I’ve had enough therapy and counseling over the years to know that true validation comes from within. Yes, you need to love yourself if you want to be loved by others. I believe that’s true, but it’s also much easier said than done. I’m a much better listener with my family and friends than I am with myself. In fact, I’m very dismissive when it comes to me. My friends and I talk about this all of the time…if we only talked to ourselves the way we talk to each other, we’d be full of love and admiration for that person in the mirror.
The other day, my smart and funny BFF Beth said “Imagine if you talked to your daughter the way you talk to yourself”.
It felt like a punch in the gut.
It took me a minute to recover from that insightful little gem. I think my daughter Presley is one of the most amazing humans on this planet (says mom). When I start thinking about all of the things I love and admire about her, it’s hard to admit that we just might have a few of those things in common. We’re both kind and loving. Those are easy to say. I also think she’s smart, thoughtful, beautiful, strong, driven, independent, self-motivated, courageous, athletic and funny. Those characteristics feel so much harder to see or admit about ourselves. It feels conceited and egotistical to even think about them. I know I have some good qualities. I know I’m loved and respected, but why is it easier to believe that people think positively of us because they don’t REALLY know us.
If I were talking to myself as if I were my daughter, I might say things like:
“I’m proud of you for all you’ve accomplished and your ability to overcome some big life challenges.”
“I’m inspired by the loving relationships you’ve built and nurtured with your husband, your kids and your friends.”
“I love how you surround yourself with truly wonderful, caring friends.”
“You have built a successful business and have a great professional reputation.”
“You’ve done a lot to care for your parents and brother.”
“I’m impressed that you’ve been able to weave some of your interests into a fun and fulfilling lifestyle.”
“You do a really good job taking care of your physical and emotional health.”
“I love your drive, motivation and positivity.”
“You make others feel heard, loved and appreciated and that’s a gift.”
Okay, now my stomach hurts and my breathing is wonky. Why is that so painful and embarrassing? Still, it softened my heart just a little.
I challenge you to try this. What would you say to yourself if you were your own daughter, son, best friend, or other loved one? Write it down.
Once you’ve conquered this uncomfortable challenge, take another step and try to start believing the good things others say about you. While their validation shouldn’t be the only thing that makes you feel good about yourself, soak it in and appreciate every last drop of love and admiration they offer. My son Owen recently wrote a song for me for Mother’s Day. It’s one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received and I’ve listened to it about 100 times. It humbles me and makes me feel so loved and appreciated. He too is an amazing person. One of the kindest, most sensitive, creative and compassionate people I know (says mom again!). He is also not the type of person to say something he doesn’t really mean. So I’m holding his gift close to my heart as a reminder of how he sees me. I’m also working harder to offer myself a little more grace and appreciation. I hope you try this. Make that list of things you might say to yourself. Write them down and look back at them when you need to.
Take good care and remember to mind your mind…every day.
Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.