Dr. Ben Michaelis lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children, Juliet and Charlie, ages 5 and 2. His book, YOUR NEXT BIG THING: 10 Small Steps to Get was released last December. Currently in full-time private practice as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Michaelis specializes in blending play and creativity with mental health. He has served on the faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. His writing appears regularly on The Huffington Post.com and Psychologytoday.com, among other publications. For more information about him, please visit http://www.drbenmichaelis.com, and follow him on Twitter @drbenmichaelis.
Dear Juliet and Charlie,
Because you’re both still quite young right now, what Valentine’s Day basically means to you is chocolate. Which, believe me, I respect. For me, and for many others, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to think about, and demonstrate, my love for those most important to me.
So here’s a letter you can read when you’re old enough to, and interested in reflecting on, this holiday.
The long and short of it all is this: to get the love you want, you have to love yourself first. Why, you ask? What’s self-love got to do with it?
Let me answer your questions with this three-question quiz about self-love:
When you read the words “Self-Love,” how do you feel?
Imagine a friend of yours told you that she had worked hard to learn to love herself. What would you think?
(1) Good for her. She is growing and getting healthy.
(2) That sounds pretty good, but I hope that she avoids becoming self-centered and forget where she comes from.
(3) My friend has been listening to shrink-talk nonsense.
Picture someone who loves himself or herself. What do you imagine that person will be like?
(1) Quietly confident.
(2) Bold and maybe a little brash, but fundamentally self-assured.
(3) Arrogant and disrespectful.
So, how did you do?
Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider how you feel about the idea of self-love.
Score 3–4: You probably already love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.
Score 5–6: You are on the path toward loving yourself, but you occasionally doubt whether loving yourself is healthy or “right.”
Score 7–9: Self-love is either a foreign concept that you have never considered, or you have thought about it and the thought makes you feel sick.
Whatever you scored, I hope the quiz made you think about self-love, because again, only a person who loves himself or herself first can give love freely to others. And if you feel loved and believe in yourself, you’ll be giving, gentle and kind. You’ll be calm, consistent and confident, too.
You’ll also realize there’s plenty of love to go around. And you’ll have the faith to see the glory in — and inspire — others.
Much love and many blessings,