Do you want to know what kind of love you have for yourself?

Here’s a simple test to give you an idea, but be warned, it can be quite an eye opener. It can shatter your illusions, and it can leave you wondering whether you actually love yourself or not! But on the up side, you will no longer live a lie, and from that point of reference, you can do something about it. You can work to create whatever change is necessary, as only from a solid foundation based on truth can you build a castle that reaches the heavens.

This little exercise will take no more than 30 seconds of your time, and it could be the most revealing thing you have ever done for yourself. The idea is very simple. You stand in front of a mirror and you just say to yourself, “I Love You,” Easy, right?

Well, it wasn’t for me. I tried this for the first time about five years ago, and for that first time, I couldn’t even speak the words. How revealing and dispiriting is it to stand in front of a mirror, thinking that all you need to do is say to yourself “I love you,” yet your throat tenses up, your lips tremble, and tears start streaming out of your tear ducts. When you recover from the initial reaction, you then start asking yourself the inevitable questions: Don’t I love myself? What is wrong with me if I can’t even say those words at my own reflection? Who will love me if I can’t even love myself?

It kind of shattered a few of my illusions, or delusions, but I persisted. I took a step back from the experience, I thought about it, I questioned myself, and after a short while, I tried again. The second time was a bit more successful, I managed to say the words, but still with great difficulty, and still crying. It took many times before I could say it with clarity, and without tears. This seemingly innocent test took me even further within myself, trying to understand why this was so difficult, even though I thought I had already done so much introspection in my life. And I still do it once in a while, as a continual self-assessment tool, to be certain that I remain on a good path — not only in life, but within myself.

I have shared this test with other people in my surroundings, friends and family, and many have confided in me about their difficulties going through it, and several mentioned that it was a bit of a depressing realization, of staring at oneself and stumbling at the effort of saying something that should be easy. It’s something that most of us have said so many times to others — our partners, family, children — so it’s fair to assume that to ourselves, we shouldn’t even have to give it a second thought.

Why don’t you give it a shot — after all, who else but ourselves should we love the most? Isn’t the very starting point of love within our own hearts?

For this test, don’t just do it one morning before running off to work, throwing those words at the mirror as you put on deodorant. Take the time to ease into it, when you are relaxed, preferably alone at home, when your mind is not thinking about all sorts of problems and to-do lists. Use subdued lighting, no disturbing noises or music, just as if you were whispering those words for the first time to a romantic partner. Don’t you deserve the same treatment?

Stand in front of the mirror and take a bit of time to warm up to the idea. Take a few moments to look deeply into your own eyes, to connect to the deepest parts of yourself. Then, when you feel you have attained a quiet state of mind and a good connection to your own soul as much as possible, say these words in the most meaningful and heartfelt manner you can achieve: “I LOVE YOU.” Don’t worry whether you can manage this the first time. There is no correct or incorrect result. No matter the outcome, you can always try again at another time.

True love can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, so don’t be hard on yourself. It’s important to keep in mind that the beauty is within the steps that we take along that path, not the end result. See it as a relationship-building exercise with yourself, which could lead you on a great journey of self-discovery, shattering illusions that can be holding you back from your own true self.

Enjoy the adventure!

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