The Courage to Love Me

Photo by Dominique Allen
Create It Photography

In one way or another, last month, folks asked me to talk about myself. Inwardly I groaned.  It felt like being banished to the principal’s office in elementary school, or standing in front of the class giving an oral presentation, palms sweating profusely, my mind darting between interconnected thoughts. Really, you want me to talk about myself?

I was reared in a loving but fairly strict Christian home. Humility and its benefits were praised. My mother’s firm voice honed from years as an educator linger with me at times. “Do not say you are pretty, people will notice.  Do not say you are smart, let others.” Somewhere along my own path, I internalized those messages, and processed them in a way that silenced my spirit.  I heard the phrase, “never or rarely talk about your own virtues.”

How often do we hear the words self love, but how many of us are aware of its myriad complexities? Of course self love is not bound solely by words, but our words wield immense power. In Louise Hay’s classic work, You Can Heal Your Life, she discusses the importance of affirmations and exercises such as looking in the mirror and professing self love; cautioning us that it will feel strange initially. Still, we must begin and continue the work. Well, I did it once or twice and stopped. It felt narcissistic. Besides, I could hear my mother’s cautionary words against conceit and pride. 

Yet it was not until recently, when the topic of “me” came up again, along with the familiar perspiration and nervousness that I asked myself some serious questions. Do I really love me? Why am I mired in a humbleness which suffocates?  Am I hiding in humility? Weighty questions and statements I know, but without confronting them, I may never develop the courage to love me. Is this not one of the greatest contributions we can make to humanity? Often when you love you, you love others, hatred slowly disintegrates and peace emerges. 

Perhaps I’ll begin these affirmations again, head raised high, only my voice this time, imbued with the courage and determination to love me.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
 Psalm 139: 14

Emelda De Coteau
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