Back when my second eldest was three years old (she’s 11 now), I lifted her out of the bath, wrapped her up all snuggly in a big, fluffy towel and cuddled her while we looked at each other in the hall mirror. “You are so beautiful honey”, I said. I wasn’t just talking about her appearance but her entire spirit. She looked into her own lovely brown eyes and they sparkled. She looked thoughtful. And then she said something that blew me away.

Mum, when you love yourself, that gives you more energy doesn’t it?

Wow. Did she really just say that?

“Yes honey. It really does”.

Hearing that she was beautiful, she accepted it fully. She didn’t feel weird or uncomfortable at having been given a compliment, like so many of us do. She heard those words, looked at her gorgeous three-year-old self and saw that those words rang true. She felt love for herself and I could see it on her face that her “energy” grew. And she felt it as well.

How do you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror? Do you see your beauty? Does your energy grow? Or does looking in the mirror cause your inner critic to step up to the mic to tell you all the things about yourself that just aren’t good enough? So many of us cannot look at ourselves in the mirror and say the words “I love you” or “I am beautiful” or “I am good enough” and really mean it. Some laugh and think it is stupid and others well up with tears, confused at how difficult it is to say. This lack of self love shows up in so many areas of our lives.

When  you don’t believe you are loveable, you end up projecting this belief onto others. Your inner critic is looking to prove that your belief, that you are unworthy in some way, is in fact true. It will use anything. “One forgotten phonecall and I’m deflated” sings Alanis Morissette. “Your hand pulls away and I’m devastated”. “My self-worth measured in text-back tempo”, a brilliant lyric from Imogen Heap. All examples of the same thing. Your inner critic has its “proof”and with it comes a sad sense of satisfaction that you were right all along about yourself. And it seeps into everything, like a dark, contorting filter that doesn’t let you see the truth.

Here are a couple of quite powerful exercises you can try and see how they feel:

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself some loving things. “I love you”. “You are beautiful”. “You are loving and loveable”. Yeah I know. It’s a little Disney. But just suspend that judgement and do it anyway. Note how it feels. Do you feel it to be true, like my little girl did? Or does it feel forced and false? Untrue? Difficult to say? You just might be onto something. Listen to the arguments your inner critic brings up as to why these statements can’t be true – these are the areas that need your love the most.
  1. The second step follows on from this. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and think of someone or something you love unconditionally. If you are a parent, your child is always a good choice to focus on. Think of their face, their smile, the sensation of holding them. Feel the love you have for them and see if you can feel it in a particular place in your body. For most it is around the heart centre / chest but see where it is for you. Focus on that love sensation in your body and let it grow. Then when you feel it very strongly….give that love to yourself. Imagine giving that love to yourself as a baby, a small child, a teenager, in your twenties all the way up to today, to the person you are right now. All that love is in you at all times and you can give it to yourself a thousand times a day if you like. Isn’t it time your inner critic had some competition? 😉

I’d love to hear your feedback on how you go with these exercises. Love Nat

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Lessons in self love from my three year old

2 thoughts on “Lessons in self love from my three year old

  • January 9, 2018 at 12:02 am

    Hi Nat! How are you?

    I just found this on fb as I have a little time to myself and it’s lovely to read your wise words.. you write so easily and with such description.

    I am really interested in your blogs as my Miss 13 year old is a huge worry wort and I feel as though it’s getting a bit out of control…
    She questions everything and worries about things that would never cross my mind!
    She grinds her teeth while sleeping….which makes me think she’s also worrying while asleep!
    I wish I could help to change her though process and stop the crazy rants that go on in her mind so that she can avert the unnecessary ‘freaking out’ process…

    I know it’s about rewiring the brain and thought process and pushing the worry aside but is there more to it than this??
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this- if you have time!
    Thanks Nat

    • January 11, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Caragh

      Thanks you for reaching out. Ah the teenage years. I think back to my own life and at the time, I thought I was completely fine. I didn’t know what all the teachers were going on about by saying it was “a really tricky period” but I now know just what they meant. My diary back then was full of my insecurities and worries. I wish I knew then what I know now or that someone had taught me the MINDStrain technique back in highschool.

      Stress is created by worry. Worry begins with one thought. One trigger can snowball into a full blown drama. The trick is to learn the ability to have what Professor Adrian Wells calls “detached mindfulness”. It is different to mindfulness in that it is all about realising that you are the watcher of your thoughts and then being able to have a bit of distance from them – not dissimilar to Buddhist meditation.

      So when a thought pops up (and it will… we have between 6000 and 9000 conscious thoughts a day!) instead of being carried away with it, we can choose to let it pass, just like a cloud in the sky. Or if you think of a sushi train, we can’t control what the sushi chef puts on the train, right? In the same way, we can’t choose which thoughts our subconscious mind is going to dish up to us. What can we choose? Which plate of sushi we take and eat, i.e. which thoughts we choose to grab on to and follow. Most of us don’t realise we have a choice here. We follow every thought quiet unconsciously, without even realising we have a choice. If you hated salmon, you wouldn’t choose a plate of California rolls to take back to your table, yet we do it with our thoughts all the time! Our thoughts are so close to us that they almost feel like perceptions… as close as seeing to hearing. So it is little wonder that we don’t feel we have any control over them. But with a little training, we can.

      I train my clients to do this with simple exercises that take no more than 6 minutes a day and they do rewire the brain. Clients report back that after practising the exercises for 14 days, the ability to let trigger-thoughts go, begins to happen automatically for them in daily life. They can be sitting in traffic, where it would usually be quite natural for them to be lost in thought (often worry thoughts) and instead be able to catch the first thought and “swipe” it to the left without grabbing on to it. It’s like being able to say, “No thanks. I know where that train goes and I don’t want to get on it”. You can then choose more positive thoughts and follow them.

      I believe this is an excellent method, and along with that I also believe that self love is very powerful. So often we worsen our situation by criticising ourselves for not being at our best. For example: Nina is feeling insecure and worries whether her friends really like her. She starts to think of all the reasons why she is unlovable and sinks even deeper into her insecurity and before you know it she is panicky and in tears. Compounding this further, she judges herself as hopeless and weak for being so sad and full of anxiety and before you know it, the whole thing, which started as a niggling insecurity, has snowballed beyond recognition. If when that first thought had come, she could find the wise loving place within herself and turn to that, if that part of her could say, “Nina, I love you for being insecure. I love you because you think you aren’t loveable” then that fear would have been transmuted… it sounds new-agey but I’ve seen it work wonders. Accepting the parts of ourselves that we think are unlovable, they lose their hold on us and we become whole again.

      I’d be happy to set up a Skype session with your lovely daughter. Just send me a mail via the website.

      Love Natalie


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