"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the universe deserve your love & affection."
- The Buddha
"Remember, you've been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked.
Try approving of yourself and see what happens."
- Louise Hay
I shared with my students this week a love story inspired by my son when he was 3 years of age. The story goes like this. My little guy was afraid of the water, he did not like the feeling of water on his face (be it bath water or raindrops), and wouldn't dunk his head in Tiny Tots One swimming lessons. This was a problem, so I thought, because in order to learn how to swim and pass Tiny Tots One, the child has to demonstrate the ability to fully submerge one's head! So on the eve of the final swim class (and last opportunity to slam dunk the dunk) while my boy was sitting in his birdie bath (water waist high only please), I decided to apply a little bit of reverse psychology and take the pressure of this whole dunking thing. I said to him "you know I love you even if you don't do the dunk." He took in the words with a nod and an "okay" and then proceeded with his birdie bath. The big day arrived and while we were walking into the pool facility, my son asked me "mommy, can you tell my swim teacher that you love me even if I don't do the dunk?" Enter heart melting and paradigm shifting. So while standing at the edge of the pool with my son's hand in mine, I proclaimed out loud to the dear swim teacher that I love my son even if he doesn't do the dunk!
And what of the result? Did he do the dunk? With all his little might, he plunged and plunged trying to do the dunk, but those deep brown eyes stayed locked with mine and did not go under the water. After this epic experience, we took a 4 year hiatus from scheduled swimming lessons and in the process discovered the pleasure of swimming in Grandpa's pool and splashing around in lakes during summer vacations. My son is now 8 years old, loves the water, and has re-registered in swim lessons where he dunks delightfully.
Crossing this story over to our own inner life, how often do we hear the voice in our head coaching ourselves from unconditional love or critiquing from fear of inadequacy? Can we love ourselves fully even if we haven't "done the dunk?" Can we be enough in this moment while holding intentions & goals for the future? Is it possible to befriend ourselves now even when we've made mistakes in the past? Just noticing what kind of inner coach has taken centre stage is a white hot strategy for well-being. From that awareness, we then have the choice to hire or fire the coach! As Louise Hay & Robert Holden, PhD., would recommend, try saying these words to yourself and see what happens...
"I love you, I really really love you!"
Masters Level Clinical Counsellor (MA)