It's not your job to like me - it's mine. ~ Byron Katie

Not long ago, a friend of mine said something to me on Facebook that surprised me. In a Mother's Day greeting on my timeline, she wrote: You have taught me so much, but I am forever grateful that you taught me the art of loving MYSELF! 

I couldn't remember ever setting out to teach her that, so her words caused me to reflect and ponder how exactly I was I able to do that. I have thought about it a little bit every day since.

She can correct me if I'm wrong, but here's what I have concluded. I think all I really did was love her and convince her that she was easy for me to love. My love helped to challenge her negative self-image, which was rooted in the rejection and disapproval of those who had not loved her well.

I think most of us have experienced rejection and the disapproval of others. When people close to us seem to disapprove of who we are, or find our personality traits unacceptable or offensive, this can result in our feeling unlovable. We may have expended a lot of emotion trying to win these people over and have them see the heart underneath the traits they find objectionable. Sometimes that effort is never acknowledged or noticed, let alone responded to in a positive way. We then feel defeated or at least deflated.

For many years of my life, I turned these disappointments inward. I believed I was hard to love, which I've shared on my blog previously and in my book. But I no longer see myself this way. And the reason I don't is that I've stopped focusing on the people who don't like me. That's why I loved the quote in my subject line so much when I read it.

I don't think we can teach anyone to love or like themselves. But I think we can help others to feel lovable by loving them well and unconditionally. I've been blessed with so many friends and so much love in recent years that my self-image has gone through a transformation. And I hope I have been able to do that for someone else simply by loving and embracing them with my whole heart.

We never know how much of a difference we may be making in someone else's life simply by opening our hearts and our arms in love and acceptance. The most convincing evidence of our love for God is His love flowing through us to others.


Bonnie said…
Oh, Shari...this is another good topic you've hit on. I've discussed this very thing with our daughter (19) recently after she shared an experience with me...although my words to her were: "What other people think of you is none of your business." Obviously, on the face of things, we *do* care but for those of us who are thoughtful and sensitive to others, sometimes even random people's opinions can carry a little too much weight. I'm hoping my words really resonate with her as she walks through her college years and learns more and more about the world and all kinds of people around her. The bible tells us to "guard our hearts and minds." Good advice from the Good Book!

Re your comment on previous post, have you thought about working in the kitchen using a stool as much as possible? You can gather what you need and work while sitting. I did that in '09 when I had chemotherapy.
Shari said…
Bonnie, the stool suggestion was made to me on Facebook and I hadn't even thought about it. But Dr. Yu said the only consequence of being on my feet too much will be swelling and soreness. I can't do damage. And I should have less and less of the consequences as time goes on.

I saw another quote I really liked on the topic of this blog post. You might want to pass it on to your daughter. It said "The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them." I see that growth in my own life (finally!).

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