“What we’re striving for in recovery is a loving relationship with ourselves so that we can have loving relationships with others.” Adapted from The Language of Letting Go
I believe that it’s impossible to really get along well with others, stand up for ourselves, deeply and intimately love a partner, and be truly happy to the core if we haven’t figured out how to really love ourselves.
Like all the other successes in recovery, falling in love with myself (not in the egotistical sense but in the deeply liking who I am sense) didn’t come easily. But that’s understandable. My actions, towards others and myself, were disgraceful. I did so many things that hurt me and those around me that it was hard to grasp the idea that I could actually like myself, let alone love me.
The Program showed me that I could become another type of man entirely. By changing the way I thought, spoke, and acted, I could become a good, loving man, and in the process change the way I felt about myself. It required huge shifts in my behaviors, and sincere requests each day from my Higher Power to help me overcome those defects of character that I acted on, prior to recovery.
I started speaking more kindly, and learning about my own boundaries of acceptability, both from myself and others. I began building self-esteem by taking esteem-able actions.
But I was a tough case. In order for me to overcome my dislike for all the past actions that had poisoned my life and my perception of self, I needed to work even harder than many others. I had to start watching—and changing—what I was saying to myself, because my mind was believing the words I spoke aloud.
Sentences that started with “I’m not…, I can’t…, I’ll never…, It’s no use…., I don’t deserve…,” blocked me from evolving into a new, great man, and inviting in all the abundance God had in store for me. I replaced them with “You deserve…, You will…, You can…, You are…”, and I began mandating the man, and the dreams, I had always longed for.
Today I look into the mirror, directly into my eyes, and smile. Then I say “I love you James!” Then I yell out “And I love my life!” And I mean it. But this love is conditional upon the maintenance of my (rigorous) spiritual program of action. If I slack off, it starts to go away quickly.
And so I’m diligent, consistent and determined to practice this new way of life with the conviction of a dying man. Because when I do that, everyday ILML!