Marin County, California was a haven in the 1970’s for every type of self-actualizing plan imaginable. There were many groups ready to help you honor your inner-child, face your demons and learn to build self-esteem. I was overwhelmed with choices but I was open to experimenting because of what one woman shared with me. It was a day of awakening.

Janet walked into my ceramic studio with an unpleasant look on her face. She had just come from a workshop for a psychology class required for nursing school. In a whispered tone she said, “Kay, you won’t believe what I experienced today. I was with a group of 20 classmates sitting in a circle on the floor. We each wrote our deepest secret on a tiny piece of paper which we folded and dropped onto the middle of the rug. The pile of notes was mixed and then we each proceeded to read aloud another student’s mystery.”

I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what I heard. My jaw dropped as Janet recalled the event. “One after another as we took our turn reading the secrets aloud, the group was stunned. On each folded sheet were written the words, I HATE MYSELF. Mine was the only statement that was positive.”

She and I stood there staring at each other in disbelief. We had no idea that self-loathing was so widespread. She then asked me, “Kay, do you hate yourself?”

I choked on my answer. “No, I don’t hate myself.”

“Well, how do you feel?” Janet replied.

I remember wanting so much to be able to say the words, “I love myself” but I couldn’t. What came out was, “I like myself.” LIKE, that was the best I could do. I respected myself, but no, the love wasn’t there.

It is easy to see how we have become this way. As souls living in a society which is riddled with alcoholism and drug abuse, we haven’t had much of a chance to survive with loving attitudes towards ourselves and others. We have been continuously abused mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually for many years. Almost every one of us has had a life filled with lies, chaos, and neglect. The simple act of being held as a child, or being listened to when we spoke, never happened. I doubt that you were ever kissed or hugged or told how special you were. Many of us were bloodily beaten and/or verbally criticized. These stamps of negative behavior formed what we believe to be the truth about ourselves. “We must be BAD to deserve this punishment.” It is indeed a challenge to turn this around, but, one step at time we can return to LOVE. LOVE is our natural birthright.

Our Higher Power is guiding us to open to understanding the Laws of the Universe: LOVE is the purest form of energy; LOVE is truth; LOVE is unconditional; LOVE is all there is. When we learn to love ourselves we naturally will love others and they will love us, for we are all a part of each other . . . we are one. For centuries we have perpetuated a fear-based reality. It is time now to choose the highest feeling of love we can imagine. One by one, two by two, onward and upward, we shall create love in our lives beginning with ourselves.

How do we reprogram our beliefs? Here are a few ideas that helped me on my road to healing. Open yourself to the possibilities without judging what I am about to share. These are in addition to the work I did in Al-Anon, in self-help groups and with therapists. These constructive practices became a part of my daily life:

  1. Find three photographs of yourself; one as a baby, one in your youth, and the third as an adult. Paste these on a pink board (the color of love.) The pictures are fine alone but it is okay to embellish the poster with hearts and/or other symbols which help you feel happy. Talk out loud, and/or mentally say the words, “I love you!” several times a day, while looking at the images. Even kiss the photos. Okay, I know some of you are croaking, LOL. Please, just trust and do it.
  2. Fill a tub with water and throw in Epson Salts. Soak in this hot bath for as long as you can. At first you’ll be quite uncomfortable and probably won’t last longer than 5 minutes, but, eventually you’ll be able to relax for a long time. This will help release toxins from your body as you spend time with yourself.
  3. Repeat over and over, “I am whole, perfect, powerful, loving, strong, financially successful, harmonious, happy and healthy.” This impresses your soul like a Tibetan prayer wheel.
  4. With this one, I know you will think I am a certified Wacko, but here goes . . .
    Hug yourself; do it often, while saying the words, “I love you.”

We are literally destroying ourselves, and consequently the world, with self-hatred. We spend most of our time searching for love. It escapes us, that we must love ourselves first. When we truly come from a place of self-love, our history will change. I can now say it, without reservation, “I love myself!” What about you?