So often when Valentine’s Day is approaching, we all start looking for signs of love outside of ourselves—chocolate, cards, phone calls, flowers, gifts or other sweet sentiments. The sad truth is that even if there is love all around us, if we don’t love ourselves, we may not notice it—nor believe or trust what we see.
When we feel empty, we tend to suck the energy from others in a desperate attempt to be filled. The problem is that love from someone else cannot fill a void created by our own sense of lack. Love is an inside job—and the cosmic irony is, in order to receive it, we have to already have it. So as Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, I invite you to look at your relationship with yourself.
When I went to my very first personal growth workshop, taught by Jack Canfield more than 20 years ago, he had us do an exercise that I will now pass on to you:
Close your eyes and imagine that you are looking into your own mirrored image. Look deeply into your own eyes and say to yourself, “I love you and accept you just the way you are.” Watch for the reaction in your mirrored image. Pay attention to how you feel saying and receiving this message of self-love.
What was your reaction to this exercise? Did it feel good? Did it feel uncomfortable? Were you willing to try it?
When I did as Jack instructed, I was greatly surprised. My mirrored image rolled her eyes at me and sarcastically said, “Yeah, sure you do.” Until that moment, I was unaware that I had a self-esteem issue. For some of you, doing this exercise might feel good. For others it will be undoubtedly painful, as it was for me the first time. In either case. In either case, your feelings are a blessing.
If it was painful, your gift is the knowledge that your self-esteem needs tending to, and you can now take great steps toward doing this. Once I was given this gift of self-discovery, I embraced the opportunity to do everything in my power to turn that reality around. I began studying, practicing, and applying self-esteem-enhancing techniques and philosophies, and eventually began teaching them so that I could help others as well. The gift of that uncomfortable and painful moment set me firmly on the path of my life’s purpose.
This Valentine’s Day, start doing the mirror exercise in a real mirror every morning and evening. Look into your own eyes, tell yourself what you like, love, admire, and appreciate about yourself, and end with telling yourself that you love yourself. While this may sound stupid to some of you, it is an amazingly powerful yet simple thing to do. We are so accustomed to looking in mirrors at everything superficial—our clothes, hair, complexion, or weight—and being critical of what we see. But few of us ever look into our own eyes with love. Continue this every day until the criticism gets replaced, and kindness becomes habitual.
Low self-esteem is not an attractive trait. When you venture out to meet new people or create stronger relationships with those you already know, feeling good about your strengths always puts you in a more powerful position. If you don’t like yourself, your words and energy will leak this truth to the people you are trying to attract, and can actually push them away or will attract those who want to control and manipulate you. As you practice acknowledging your strengths in the mirror, you will present yourself more positively to others, as well, and attract a healthier match.
As you look into your own eyes, you will come to know another aspect of yourself, beyond the physical being you normally view in the mirror. As the saying goes, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” When we talk to other people, if they do not establish eye contact, we often think that something is wrong or that they are lying to us. We don’t feel connected. However, seldom do we ever establish this kind of soul connection with ourselves. This is where healthier relationships begin.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Eve Eschner Hogan is a relationship specialist, and author of several books including The EROS Equation: A SOUL-ution for Relationships. In Real Love with Eve, she shares skills, principles, and tools for creating healthy, harmonious relationships—with friends, family, lovers, co-workers, and the world at large. Her uncommon approach to common sense will help you sail away from ego battles and into the calmer waters of real love. Learn more about Eve’s Heart Path retreats at sacredmauiretreats.com.