If we give our children sound self-love, they will be able to deal with whatever life puts before them.
bell hooks

Growing up, like many other young people, I wanted to be accepted by my peer groups. I played sports, hung out and did all the things a young person would do to be accepted by those we thought were cool. Even though I would have preferred to stay home to read books, I felt better about myself when my friends saw me as one of them. No matter how much our parents can fill us with love and joy, when we are young we believed it is our parent's’ job to love us. Our real validation comes from the outside world - films, magazines, friends and of course, love interests.

As we age and start to become aware of liking that special someone, we question whether people find us good looking and to be their partner. I recall looking at myself in the mirror daily liking the way my afro was shaped, how distinct the gap in my tooth made me feel and how being smart made me feel good about myself. Yet I didn’t know if anyone felt the same way I felt about myself. Not until I was 12 on the one fateful day when the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood (to me at least), I think her name was Kim told me that I looked good. Instead of taking the compliment and acting real cool, I ran home feeling embarrassed and gazed longingly at her from the window in our apartment. I had no idea what to say at the time and never did for a while after that. All I knew was finally, the outside world started to see what I saw inside.

I still had some rough times when in grade 8 there were days I ran home crying after being criticized for having a big forehead. Or during the time of the famine in Ethiopia when I was in grade 9 I was thought to be Ethiopian/African because I was dark and skinny. In that era, it was not cool to be African. The table had flipped. Why couldn’t the world see me, as I saw myself? Despite the outside criticism, I focused on seeing myself as good looking and worked on developing my charisma, my charm and my ability to connect with people. By my third year of high school I noticed that people started to pay attention to other things beside my intellect!

By university dark skin was in! Yes! Wesley Snipes, Morris Chestnut and Tyson Beckford gave us darker skinned brothers the upper hand! Lol! Had anything about my looks changed? Not at all. Whether I'm good looking or not to me became irrelevant. It is the intangibles that made me more appealing to others. It was my confidence, my determination and the way I carried myself. In fact, what had been cultivated over the years began from my own affirmations. Little did I know that the exercises I practiced when I was younger could become real. By using positive self-talk and affirmations, I was teaching my subconscious mind to believe I was good looking. Since the subconscious mind cannot distinguish what's real and what is not real, the words I told myself became true. This did not make me good looking in the standard sense, it gave me the qualities that most good looking people are perceived to possess - confidence, charisma and the ability to connect with people relatively easily. This positive self-talk helped me in my older years to overcome adversity and perceived failure. My moments of failure did not last long for I never allowed it to define me. Only I can define myself!

People love to be around others who are confident. We love to be around people who see the potential we see in ourselves. In order to allow ourselves to shine, we have to overcome the negative images presented by the outside world. Most importantly we have to fend off the 50 000 negative thoughts we have daily. To achieve a greater sense of self and to achieve success we must first reclaim our narrative. Our narrative is a reflection of how we see ourselves. For our outer reality is a reflection of our inner thoughts. Thus, we must see things that happen to us like failing, as events and not allow failing to define us as failures. We are who we are and not what happens to us. A powerful exercise popularized by Dr. Christiane Northrup that helps us to accept ourselves for who we are and helps to achieve self-love is as follows:

For 30 days, the first thing you do every morning and at the end of the night, look at yourself in the mirror and say:

“I accept myself unconditionally right now”.

Look and honour your curves, your shape, your skin and every aspect of yourself and say to yourself:

“I accept myself unconditionally right now”.

We are honouring ourselves today as we are. We are not waiting for ourselves to lose 10 lbs, or get a new job or when so and so notices us. It is about us validating ourselves. This is the first step to transforming our narrative. It is going to feel weird and uncomfortable at first but after a few weeks this becomes easier as we make it a part of our daily habit. This is an exercise similar to what I did as a child which helped me tremendously well into adulthood. It will help you as well. We are all born to love and to be loved. The first step though is self-love.

Lennox J. Cadore

Author's Bio: 

Speaker, personal trainer, fitness instructor, nutrition and life coach
Do you need help implementing information that can transform your own life? I can help you attain your goals and visions. If you have any questions on self-care, designing the proper exercise or meal plans to suit your needs email me: lennox@lennoxcadore.com and we can work together to create a healthier you!