In 2008, a few days before my son was shipping out to Afghanistan, a friend of his killed himself in my son’s bedroom.
This young man stayed with us off-and-on, as his home life was turbulent. He called me “Ma,” and we’d had many conversations over dinner about his life and his struggles.
On Mother’s Day, he gave me a card telling me how much it meant to him to have a “second” mother. He thanked me for the unconditional love I shared with him. With my son thousands of miles away and about to face a treacherous journey, I was so grateful for this young man and his strong hug.
Two mornings later, at 6 a.m., I found him with a gun in hand, a bullet hole in his stomach, and his cold blood on the rug. I held his still body for an hour while I wept and wailed.
This many years later, I still cry to think of him. I still miss him. I still mourn his lost life. I will never “get over” his suicide.
I wrote last week about unconditional love. When we can give it, we bless others more than we’ll ever know. But when we have not had it ourselves—or we’ve had it but don’t believe it—then our lives are always going to less than they could be. As will our ability to love others.
My friends, we must not only love others unconditionally, but we must also love OURSELVES unconditionally.
That means accepting that we screw up, that we’re sometimes selfish, mean, lazy, or boring. Or that someone we love might not love us back. It means accepting ourselves for who we are RIGHT NOW and being grateful for our flawed selves THIS MOMENT.
I am always surprised at how often I hear people speak in an ugly fashion about themselves or to themselves. This message of unconditional love applies to all of us, whether we’re just being hard on ourselves or are feeling true despair.
There’s a rock ’n roll song by The Animals with the lines, “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good/Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!” We ache to be understood and loved.
Right NOW, you are worthy of unconditional love. You are worthy of loving yourself unconditionally. The journey to happiness, to peace of mind, and to honoring the life you’ve been given, begins with loving yourself.
You’ll need a stack of index cards or you can use the Build Happiness Today UnBlocks™ if you have them.
- Put your name on a card and set it aside.
- Use as many cards as you need to write the things you struggle with. Leave one side blank.
- Use at least two cards to write everything you like, respect, or appreciate about yourself. Only record your strengths. Only write on one side.
- If you can’t think of anything positive to say about yourself, write the following, which I know to be true because you are trying this exercise:
- Willing to change
Flip all the cards over but the one with your name on it.
On this side, on all the remaining cards, write these two sentences:
Bless me in my strengths. Bless me in my struggles.
Put the card with your name on it in the middle and make a circle around it with the other cards. Arrange the cards so the blessing sides are up.
Pray that you accept and love yourself as you are, and that others bless you with unconditional love as well. Pray for yourself to be blessed with strength, courage, health, wisdom, prosperity—anything you can think of to bless yourself with.
Pray that you will do what you can to bring out the best in yourself in thought, word, and deed. Pray that a circle of light and love lifts you up and sustains you.
Picture yourself standing in the center of this prayer, and the circle turning into real light. Imagine that you are literally glowing with happiness. Take five or more deep breaths while you hold this image in your mind. Breathe in serenity and love. As you breathe out, let go of worry and tension.
Accept yourself as you are right now, and treat yourself with warmth, respect, and love. Remember these moments of blessing yourself when you notice that you’re not treating yourself with love. It’s NEVER too late to embrace unconditional love for yourself.
You are growing. And you are already worth loving,
right here, right now, in this glorious state of imperfection.
“Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.” ~Lysa TerKeurst
Do me a favor–if you or anyone you know is considering suicide, please reach out for help or to help.
Please, share this issue and comment on it.
Marcy McDonald is the creator of the Happiness Builder Program. Today’s content was adapted from Build Happiness: Block-Based Exercises to Change Your Perspective and Change Your Life.