Art by Stephen Cade
I grew up with parents who loved me unconditionally. However, I can’t say that they approve of me or my actions unconditionally.
When I was in high school I didn’t give a flying fuck about their approval. I knew they loved me, but they were really strict. I rebelled as hard as I could. I always approved of myself because I was having, pursuing and being fun.
Once I made it through a couple rough years of undergrad, I started wanting to get along with my parents better. It was great, but I realize now I started approving of my desires and actions less and less. I was using their approval scale–grades, weight, job. In high school I didn’t care about those things at all.
I’ve been practicing self love using mantras like, “Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are,” and it’s felt a little off. Deep down, I know I love myself. I think I’m pretty great, and when I step back to watch the story of my life, I think it’s a pretty cool story. I do love myself.
But then I read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. The first affirmation she suggests using is “I approve of myself.” I didn’t quite get it until this morning, when I heard myself thinking, “I just want some approval!”
Immediately I started saying “I approve of myself” over and over. I began to feel better and better. When I said, “Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are,” I felt guilty. Like, “I love you and accept you even though you are bad in the following ways.” But when I say, “I approve of myself,” I feel like I own my desires and am proud of myself. “I love myself the way I am” feels like I am flawed. “I approve of myself” feels like I’m kicking ass and don’t need anyone else’s approval.
What is your approval-to-love ratio? Do you find yourself feeling fundamentally unloved, or just needing a little approval? Give “I approve of myself” a shot and see if it makes more sense than focusing on the notion of self love.
Although it’s fun to create consciously with worksheets and manifestation exercises and gratitude lists, we have to remember the core of what life is all about: love.
I was feeling depressed and had no idea why. I filled out one of our (as of yet unreleased) “Ask the Universe Anything” worksheets. The premise is that you ask a question and listen to your intuition for the answer. I asked, “How can I love myself more?” The answer was, “Relax.”
I laid down in bed and reached for a book. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay was on top. I flipped through the intro and got to the meat: all problems come down to not loving the self.
Oh yeah! Self love is all that really matters, and it’s what solves all the problems in the world. Your world is a reflection of you. You ARE your world. If you love yourself, you love your world and the world loves you back.
Building on yesterday’s mantra of “I am who I am,” today I’m using Louise’s mantra: “Jessica, I love and accept you exactly the way you are.” Within moments of saying the sentence to myself, I was in tears. I realized how much I’ve been criticizing myself lately.
I meditated on the mantra for 15 minutes then bounced out of bed. I love and accept myself exactly the way I am! Life is fun again!
I started writing this guide as a way to capture the little positivity techniques that help me enjoy life more each day. Today I came across the idea of “I Am Who I Am” while writing, and it just stuck. It’s been the most calming mantra I’ve ever found.
This is a really good one for “being at peace with what is.” Someone snubbed you at the gym? I am who I am. Want to eat a block of cheese for dinner? I am who I am. Have a pain in your body? I am who I am. Feel a prickle of financial stress? I am who I am.
“I am who I am” is a state of total surrender and acceptance of oneself and one’s reality. It’s a resistance-free and worry-free approach to life. “I am who I am” is a way to unconditionally love yourself, no matter what you want or what you’ve done. “I am who I am” and that’s all. There’s no other thing to be.