I brought my daughter back to Madison for her sophomore year.  I cried in the days leading up, I cried as we sang our lungs out on the car ride there and I cried when I had to leave.  Between my crying, I was shopping at Target more than I care to admit. One night, after leaving my daughter at her apartment for the night, I decided to make one last run to Target.

As I was in the line paying for yet another shower organizer, I heard a mom say to her teenage daughter, “That outfit [referencing the one they were buying] makes you look fat.” I literally felt like throwing up. I turned and saw the girl shrink and get red-faced.  Her mom, realizing she forgot something, quickly left to go get it, leaving the girl standing there alone.  You know I had to say something.  So, I turned to her and said, “If you love yourself that outfit will look amazing. I’m certain of it.”  She half-smiled, I nodded, I swiped my card for the 10,000 time and left.

Why do we teach our children so little about self-love?  We teach them about sex and drugs but not about loving their minds, bodies and their emotions.  In a world where we’ve been raised to put others first, self-love feels selfish.  We know we need it, yet we have difficulty giving ourselves permission to experience it.

Unfortunately, most of us become adults with almost no self-love skills. We feel stuck with the notion that we are the way we are and there’s no real changing to be done.

But I believe that we can learn to love ourselves and we can and should teach our children the same thing.  This is what I say to practice my self-love:

  1. You have needs. In order to love yourself, you need to recognize your needs. Without self-love, you’ll dismiss your needs while prioritizing the needs of others. Self-love is about identifying your needs and making them a priority.
  2. Set boundaries.  The more you love yourself, the less you’ll tolerate being treated like crap. Period.
  3. Don’t sabotage your great feelings by doing something destructive. When you love yourself, it’s easier to accept and allow good things in your life.
  4. Own your life. Learn from s*** and don’t be a victim. Life ownership is empowering.
  5. Give more. Research shows that giving to others strengthens the circuits in the brain that generates feelings of well-being, more than any other positive emotion practices. So, why not give more? Like every day?

I have no idea if what I said meant anything to that young girl.  But I believe that loving yourself is magical—it’s a divine relationship that will help you improve every single aspect of your life. I know it to be true. So, stop feeling guilty and learn to embrace having a loving relationship with You.  Teach your kids (young and old) the same thing. You (and they) deserve it!

Have a great week!