24 February, 2020

No Kidding 2020 Project: Day 5 - Love

Growing up, the idea that you might love or even like yourself was anathema to me, and I suspect most New Zealanders my age. We didn’t think about ourselves in that way – we were taught to focus outwards, not inwards. In some ways that is helpful, but in so many ways it is not. So when I first experienced loss, I didn’t know how to feel compassion for myself. 

But what I read, and who I talked to (mainly online), always came up with the same message. Be kind to yourself, be compassionate, love yourself. I never really got it, as instantly – when I would think about loving myself or showing compassion – my inner dialogue would counter with a long list of why I didn’t deserve love or compassion. Sound familiar? Too many of us do that. Just this last week, in a different blogging project, a friend wrote her “Things I like about myself” post which was really a litany of what she didn’t like about herself.

But then, in a book a friend recommended, there was a simple exercise about how to love yourself, and how to show compassion. It didn’t mean you had to love everything about yourself, or even like it or approve of it. But it did mean that you were worthy of love and understanding. I’ve written about it before here (in the Gifts of Infertility series), but I’ll repeat it because I think it is useful.

When we’re grieving, or angry, or simply feeling down, we should try not to self-recriminate. Instead, imagine that grieving, ranting, or sobbing person as the child we once were, clearly in pain, clearly needing love and understanding. Who better to understand them but us? Embrace the child, send all the love and understanding we can, because their pain is our pain. Let them know that pain is heard with empathy, it is understood, and they are loved nonetheless. I’ve done this exercise, and it always helps when I’m in pain. Sometimes years go by without needing it, then something pops up, and I remember how important it is to just express and feel that love.

Ultimately, isn’t this also how we would react to someone we loved who was in pain? Wouldn’t we would hold them, comfort them, listen to them, love them? Don’t we deserve the same compassion? Yes. Yes. Yes.

It makes life easier. It helps us begin to change what we don't like, or to accept what we can't change. It makes us better people too, more able to exercise compassion and extend love towards others. But it all starts with loving ourselves.


  1. I love this idea, to give comfort, forgiveness, love and compassion to ourselves. I feel like it's the upper limit to what we can give others, so it is worthwhile to work on.

  2. Such a great reminder, as it's often so much easier to give compassion and kindness to others than to yourself. Being kind to myself is something I have to actively practice, as my inner voice is that 7th grade mean girl. But I love the idea of imagining the hurt child and comforting her.