Perhaps you’ve seen this hilarious youtube video, Jessica’s Daily Affirmation? If not, treat yourself and be inspired–or if so, watch it again.
Like Jessica, we simply ooze with self-confidence and self-love when we’re small. Last weekend, attending a family wedding, the biggest source of entertainment (after the bride, of course) was the new baby in attendance. Finley’s a charmer, seven months old, gladly beaming and flirting as long as he’s on his sweet momma’s lap. He was truly the center of attention, having as many as ten adults at a time oohing and gooing at him, working to evoke his seductive smile. Making him happy just made us happy.
Smiling babies, after exercise, might just be the quickest route to increasing endorphins–at least when we’re not their primary caretakers and can hand them back. It’s easy to see how kids transfer that love and focus of adult attention into Jessica’s ability to affirm herself.
Then something mysterious happens; the balance shifts. Our parents don’t want us to be spoiled brats, to monopolize the room endlessly, to turn into narcissists who brag. We internalize the idea that nice girls are humble, deny compliments, mutter “oh, this old thing?” about our dresses. Too often we exclaim “this hair?” when we might do better to laud our tresses, as does Jessica of the flowing golden ringlets.
This idea of narcissism as negative is largely an idea of Western culture. I’ve just completed a week long training/retreat on mindfulness meditation, and came away with several key reminders about narcissism. It’s a character flaw only when taken to excess. In typical all or nothing thinking, however, women in particular view self-love as negative, rather than realizing that a healthy dose makes us feel good. In cognitive behavior therapy, the school of thought that most guides my clinical work, the related concept is self-efficacy. Jessica’s statement of self-efficacy is “I can do anything good!” Finally, in Buddhist psychology and related Eastern philosophies, narcissism or self-love is central to feeling good. Simplistically, for the sake of brevity, we suffer when we don’t love and embrace ourselves fully rather than recognizing our infinite perfection as part of, one with, the perfect universe.
You don’t need to plow over others with your evidence of self-love–but at least shower it upon yourself. Stand in front of the mirror, chant your gifts, strengths and beauty. Daily. And don’t forget to underscore your sentiments with a resounding clap. Yeah, yeah, yeah!!!!!!