We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve
“What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” Joseph Chilton Pearce
"We accept the love we think we deserve" is from the book and movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It struck a chord deep within me when I heard Paul Rudd deliver the line. And it's not just because of his puppy dog eyes. There is so much truth in this simple sentence.
Now this is nothing new and we have heard it before, but I think it bears repeating. (If you are anything like me, sometimes it takes a few hundred times to really let a message sink in.)
A big part of this seemingly simple equation is taking care of ourselves. Treating ourselves with brave kindness, unconditional compassion, and authentic love is an essential piece to our overall happiness.
If we want others to love us, we have to love ourselves exactly for who we are in this moment, supposed flaws and all.
When I share this message with a friend, a family member, or in a yoga class, I sometimes get the feeling there is a bit of eye rolling going on, or worse, I hear the voice of the Stuart Smalley character from Saturday Night Live. I see him looking in the mirror declaring, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
Speaking to ourselves gently is just one way to be kind to ourselves. Sometimes it means taking time off, saying no to an invitation to go out, taking medication, seeing a therapist, exercising, going to a sacred place like church or temple, getting fresh air, eating healthy, not over drinking, etc. It always means listening and honoring our intuition.
The other day, I read an article posted on Facebook by a friend, called, How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom. It's about opening conversations with girls about topics other than their appearance. The author talks of refraining from commenting on girls' looks and instead choosing to discuss books and other worthy subjects. If a child believes their worth is all about appearance, it could be detrimental to their developing self esteem. This hit home for me as I often talk to my daughter about how adorable she looks. Oops.
This article was really insightful. I also think while it is hugely important how we speak to our daughters, and children on a whole, it is crucial, as well, how we speak to ourselves. Trust me this is not easy for me, but when our little ones witness us smiling at the reflection in the mirror, treating our own bodies with respect, they in turn will do the same.
Much of a young girl's self esteem comes from her mother's self esteem. We can teach our children how important loving oneself is, but practicing this yourself will reach them in a way preaching never will.
This brings to mind a recent story. At the end of the school year, Will, my six year old son, was working on a writing assignment. I was sitting with him completing my own assignment for school when I noticed the tears in his eyes. He was beyond frustrated with how messy his handwriting was.
I casually told Will to pause, put his pencil down, and take a deep breath. I then pointed to the center of the collage I was making. There sat a picture of the Buddha. I pleaded with Will to remember this very important message. Buddha said, “You, more than anyone else in the world, deserves your love and affection”. To that, Will turned and said, “Now why don’t they teach that in school?”
It is true, we accept the love we think we deserve, and each and every one of us deserves a whole lot of extraordinary, life affirming, sunbeam bursting, unconditional LOVE! Love is not reserved for a handful of lucky people, we all possess this brilliant love within us. It's where we come from, and it 's where we go back to.
One more thing...We are smart enough, we are good enough and doggone it, people not only like us, they love us!