Episode 96: The Secret To Loving Yourself

For those of you who have been following the blog or listening to The Wife of an Alcoholic Podcast, I used to practice yoga on a pretty regular basis. It was a kind and loving thing I did for myself.

When I turned 40 I was tired of my exercise routine and I wanted something a lot more gentle and more reflective.

I started yoga and loved it. Then Hurricane Irma came. We evacuated our house and couldn’t return home for over a week, so my exercise routine dropped by the wayside.

Then I found myself in a really unfamiliar place.

I’m not a person who loves to exercise, so it’s not unusual for me to feel unmotivated to workout. That’s pretty normal. But I just couldn’t find the motivation to do anything.

I love to pray, and I no longer had the desire to pray. I love meditation, and I had no interest in that either. I’m a huge advocate of self-care, but I just could not bring myself to put it into daily practice.

I found myself in a really numbed out place. And I began to worry because that’s not like me. I’m very ambitious and driven. When I get up in the morning, I think, “Okay, what needs to be done? Let’s get through this to do list.”

I made an appointment with a therapist who I had met when I was the keynote speaker for The National Christian Counseling Association because I was so scared I had lost my drive and my desire for the things I loved. During my session, she said, “Michelle, you’re in the wilderness.”

She was right.

And the good news is that the wilderness is always temporary.

I didn’t know how long I would be feeling stuck in this spot where I was tired, unmotivated, and dull. I just wanted to be lazy, and sit on the couch for weeks on end. My creativity and my curiosity were gone. And this was a place I had never felt before.

It scared me, but I knew, based on the session with her, that my drive and passion would return. This was temporary. And I trusted this was right where I needed to be.

There were valuable lessons in the wilderness that I needed to discover in this period of my life.

During this time, I moved to Tampa and, very slowly, I started to get that desire back. I started to feel the little bit of light in me that became stronger and stronger with each day.

But I think the number one lesson I learned during my wilderness stage was something that was reiterated to me today when I was running (which is my new form of exercise).

There were women passing me that looked amazing, toned, and tanned. They were running for fun which is something I cannot understand on any level whatsoever.

While I was running, I can’t tell you how many times I looked at the app on my phone to see how many minutes I had left. I was suffering.

Suffering.

There is no podcast, no music, no specific running shoes that I could spend a bazillion dollars on that will make this more enjoyable for me.

This beautiful woman runs past me who’s probably 12-15 years older than I am. My running goal of 13 minutes had just ended (I told you I am new to running), and she whizzed by.

My first thought was, “Why can’t I be more like that? Why can’t I be more like her?” Then it hit me. And I changed my thinking by telling myself, “Michelle, you did well. You just ran 13 minutes in a row, and you didn’t stop. I’m proud of you.”

That loving, compassionate, soft whisper of a voice healed my soul in ways that I needed so badly.

And it brought me back to that time when I was in the wilderness.

The way I got out of the wilderness was by being gentle and kind to myself.

I talk a lot about this in the Love Over Addiction program and on The Wife of an Alcoholic Podcast because it works.

So today I want to ask you: what if you became your biggest fan?

I know a lot of us depend on the ones we love to make us feel good. We look for validation from other people or through our accomplishments.

My mom is married to one of the most wonderful men in the world. And I grew up around this man telling her how beautiful she was. He wrote her love letters and brought her flowers. He was so adoring.

You know what I heard my mom do, though? After he told her, “Peggy, you look so beautiful,” I heard my mom say, “No, I don’t. I look ridiculous. I’m dirty. I’ve just been working in the garden for hours. How could you say I’m beautiful?”

And I also have a friend whose husband’s love language is words of affirmation. If you’ve not read that book, I highly suggest it. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. My friend’s husband is fabulous at telling her these amazing lines that just blow me away. But I hear her dismiss it.

And the reason this happens is that having someone tell us all the things we crave to hear does not mean as much to us if we don’t already believe them about ourselves.

Today on my run, it was far more powerful to tell myself that I was doing a great job than it was for anybody else to tell me that.

It was so nurturing to be the soft whisper in my head that suggests I should be compassionate and loving to myself.

So let me ask you another question. What have you done that you’re proud of?

Today I ran for 13 minutes straight. What did you do? And do not tell me you haven’t done anything. I know you. I know that there are so many things you can list off that you are proud of.

I want you to take a moment and pause. And I want you to think about what you have done. It can be in the last week, the last six months, or the last year.

What have you done in your life that you are proud of?

Did you think of something?

What loving message do you need to tell yourself right now? This morning, I needed to tell myself that I was good enough. I needed to congratulate myself and celebrate the fact that I was making an effort. It might not be as good as everybody else around me, but I was trying.

I want you to pause, and I want you to be still. Just give yourself 60 seconds to think, and then tell yourself what you need to hear in your most loving and gentle voice.

Say it out loud. It can be a monologue, or it can be one sentence. But do it right now.

I am so proud of you for taking the time to practice loving yourself.

I promise you that if you are willing to whisper to yourself on a regular basis, all of the deliciously kind and sweet thoughts about you, you are going to be transformed and offer the loving, sweet thoughts to others. You will no longer be looking to everybody else for the acceptance that you need to give yourself.

The truth is the love you’re looking for, the one that’s healing, the one that’s going to replace all of the negativity that addiction brings into our life—that love needs to come from ourselves.

Women who are in sober relationships need to practice this too.

And if you are a woman of faith (not everybody is and that’s ok – there is no judgment and all are welcome, but if you are), then think of this as the Holy Spirit whispering to that deepest part of you the love that you know is being offered.

We are a movement of very powerful, amazing women who are willing to give a voice to this disease. We are willing to step up and help each other and encourage one another because strength grows in numbers, and we are growing, and we are strong.

So if you haven’t joined us yet, head over to TheLoveOverWay.com to learn more about the programs we have to offer.

Are you ready to take your healing to the next level?

Love Over Addiction is here for you.

Join thousands of women, just like you today.

Love Over Addiction is a private self-study recovery program just for women who love someone who drinks too much or suffers from substance use disorder.

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