insecurity, but I absolutely love and approve of myself on a very deep and fundamental level. I realize that I am complete and lovable as I am, and that I am worthy of love and approval from others. It took a little work, but it was completely worth the journey.
If this post has resonated with you, and you live in or near Huntington Beach, California, I encourage you to join me for the Mommy-Mind Makeover on February 16th at 7:30 PM. It's $45 and all proceeds go to North Huntington Beach Community Nursery School, an amazing little Co-Op preschool that supports the philosophy of unconditional parenting (http://nhbcns.org/NHBCNS/Welcome.html ). For specifics, email me at email@example.com .