There’s a scene in a movie called The Perks of Being a Wallflower, where a 15-year old boy named Charlie asks his English teacher for some advice about a female friend that he cares deeply about.
“Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?” he asks with sincerity.
The reply was what I consider the ‘making’ of the movie, as it’s so heartbreakingly honest: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
I wonder what would be possible if we were to teach little girls a perspective of self-love that went beyond spa days, dark chocolate treats, and bubble baths.
What if we were to…
Teach her to uncover and surrender the beliefs and behaviors that are out of integrity from what she says she wants.
Guide her to courageously take a regular look in the mirror to truly see what thoughts and identities have been guiding her most undesirable habits and patterns on auto-pilot.
Encourage her to listen to her stories and her repetitive language and be willing to do what it takes to rewrite and rewire in honor of making the most out of her precious existence.
Empower her to define and refine the character traits she’ll need to develop to move beyond her perceived limitations.
Enable her to bring her full self to the world and remember to always lead by example.
The scene in that movie ends with Charlie asking another thoughtful question: “Can we make them know they deserve more?”
His teachers reply, “We can try.”
Below is a ‘recipe’ for self-love—a sort of ode—to all the teachers who have taught me to savor the complexity of life’s palate, and most importantly, to know I deserve more.
Prep Time: an ongoing project
Cook Time: the rest of your precious life
Level of Difficulty: simple, yet not easy
Serving Size: 1
3 cups Willingness
1 cup Awareness
1/2 cup Discernment
2 Tbsp. Boundaries
1/2 tsp. Forgiveness
1/4 tsp. Zest of Appreciation
A Pinch of Patience
1-3 Trusted Friends for garnish
1. Willingness: to be human, first and foremost. This is about giving yourself permission to ‘get it wrong,’ because if you’re really going for the best self-love soup ever, you’ll make mistakes. The key is in the meaning you make about those experiences and how you deal with yourself and others in the process. A beautiful mantra you can use here is, “I make mistakes, but they help me love myself deeper.” This is true because there really are no failures, only feedback—only growth if you’re using willingness wisely. This ingredient holds within its core the seed of courage. That seed is the most essential nutrient, making this self-love soup wholesome and one you’ll come back to again and again.
2. Awareness: to the stories, patterns, habits, behaviors, and conditioning that are holding you back from bringing your full self to the world. Most of us are forcing our way through life with our ‘monkey mind’ feeding us scattered and limited perspectives and enticing our emotional states all over the place. This ingredient teaches us to focus, rather than force, and it gives us another mind to work with—the ‘monk mind.’ It is the elixir of presence and the stabilizing nature of this recipe.
3. Discernment: is the confident and compassionate sister to judgment. It is perception, wisdom, and guidance. It is built upon one’s principles and values, without the condemnation of others. This ingredient has a fierce flavor of inner strength and love that allows this recipe to make a stand for her needs and rise with grace and self-composure.
4. Boundaries: This ingredient is not a punishment or aggressive behavior, it’s clarity. It’s operating with agreements, rather than expectations. And it’s needed to fully absorb the ingredient above. Some people think they can make this recipe without including boundaries. They only find that they’re disappointed again and again because, without this ingredient, discernment alchemizes into resentment. This makes for a very different outcome with this recipe. There’s a magnet on my fridge that says it well: “Be kind and full of love, but have boundaries like a motherfucker.”
5. Forgiveness: This ingredient helps the digestion of the first ingredient, willingness (to be human and make mistakes). Without this element, your soup will become bitter and eventually act as a poison, rather than a nourishing medicine. Hawaiian culture is well aware of the power of this additive. So much so that they have turned it into a sacred offering, known as the ho’oponopono prayer. It is said when forgiveness of any nature is called for. It goes like this: “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” If this ingredient seems sour to you at first, I implore you to stick with it. In time, you will taste the sweetness that it offers.
6. Appreciation: It’s easy to notice what we don’t like about ourselves, others, and the world. However; the clever and heroic thing to practice is choosing to see what we do like. This is not about positive thinking or bypassing the truth that the world can be brutal. It’s about seeing both the brutality and the beauty. There is much research on the zest that developing “an attitude of gratitude” can bring to one’s life. And if we’re making self-love soup, then we couldn’t possibly leave this ingredient out, as science tells us it vibrates at the same frequency of love. Appreciation is in fact a very actionable thing we can practice to increase love in our being, and it begins with our choice in seeing with more depth and honesty.
7. Patience: a pinch of this ingredient will do wonders for this recipe. Add while taking three slow, deep breaths.
8. Trusted Friends: 1-3 of these will do. If you want to add more, go for it! Though I do recommend quality over quantity. This final touch adds a splash of color and captures the recipe with a unique twist. Note that I’m specific about this part. It’s not simply friends you need for this recipe, it is trusted friends. The ones that reflect back to you who you really are. They tenderly hold you up to a standard that invites you to your becoming while simultaneously loving you wildly as you are. This ingredient can be a garnish of the sweetest, spiciest, boldest embellishment. Whatever makes you truly happy, go for that.