Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Do you love yourself? A large majority of people don’t! They may love some of their attributes—the body they worked hard to develop in the gym, success at work, finding someone who’s considered a “catch” to marry, etc. Most self-empowerment books emphasize the importance of loving yourself. While it’s a wonderful concept, putting it into practice is tough!

We want to think we love ourselves. It seems like the right thing to do. Yet I encounter folks all the time who say they love themselves, but their actions prove otherwise. It isn’t loving to:

* Do more to make other people happy than you do for YOU.

* Talk about what’s wrong with you.

* Forget to take supplements you know you need to be healthy.

* Refuse to accept compliments or gratitude when you help someone.

* Stay in a relationship with someone who treats you poorly and ignores your needs.

When I was a DoorMat, my real friends encouraged me to love myself. They hated all the ways I did so much for people at my own expense, while getting little or nothing in return. Especially with men! My self-esteem was in the toilet. I saw self-love as impossible. I wanted it but didn’t know how to change course and put the love on me instead of on those who sucked me dry.

As I struggled to get stronger, I realized that the best way to develop more self-love was to treat myself more lovingly. Do more nice things for me. Be kinder in how I viewed my appearance.

The kinder I was, the more focus I had on me. The more focusing on me made me feel good, the more I focused on me. Being kind to you is a synergistic cycle that makes you more empowered, and happy. When I splurged on expensive face cream, it reinforced that I was worth it. People began to notice how much I love me. They ask how they can get to that same place. It takes serious consciousness-raising. That’s why I wrote my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways.

I gave the book proposal to my agent right before my Mom died suddenly from an accident. He loved it! After Mom’s funeral, I thought about how blessed I am to have been able to reinvent myself as I did. The biggest blessing is the intense self-love I’ve developed by consciously being very kind to me. I got a spiritual message that I had to help others and told my agent not to sell the book. It’s now finished, and I plan to give it away in colleges, shelters, etc. I want to help others learn to love themselves the way I did. the book is done and I’m waiting for God to show me where to get sponsorship, I know I’ll get it when the time is right.

FACT: The greatest gift you can give to yourself is yourself!

Do you like gifts? Who doesn’t? You all have the ability to give yourself the most special gift—YOURSELF! It’s a gift that can only come from you. This unique, cherished blessing can be yours now!

The greatest gift! Living as a person you’d like to be instead of in the image of others makes the gift most precious.
The greatest gift! A best friend—yourself—a gift that lasts a lifetime.
The greatest gift! Unconditional self-love creates unlimited possibilities.
The greatest gift! The key to satisfaction is in owning the power to control what happens in your life.

Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Think about how you treat lovers. What loving things have you done for them? When we’re hot for someone, we work to please, often with less concern for our own needs. For years I catered to any man who’d be with me. Oh please, let me keep him happy so he won’t leave! There was little for me, but I was too busy trying to please to care.

If you don’t treat yourself as well as you do others, start right now! In honor of Valentine’s Day begin to do loving things for YOU!

Until you make yourself the most important person in your life, you won’t develop the most rewarding love. Self-love nurtures self-empowerment. I remember the joy of feeling more control, as I began to show myself love. So sweet! I want you to experience that. To taste it. Try! Once you love your inner spirit, the outside stuff comes. I don’t love my cellulite and I’d love to be younger but I love me. Even when my hair frizzes or I goof up, I love me. Since I love me, not my hair or body, flaws no longer diminish the delicious, warm self-love that makes me take care of myself in ways no one else would.

Having been on both sides, I know that being consistently self-loving is the only way to truly nurture happiness. Withholding self-love when I’m not perfect hurts me, so I try not to do that anymore. It makes sense to lavish yourself with what you benefit from the most. So lavish now! You’re a unique individual, which makes you special!

FACT: If you want love from others, love yourself first.

We often give love to others first. That’s backwards! Why give oodles away and neglect yourself? If this is your pattern, don’t worry. It’s okay to not love yourself yet. You can make it a habit, IF you want to, by doing loving things for YOU. Being consciously self-loving puts a focus on YOU and fuels self-love.

Do you think strong self-love is out of your reach? I did, when I felt too fat to love. In the mirror, I only saw what I thought of as my flubber dubbery body and unruly hair. I pleased everyone but me and stayed married since I was sure I’d be alone for the rest of my life if I became single —tantamount to death. Then I went to a Mary Kay cosmetics party and was picked as the model. The rep whispered that she chose me because of my beautiful skin and eyes. I bought some makeup and wore it to school the next day.

Kids can be the cruelest critics for their honesty. They tell it like it is. Yet many noticed my makeup and said I looked prettier than usual. Prettier? “Yes Mrs. Schwartz, you’re always pretty but today you look even prettier.

My eyes opened a little to my good qualities. Little by little it sunk in that I wasn’t worthless. Treating me more lovingly helped me see myself in a better light, which made me want to do more for me. Self-love is addictive. I was at the bottom, willing to settle for crumbs of happiness; operating from fear. I know what an empowering miracle it is to fall in love with yourself. Do whatever you can to court yourself. If I could do it, anyone can! People from way back don’t recognize me. They ask if I’ve found the fountain of youth. No, I’ve found happiness in me. I say thanks every day for the blessing of learning how to love me.

As my self-love grew, my DoorMat tendencies faded as I became important. I was no longer like a robot trying to get through life without hurting. I knew who I was and loved that person! You’ll become more empower
ed in a variety of directions once you adopt some better new habits.
I’ll go into them in more details in other posts. For now, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some tips you can begin with:

Be vigilant about your thoughts. Negative ones manifest negative experiences. Keep yours positive and enjoy more goodies!
Put your hand on your heart and force a smile. It will eventually feel real if you keep doing it.
Live in the present. Now is all that matters. Consciously drop thoughts about what happened in the past because it’s over and can only hurt you if you choose to allow it to. Stop worrying about the future because it’s not here yet.
Take responsibility for your choices and how people treat you. No one can hurt you or take advantage unless you allow it.
Stop complaining and trying to change others to your way of thinking. Change your response to what you don’t like and people will get the message.
Treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Getting treated well begins with how you treat others.
Treat yourself as lovingly as possible. All the time! The more love you give, the easier it is for your self-esteem to improve.

Whether you have a romantic partner or are flying solo, find ways to honor YOURSELF on Valentine’s Day! Do something special that’s just for you. As the kindness you show yourself increases, you’ll understand why the greatest gift you can give you is YOU!

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