Hi friends –
This past weekend, my 12-year-old niece, Ella, and my 8-year-old nephew, Joe, came over for a sleepover.
We had the best time – pancakes, snowy walks, puppy cuddles, and a number of heated discussions about screen time (keepin’ it real).
At one point, Ella was showing me this app where she could dance and the app would multiply her image to make it look like she had back-up dancers behind her, doing the same dance.
It was super cool and she was loving it. When she was watching the video she had made, I heard her laugh and say to herself, “Oh my gosh, I love myself.”
I quickly said, “Oh my gosh, Ella, you should love yourself! You are such an amazing girl – you are so fun to be around. I’m so glad you love yourself!”
On Valentines Day, there is a disproportionate amount of focus on romantic love. Everywhere we look, we see chocolate hearts, red roses, and mushy social media posts.
In recent years, more focus has been given to Galentines Day, celebrating the beauty of female friendship (thanks to Parks and Rec), which is a welcome expansion on the holiday.
But, as therapists, we know that the foundation of any successful relationship – romantic or platonic – is the love of self.
I suspect that most of us start out loving ourselves. However, as we navigate our way through school-age friendships, the confusion of adolescence, and relationship conflict, doubts creep in. We often begin to question our innate worth, value, and wholeness.
When I heard Ella say that she loved herself, my immediate thought was, “Oh! How do I help her never lose that?!” I know that, realistically, she’s going to go through times where she doubts herself or when she looks for worth outside of herself. I certainly did.
However, I’ve observed an inflection point in self-love that seems to occur for many as they get older – it’s happening for me right now. I’ll turn 40 this year, and I’m beginning to feel myself move toward a deeper, fuller experience of contentment in who I am. I’m less reliant on how others feel about me, and I’m learning to listen to, and value, my own inner voice.
Perhaps, it’s a bit of a bell curve – a childhood, pure self-love that Ella conveyed so beautifully, that then journeys through periods of questioning and seeking to find oneself and that eventually (and hopefully) moves into a truer, authentic expression of love of self.
What do you think? Have you experienced this same journey (back) toward self-love? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you want to share.
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