Many of my clients are women who understand the importance of self-acceptance and appreciation because they want their children to exhibit these traits, but they often get stuck on how to do it for themselves.

Of course, the ultimate goal is for us to model being and loving ourselves in an authentic way. If we truly love ourselves, most of what we want in life—again, usually happiness for ourselves and the ones we love—comes so much more easily.

We may still have some worries, and we'll definitely continue to have goals, dreams and desires. When we stand in a place of true self-appreciation and self-love, however, we stop pursuing goals we have to achieve—and avoiding things we have to avoid—simply in order to be accepted and valued. Instead, we find ourselves acting to reach goals we really want to accomplish, and move with foresight to prevent things we're generally concerned about.

On the flip side, if we don't love ourselves, we are not of as much value to others. No matter what we do, we won't be able to appreciate it or be fulfilled in the process. And others, especially our children, are always able to tell if we are serving from a place of joy and grace, or sacrifice and suffering. Which do you think serves them better?

The thing is, we're all searching for love. And only love really matters. We think we can give it to others, or that we can get it from others, but my experience has been that to be truly fulfilled in life, we have to find that love within ourselves, and give it to ourselves, before we can truly give it to others. No other person, amount of money, material possession or accomplishment can do it.

Below is a simple but powerful exercise that will encourage you to take some time to celebrate who you are and to practice appreciating yourself. I hope you will do it!

Step 1

Write a heartfelt letter of gratitude, appreciation and love to yourself. Take some time, put some conscious and generous thoughts and feelings into it and allow yourself to boldly express your love for yourself.

Here is a letter I wrote to myself:

Dear Stacey,

I hope you know that there is not a day that goes by that I am not in awe of you. You are a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. You are kind, generous, and supportive to everyone around you.

The list of attributes I appreciate about you is so long that I will focus the rest of this letter to the appreciation of your body: Every time I look at your son I am reminded that your body created him, nurtured him through gestation, eased him into your midwife's hands as you gave birth to him at home, and then nurtured him even more through years of breastfeeding.

I thought your body and spirit were pretty amazing before you had your son (they carried you, strong and triumphant, through 4 marathons), but since his birth, and your awakening as a mother, I know I will only honor and revere them.

I know that occasionally you've been surprised or disappointed by an illness or by something else that hasn't gone "according to plan," but I'm delighted that you have learned to view them as messages that you simply need to take better care of yourself—to love yourself and your sweet life more and fear less.

So, here's to you! May you enjoy many more happy years as the amazing and glorious being you are! Thank you so much for being a shining light in the world. I love you.

Step 2

Put the letter in a sealed envelope with your name, address and a stamp on it.

Step 3

Give the letter to someone you trust (if you feel silly doing this, send it to me) and ask them to drop it in the mail to you at some point in the next month (without telling you when they do it).

It will show up in the perfect time and probably on a day you could really use some appreciation and acknowledgment. And, the best part is that the love and validation will come from you!

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Curnow works as a certified nurse-midwife in North Carolina, and over more than 15 years her career has taken her from western Indian reservations to a center-city Bronx hospital to the mountains of southwestern Mexico.

She has been an enthusiastic student of positive psychology for years and applies it to her midwifery and life coaching practices with great success. You can find out more about her services at

She is the creator of a thriving and many of her articles have been published in print magazines and online.

She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, young son, and Ruby the wonder chicken.