Q: How can I learn to love myself more?
A: Regardless of the type mothering a woman actually received as a child, whether she ever knew her mother, or if her mother is still living or not, we must all learn to mother ourselves. I have an exercise for you to do which will begin a powerful process of you learning to love yourself more. Ready? It begins with a question.
When you were young, what would you like to have heard from your mother which you did not?
It may help to write out your thoughts or to share with a friend. Several things may come to mind. Write or speak as if your mother is talking to you, saying the things you wish she had told you. Now, choose one statement that would mean the most to you to hear her say.
For this exercise to be valuable the reality of your childhood does not matter. You may have had a mother who was shy, distant, thoughtless, cruel, absent, or even a person you never knew. It does not matter if your mother would never have said this to you.
Next step: Think of something that occurs periodically during your day. It could be when you press the garage door opener, when you get the mail, when you put something into the dishwasher, when you twist the ring on your ﬁnger.
Now: Each time you do the action you have chosen, remember “motherʼs words” and say them to yourself. You are linking this thought, this loving statement, to an event you will do over and over.
I have a squeaky board in my kitchen in front of my sink. I hear it every time I step there. I have decided that will be a reminder, a prompt, to say my “motherʼs words” to myself. “Thelma Lee, you are such a sweetheart.”
Take your idea of what the best mother would be and begin to behave that way toward yourself. Repeating your “motherʼs words” to yourself, the words that you, as a loving mother to yourself, want to say, will help you remember how truly lovable you are.
Q: How can I silence my inner critic?
A: Ignore bad behavior. Thinking of your inner critic as a person who has really bad
manners may help you to ignore what is being said.
You are going about your day… making a decision, writing a book, feeding your child, calling a friend, ﬂirting with your lover, cleaning your house … when you become aware that “someone” has intruded into your life. This “someone” is the critic who, somehow, thinks that he or she knows better than you about what you are doing. Ignore them.
And when ignoring them doesnʼt work? They still wonʼt be quiet or go away? Try acknowledging them, even telling them they may have a good point. Whatever they are saying may be valid. BUT…they will need to talk with you later…you are working on something else right now. Then, go right ahead with what you were doing before that rude interruption.
Over time, the critics may learn that you are not interested in what they have to say and will quiet down. In the meantime, when they do continue to interfere, if you will demand that they hold their thoughts until later, at least you will be able to continue on with the important things you are doing in that moment: making a decision, writing a book, feeding your child ….
Q: What is an easy daily practice I can do to take care of myself?
A: The key word is “practice”. The dictionary shows that it is both a noun and a verb. In order to have a practice (n.) your must practice (v.) From those grammar classes you recall that verbs are action words. So, taking care of yourself is about taking action — even if the action is to sit down on the couch or take a nap. The ﬁrst step in deciding what action you will take (what you want to practice) is to determine what you need more of in your life.
To one woman taking better care of herself may be exercising. To another it may mean taking time for a healthy lunch. Someone else may need to sit in silence for 30 minutes every day. All of these things are important, but each of us must determine what is most important for us.
Once you have made that decision, the next steps are very concrete and practical. When are you going to do it? What roadblocks must be removed so you can do it? What do you need in order to do it? Then, just do it.
After you have practiced and practiced and practiced…then you have a practice, a routine, something you do to take care of yourself.