Let’s start with some rhetorical questions:
1) If you’re a parent, what kind of life do you believe your children deserve? How do you show them how much you value them?
Most loving parents desperately want their children to be happy, healthy and fulfilled, and do their utmost to make that happen. When they are little, we try to ensure they eat a good, healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. We cuddle them and read to them and play with them; we kiss it better when it hurts and we keep them safe while also giving them room to learn about risks and danger in a healthy way. As they get older, we gradually step back until they have enough space to stretch their wings and fly safely from the nest.
And as parents we know that Philip Larkin was right – despite all of our best intentions we still manage to get some stuff wrong and there will always be things that our children will hold against us. But if we’ve done our very best, our children will be secure in the knowledge that we value them above all else.
2) If you have a partner, what kind of life do you believe they deserve, and how do you show them how much you value them?
I believe that loving partners want only the best for each other. It’s easy for that basic want to get lost in amongst the dishwashing, laundry, last-minute business trips and school holidays that make up family life, but a loving couple will still find the time somehow to look out for each other and do whatever they can to show each other they care. In my marriage, one of the ways this manifests itself is in my lovely husband bringing me tea and breakfast in bed every morning without fail (unless he’s too ill to get up, which is very rare). It’s only a little thing, but every morning I wake up to a reminder of how loved and valued I am – and that’s not a little thing at all.
Now here comes the killer question: What kind of life do you think you deserve? And how do you show yourself how much you value yourself?
Do you make sure that you’re happy, healthy and fulfilled? Or do your needs come at the bottom of the list, only to be tended to when you’ve made sure everyone else is OK? I’m not advocating becoming selfish and putting yourself first at all times, but if you always put yourself last you’ll never have the energy or the time left to do yourself justice. Don’t you deserve to treat yourself to the same care and compassion you give to others?
What kind of messages do you send out about yourself? If you show the world that you don’t value yourself then the world will learn that you are of no value and treat you accordingly. So if your family see you always putting yourself last and not respecting yourself, then they will learn to do the same. If you make it clear that you think your feelings and opinions are worthless, then that’s what your children will learn about you – and what will they learn about themselves as a consequence?
What little things could you do, every day, to show yourself that you love and value yourself? Maybe a walk in the fresh air, with the sun on your face would do it for you. Maybe some quiet time to yourself doing exactly what you want. Here’s an idea:
Take a piece of paper and write on the top “If I were to live my life as if I really valued myself, I would…”
Now make a list of all the things you would do if that were true. Make it a list of positive things, so rather than saying “I would stop doing x”, say “I would start doing y”.
Once you’ve finished your list, pick 3 things on it that are easy to achieve and commit to incorporating them into your life – starting today. Next week pick 3 more and add them in. The week after that, pick 3 more and add them in, and so on.
In a month’s time, you’ll be living as if you really valued yourself – and you’ll be astonished by how easy it was and what a difference it’s made to you and those around you. I’d love to know how you get on…