I Love You.

Via on Nov 10, 2011

“I love you.”

That’s what I have to say to myself in the mirror on a regular basis. It’s a technique for developing self esteem that my last therapist taught me and I think it is a powerful spiritual practice as well.

I hated myself for years and years. Internalized homophobia it’s called. It was painful. I dulled the pain with barrels of booze and truckloads of drugs but even that wasn’t enough. What I really wanted was to kill myself. Even after I began the process of coming out that self loathing was still very strong within me.

But the self hatred was just a way of thinking and like all habits I found it could be broken and replaced with new ones.

I will never forget the first day I started the “I Love You” practice. It was really awkward. I felt like someone was pressing their ear up to the bathroom door, listening to me whisper to myself.

“That’s it, I’ve really lost it,” I thought.

But it didn’t take too long to stop worrying if I was crazy or not. After awhile it even started to feel so good that it wouldn’t have mattered if there were a thousand people on the other side of that door pointing their fingers and laughing hysterically.

I did this practice almost everyday for three months. What was the result? For the first time in my life I started to actually like myself.  I eased up on the old habits of critizing my every thought and action. Eventually, I learned how to be my own best friend and to enjoy my own company.

I know, this all sounds terribly self centered, narcissistic even. But it’s not. As I found a sense of ease within myself, I found I was better able to pay attention to the needs and wants of all the people around me. I didn’t become suddenly perfect and saintly; when push came to shove my needs were still number one. But I think that’s where I began to open up to the idea that other people were at least (almost) as important as I was.

Today I still do the “I Love You” practice from time to time. I should probably do it more. Yesterday I caught the old self rising up, criticizing too much, trying to reassert control. Old habits can be changed. It just takes a long time.

You can try this practice for yourself if you like. You don’t even have to be a recovering addict or anything like that. It’s just a nice thing to do for yourself, probably better than treating yourself to ice cream or a massage.

Go ahead. Look into the mirror today. Look yourself right in the eyes. Be kind to yourself and say it like you mean it: I Love You!

I promise you deserve it.

About Chris Lemig

Chris Lemig isn't afraid of the dark. He dreams in full color and lives out loud. Sometimes, when he sees that your heart is broken, his heart breaks, too. But then he puts all the pieces back together and lets out a great, guffawing laugh that shakes the world to its bones. He loves you even though he's never met you and he wants you to know that you are brighter than the brightest guiding star. He is the author of The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming Out, Getting Clean and Finding Buddha.

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12 Responses to “I Love You.”

  1. Naomi Levine Naomi Levine says:

    I love you for writing that and being true to yourself.

  2. This is beautiful, Chris, and such an important reminder! Thanks for writing it!

  3. Eric says:

    thanks Chris, often in the recovery community there is simply too much negativity, criticism, (of self and others) and inability to let go. of course: "we do not dwell in the past nor do we wish to shut the door on it.." ~ it's about balance and harmony. loving ourselves–TRULY–means to focus on our spiritual path, and thus, sobriety.

    for 'Me', I have the Dharma to keep 'me' not so much into 'Me'.

    • Chris Lemig Chris Lemig says:

      Yes, Eric, I agree that the balance is so important. We can't forget how we were but at the same time we can rejoice that we have changed. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

  4. Helene Rose Helene Rose says:

    love this! shared it on my facebook wall. :-)

  5. Posted to Elephant Main Facebook Page, my Facebook page, Twitter, & StumbleUpon.

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  6. I love love diarys and journals because they make me happy thinking about my lover and thinking about what he do to to me it just so lovly and fun but the bad part of it he’s my ex boyfriend.

  7. [...] is too early in this painful transition to look at myself in the mirror and love that girl. Besides, I am so frustrated with her [...]

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