The gap within us, or 7 things we should love in ourselves, not just in others

When did we last write a love letter to someone else? And when was the last time we wrote one to ourselves?
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I love myself. A strange combination of words, isn’t it?

When did we last say something like that to ourselves?

I love you seems normal. To love another person. To appreciate another person. To need another person.

But what relationship do we actually have with ourselves? What do we most appreciate in ourselves? Why don’t we ask this question more? Do we play second fiddle in our own lives?

I discovered something peculiar:

When I was seventeen, I wrote my first love letter. It was extremely clumsy, as you’ll soon be able to judge for yourselves, and, understandably, was addressed to a girl. With age, however, I find that I could have written exactly the same letter to myself. To my ‘Me’.

My ‘Me’ has been able to keep me going through many difficult situations (far more than that girl). Countless times it has given me strength and motivation. Thanks to it I haven’t been alone and have felt myself to be in good company.

So, if you feel down or anxious this week or at the end of the year, think about my letter and this question: What about you and loving yourself?

Transcript of my letter from December 1992:

What do I love in you?

1. Your smile.

I don’t know whether your teeth are perfectly straight and gleaming white. What makes your smile beautiful is the spark that lights up in your eyes. With your smile you show how happy you are to see me, and you say that you will give me a piece of your heart for today.

Your smile has changed me. I have realised that although we cannot rewrite the past or control the whole of the future, what we can change is the mood in which we accept what happens to us.

And what I love most about your smile is that it touches my heart.

2. Your self-respect.

I love how you accept yourself – Completely, unqualified; with your good sides and bad. You work on both. You strengthen the first; you rid yourself of the second.

You change not because someone judged that you should be different, but because you alone know what is good for you.

You teach me that if we do not respect ourselves, others will also have no respect for us.

3. Your courage.

Yet you tell me that you are sometimes afraid, as the world seems too huge and unfathomable. You say that it’s sometimes hard to get out of bed, to put on a smile and face reality. Even so, every day you find new strength to get up – courageous and balanced.

Your courage encourages me. Every day you show that courage is not the absence of fear, but determination. With your courage you are saying that some things are just more important than your fear.

You have enabled me to understand that life is not about loving the obstacles that stand in our way, but about loving what awaits us beyond those obstacles – thoughts, dreams and people.

It is your courage and passion that give us the will and desire to reach them. Where others ask ”Why do it?”, you clearly show me: BECAUSE!

4. Your positivity.

I love that you care about the beauty of life so much that you can smile even when there is no reason to do so. By smiling, you turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity. You always look at the coin from the best side. You see a half-empty glass of water as being half-full.

You have made a huge change to my life through this positivity of yours.

5. Your kindness.

You have explained to me that it does not matter how strong a person is – everyone has weaknesses and sometimes needs to be heard. Thank you for being my friend.

Although you have enough duties of your own, you find time to help someone who needs it. You prefer to see what troubles me or what I have done wrong with love rather than with condemnation.

You support me. Unconditionally.

6. Your willingness to accept.

I love how you accept the people and situations that come into your life just as they are. You accept them and appreciate them, without trying to mark or distort them.

This does not mean you would give up your free opinion. It means that you can rid your head of your fantasies, which are mostly about how people could or should be, how things should or could turn out – and they’re not like that and they don’t turn out like that.

That’s what’s beautiful about it – you’re able to love life the way it is.

7. Your loyalty to love.

Although you sometimes feel pain or perhaps try to hide something you’re ashamed of, in the end, love is always within you.

Although you sometimes need time to rest and let your wounds heal, in the end you always return to loving again.

I love that for you, love is not a choice but a priority.

My wish

I wish for you to always be ready to see the happier side of life in the ups and downs that are sure to come.

I wish for you to bring light into situations which others find dark enough to drive them mad.

I wish for you to keep improving my mood with your smile, so I stop taking myself so seriously and am able to see the beauty in small things and the comic side of life’s absurdities.

That is my letter – in a similar spirit. I wish everyone you give it to not only a sense of fulfilment in the coming year, but also constant appreciation of their own self-worth. After all, people always treat us the way we let them treat us – i.e. how high/low we set our love for ourselves.

© Petr Casanova