I recently led an all day retreat with some absolutely gorgeous women. The light in each one made the room glow, and the combined power of these amazing women made me sit back and realize just how much good we can do together when we pool our resources, connections, inspirations, and creativity. Yet there was also a shadow in the room. Many of the women there shared the deep hurt they feel towards themselves—especially related to body image. I was left wondering: How can all this beauty and light come into the world if we are too busy hating ourselves?
It is hard to be a woman in this world where the invitation to self-hate is everywhere. There are some profound ways we keep elevating our vitriol, but not our compassion, love, and respect of one another. [And there are some profound ways we speak to our shared holiness (here), goodness (here), and beauty (here).] I came away from that day determined to further ways to connect us to the image of a loving Mother God and the image of ourselves as worthy and whole—just as we are, right this imperfect minute—as balms to the trends of photoshopped “beauty,” bullying, and self-hate.
Today I am inviting you to participate with me in this new undertaking: The Self-Love Letter Project.
The idea is simply that we need to write ourselves a love letter, so that on our worst days we can find our way back to center. All of our holy texts are full of messages of love, and they all call us to love one another, yet we all too easily hate ourselves and then push that hate out into the world. We may think that we reserve our worst for ourselves alone, but once the knife is in our hands to stab our own hearts with “You’re disgusting!” “You don’t deserve love!” or “You’re not good enough!” it can be very easy to turn that knife on another. This project is about giving us another “weapon”—a tool of loving kindness—so that when the negative self talk rears its ugly head, we are prepared.
This idea is born out of an amazing email a friend sent me last November on one of my absolutely worst days EVER. I was broken and broken hearted. And, I was taking all the things that I had no control over—namely our unethical adoption agency and their attacks—personally. I felt as if I failed, and I internalized their ugliness to fear that I must not “deserve” to be a mother. Crazy; right?
Of course, I can see now how I lost my way that day. Today is a happy day full of possibility and goodness and the sweetness of love in its various forms. And so was that day; I just could not see it because I was hurting, and scared, and despondent. There are many gurus and teachers who will tell you that true spiritual and emotional maturity means that you are never hurt, scared, or in despair. I call bullshit! Instead, I think that we must endeavor to hold onto the image of our true selves on those very bad days—because we all have very bad days sometimes. My dear friend’s sweet email calling me into accountability by naming those places where I am worthy, good, kind, loving, and whole did just that for me. She also planted in me the idea that to write myself a love letter could be a panacea on the darkest night because I would have to look my true self in the mirror, and see her for all her glory.
But doing that letter…well that has been hard. I kept waiting for the magical day when I would feel it and believe it so fully that writing the letter would come easily. What I realized, however, was that day was never going to get here because perfect magical day does not exist. So, I reached out to my friends for help. I posted on Facebook a simple question: Would you tell me three words that describe me to you? I used these to seed my own love letter, which you will find below.
So beloved friend, will you join me and write yourself a love letter? Don’t wait or the perfect day and the perfect feelings towards yourself. That day will never arrive. Instead, write it today when you need it most. And remember, ask for help from those who love you. They will be happy to give it to you!
And if you are game and utterly brave, would you think of sharing it here on The Sophia Collective? We can change your name if you would like, or not—you decide. I think that if we read each other’s letters we will be more inspired to keep ours handy and at the ready. And that is the whole point: To love ourselves and be inspired and inspiring!
Read Jacqueline's beautiful letter here.