Have you ever noticed that you crave love and kindness from external sources but you have a hard time giving yourself the same love? Or that you feel filled up when you get external validation from your work or your friends, but find it difficult to give yourself a gold star?
You’re not alone. So many of us have what I’ve started referring to as “seeking gold stars in all the wrong places” syndrome. Ok, I haven’t really started calling it that until just now, but it sounds very official, right?
Maybe you realize that you only feel joy when you get positive feedback from others. Or maybe you feel the pressure to please others to feel accepted and loved. Or maybe you are stuck in a pattern of fear of not making everyone around you happy.
What if you could feel – not just satisfied – but fulfilled – just for you? Because of you.
What if you could give yourself the love that you crave?
The acceptance? The kindness?
I get it. I’ve been a craver of validation for most of my life. Even when I thought that I was doing things “just for me” – a part of me still bloomed only when I received feedback from others. In fact, if left to my own devices – I’d feel all smiley and full of energy for a brief moment, but it would only take a few moments for me to start second-guessing. Had I said the right things? Had I done enough? What could I improve for next time?
I’d even crave constructive criticism because it gave me a feeling of “Wow, they respect me enough to help me improve in the future.”
Here is the question:
What does the future look like if you only allow yourself to feel filled up because of something or someone else?
How would the future look if you could be your own gold-star giver? Noticing the big and little moments that are within you? The ones that make your heart smile and even the ones that feel a little sticky.
What does it look like to give yourself love?
This is going to sound scary to some of you. But imagine for a moment that you could ground yourself with love, with acceptance, and with compassion to rekindle your own energy and intention. And that by doing that, even in small doses – you could amplify even more of what is inside you rather than needing external validation.
Still with me?
Here is the hard part.
It all starts with saying “I love you” to yourself. And actually meaning it.
Oh wait, did I forget to mention that this conversation is most powerful when you are looking at yourself in the mirror?
Yes. I’m suggesting you talk to yourself (maybe even in the third person) in the mirror.
Mirror? Why on earth would I want to talk to myself in the mirror? That sounds dreadful.
Yup, I get that too. It isn’t easy to start, but I’ll tell you that there is nothing quite like seeing yourself – or rather, your reflection – sitting in front of you.
Pretend for a moment that your best friend was standing in front of you. Or your child. How would you comfort them when they needed it? My hunch is that you’d be kind. You’d tell them you were proud of them – maybe even that you loved them. You’d listen to what they had to say and let them express their feelings.
So what if you could do that for yourself?
I started playing with talking to myself in the mirror after coming across a video that described Louise Hay’s Mirror Work process. Over time, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how I start or what is happening in my day – but taking the time to show up for myself with love and acceptance – and even forgiveness – always reveals a new layer of understanding.
It takes work but mirror work can be a formal or informal daily practice. I’ve made mirror work a daily practice. Some days it is quick – some simple “I love you, I really, really love you” when I brush my teeth or wash my face. Sometimes I practice when every time I pass by a mirror or reflective surface during the day. And on some days I take a seat and settle in for a longer session.
The bad news is that I never know exactly what is going to come up when I show up for myself with love and acceptance. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes though, it is harder. There are days I cry. And on those days, I am even more grateful – because wow. It is one thing to get a hug from a loved one or a friend, but being able to hug yourself with words of love and kindness – talk about giving yourself your own gold stars.
Speaking of hard. I decided that I wanted to record my mirror practice today. I wanted to be able to observe it as a way of deepening my understanding of the work. I didn’t realize that today was going to be one of those hard days for me. But as I reflected on the process afterward, I wanted to share it with you because showing up with love takes courage. And if I’m going to offer you this invitation, I figured it was only right that I showed up too.
Give yourself a dose of love with Mirror Work
Find a mirror. Grab a journal and a pen for a few moments of post-mirror reflection. And have tissues handy, just in case.
- Start by saying hello to yourself.
- Take 3 (or 6) really deep breaths. Fill up on the inhale, and release everything out on each exhale.
- Look into your eyes – and even if it comes out as a whisper – say the words “I love you.” to your reflection. I like to say, “I love you. I really, really love you” – but start with what feels right to you.
- Maybe you spend the next minute just looking at yourself and repeating “I love you” to yourself. Maybe you add things like “and I’m proud of you” or listing out the things that you see in yourself that you love. Do what feels right. There is no right or wrong to this as long as you are showing yourself love and kindness.
- When you are done, open your journal when you are done – and jot down what felt easy and what felt hard about the practice. Notice what feelings came up within your body. And thank yourself for showing up.
Try this practice for several days in a row. Notice what it feels like to give yourself this dose of love.
To let yourself receive love and acceptance from your heart.
Maybe even give yourself a real gold star.
Does this sound right but you’d like a bit of guidance to break your reliance on external validation to feel like you are enough? I’d love to talk to you about my See You. Be You. retreat and 3-month group coaching program or my 1:1 life coaching work. Schedule a complimentary 30-minute discovery call to explore what would be right for you.