The page was covered with circles of different sizes. I invited the girls to write in each circle something they liked about themselves. I suggested that some could be about their appearance, but some should be about other things. Talents could be included, as well as character traits.
Most girls got right to work, but one beautiful and outstanding girl stared at the paper in her lap, and then gave me a questioning look. "This doesn't feel right," she said. "This feels like bragging." She really looked uncomfortable. "We aren't supposed to..." Her voice trailed off, as if she wasn't sure how to finish the sentence.
I finished it for her "We aren't supposed to like ourselves?"I asked. "Is that what you're thinking?"
She nodded. She seemed embarassed.
The discussion that followed was exciting. Ideas were shared that gave her a new perspective on self-worth. We gave her permission to celebrate her strengths. We gave her permission to love herself.
Lots of us identify with Emily's (not her real name)question. "We aren't supposed to like ourselves, are we? Liking ourselves is not part of our culture. We think that people who like themselves are selfish and bratty. We think that people who like themselves are mean.
Honestly, I think we have it backwards. People who like themselves are free to reach out to others. They serve more. They love more. They worry less about appearances. People who like themselves have more compassion. They don't go around hurting others.
Bullies are not people who like themselves. Prisons are filled with people who don't like themselves. Drug abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, behavior disorders, and addictions take root in people who don't like themselves.
If we are supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we better like ourselves a lot.
Draw some circles on a piece of paper. It's easy. Grab some lids from things in your cupboard and start tracing. In each circle write something you like about yourself. Don't be embarassed. Nobody has to see it but you. It'll be our secret.
Isn't it time we starting loving ourselves?