Not too long ago in a high school not too far away...
Two girls reapply lipstick in a dusty bathroom mirror. "My nose is so ugly!" Molly says looking at her face. "Shut up, no it's not!" Trish tells her playfully. "Whatever, I hate it, I'm gonna get a nose job when I'm 16," Molly says looking at her face picturing her new smaller sniffer.
Trish pulls out her hairbrush and begins gliding it through her hair. "I like my hair, it's never frizzy, like ever." and she gives one final brush and waft of her hair before giving Molly a big smile. "Come on, we're gonna be late!" she says and they rush out of the restroom.
As they head into the halls Trish notices Molly's attitude change. "What's wrong?" she asks. "Nothing, I'm fine." Molly replies, but she's not.
How many times have you heard your friends complain about their bodies? A lot right? It seems pretty standard to insult ourselves; especially when someone throws a compliment our way.
I bet that if you pay someone a compliment, they'll immediately put themselves down.
"Your hair looks good today." would get a response of "Oh my God I didn't even style it, it looks awful!" or how about "Great job on that paper, I really liked it!" could get a reply of "What? No… it was nothing, took me like 20 minutes."
What would NOT be acceptable are these scenarios:
"Your hair looks good today Jane." with a response of "Oh, thank you, I thought so too this morning!" Or "Great job on that paper John, I really liked it!" with a reply of "I'm so glad you said that, I worked really hard on it and hoped someone would notice!"
Can you imagine paying someone a compliment and them agreeing with you? What would you think, that they're selfish, narcissistic, conceded? Would you feel offended by their clear outward display of self-love? These questions lead us back to our story from not so long ago.
Molly has no problem bad talking herself loud and proud in the girl's bathroom. Trish has no problem talking well of herself or others, and that's what caused the temperature change between the two girls. Molly is offended that her friend likes herself because Molly's afraid of what that means about her; it is to say that what offends Molly is also what she's afraid of.
If we asked Molly if she loved herself, what do you think her answer would be? What would yours be? How do you know if you love yourself?
Well, I've found that the best place to start is usually at the beginning, so ask yourself not only if you love yourself, but what that actually means to you. Don't just ask yourself once while you're reading this, that doesn't count. Ask yourself all throughout the day. "Do I love myself and what does that mean?"
Like me, you may find this exercise annoying or even frustrating. "What the hell do you mean 'do I love myself?!" You'll even feel a resistance to delve deeper. And that's how you know it is working. My Pastor used to say that if your butt felt glued to your chair then you better stand up 'cause the devil wants you down. So stand up. Love drives out fear.
It's a detoxing process and we gotta get the bad out before we can get the good stuff in. Keep asking yourself what self-love means to you and let it linger to work on your soul- because it will.
Then, for some Trish and Molly fun, ask others around you what they think of themselves and watch how easy it is for them to put themselves down. Where there is fear, love cannot exist; and equally true where love exists, fear can not. You'll see there's a lot more fear out there than you thought. But the good news is, once you master self-love, you can also give it away because of another fundamental truth: love begets love.
Linda Lavender writes articles to help folks with Auto Immune Disease, Depression, Anxiety and other health related illnesses.