Andrea, a very successful medical doctor, posed this question during a talk she delivered: “Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I love you?’” The doctor went on to note that for many years it was difficult for her to say those three words. She could not bring herself to sincerely express such words since she believed there was nothing lovable about herself. The fact that Dr. Andrea could not see herself as worthy of self-love was difficult to imagine for anyone who knew her life. She was a top student in school, and an excellent singer and actress. When in college, Andrea performed in community theater, fell in love with video production, and became the general manager of her university's TV station. She did all this while making straight A's as a pre-med student. Andrea eventually went to medical school, poured all of her energy into studies, and no longer pursued her artistic endeavors. All through med school she felt an underlying sadness, and in desperation went to the Student Health Services office for help.
The doctor at Health Services diagnosed Andrea with depression, gave her a prescription for drugs, and recommended therapy. Interestingly, Andrea's doctor gave her one other surprising order: Play classical music 30 minutes a day. Andrea's doctor was one of the members of the committee who interviewed her when she applied to medical school. During the interview, Andrea shared that she loved to play classical music. Andrea’s doctor remembered that. At first, when the doctor suggested she play a half-hour every day, Andrea resisted. She believed there was no way she would be able to keep up with her studies and play the piano every day. But she finally settled on playing thirty minutes a week.
After just a couple of weeks of playing the piano, Andrea’s depression disappeared. Looking back over her life, Andrea had a revelation. She realized that all her life her passion was for the arts – singing, acting, and dancing. However, her parents (her father in particular) discouraged her from spending time in such artistic endeavors. They believed that such pursuits would not lead to a successful life. As a result, Andrea pursued her passions under the radar, and went down a doctor's career path to please her parents. She was living their dreams for them, and not going for the aspirations of her heart.
But Andrea decided to go all out to re-engage her passion for the arts. When she did, not only did it help her get through med school, and eliminate her depression, but she demonstrated the power of practicing an aspect of The Platinum Rule of Love. One way that I interpret the Platinum Rule of love is by using the phrase, “Treat yourself well.” Part of treating yourself well is to participate in activities that bring you joy and allow you to express your true self. We aren't treating ourselves well when we are so programmed that we shut down, and belittle ourselves for seeking a way to express our deepest passions to the world. Moreover, when we try to satisfy someone else’s vision for our life, we inhibit our joy.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, express love to others, but remember to also express that love to yourself. We reveal self-love when we don't cram ourselves into a box of conformity, and realize that we are here to live and celebrate our uniqueness. When we do, we can look into the mirror and say with conviction, "I love you."
Peace and Blessings,