self-help exercise

Here’s what I want you to do today.  Print this blog, or get a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer for 15 minutes. For 15 minutes, write down every single little random funny bit about why you “heart” yourself, and every big deep emotional philosophical reason as well. No stopping. No editing. You can edit later. You don’t have to look at the clock, because your timer will go off when it’s time. Just write, in list form, like a grocery list, all the reasons why you like yourself. They can be your skills, your attitude, your physical appearance, your relationships, whatever you want. For 15 minutes, just go for it.

After the 15 minutes is over, look at your list. Here are some questions to think about when you do: was this easy? Was it hard? Were some types of characteristics easier to see or write than others? Were there things you thought of but didn’t write down? If that’s the case, why not? When is the last time you’ve thought about these things? When is the last time anyone else has told you one of these things? What emotions were brought up for you? Are there things you can think of now, after you’ve warmed up? Were there times in your life that you think this would have been easier/harder? What has changed?

Part of the reason therapy exists is to help us get deep down and dirty into the “voices” – you know, the residual language or phrases left over from parents, relationships, or childhood. Sometimes these voices are supportive and encouraging. Sometimes they are filled with their own fear and anxiety and hold us back with negativity. Sometimes they are so loud and overwhelming that it feels almost impossible for us to come up with our own list of why we “heart” ourselves. It’s so important for our mental health and emotional well-being to be able to sift through what is ours and what is not. Exercises like this one, while they look simple, can bring up a lot. I encourage you to write it down, and share what your experience was like in the comments, if you can.

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