It can happen quickly or take a long time, but eventually we all have to confront our need for our own respect and love.

“The Subject Tonight is Love,” as the poet Hafiz would say, is actually more accurately translated as “the subject of this life is love.”

A psychologist working with returning prisoners of war remarked upon her fascination with the subject matter her clients wished to discuss. They were not interested in discussing the horrors of the camps, the separation from their friends and family, the atrocities of war.

Rather, they focused their time in therapy discussing the intricacies of love – and mostly in the format of their romantic love relationships with others, or lack thereof.

The subject tonight is always love, whether we know it or not.  Whether it is familial love, romantic love, friendship love, or self-love, love is why we wake up in the morning and what helps us fall asleep at night.

Love is where our survival instinct comes from, and why we listen to it and heed its warnings and directions.

Love is what gets us through a crisis, and brings us back to life when the crisis ends.

Love is the only reason we can endure copious amounts of hate, anger, fear, and greed, yet still emerge with our hearts intact.

If we have the love of just one other person, we reason to ourselves, we will be okay.

But have we ever considered that that one other person could – and should – be ourselves?

My mentor, Lynn, has never wavered from reminding me over the years that I deserve my own love and respect.

It is important, she tells me, that I recognize my innate worthiness to receive love and respect from myself. I am here. I keep waking up in the morning. I keep putting on my shoes, going to work, helping others, learning, growing, enduring my own ups and downs, slogging through the fear, the pain, enjoying the joy, loving, giving……LIVING.

If that isn’t worth my own love and respect, she tells me, then what is?

We respect and love others for far less than that. But even when we deserve our own love and respect, we still are so tentative about giving it to ourselves.

It is not a difficult thing to do. Yet it is the most difficult thing we will ever do.

Giving ourselves our own love and respect takes practice. We may discover, in our first attempts, that it makes us very uncomfortable to receive our own love and respect!

If we can offer love and respect to others, we have the capacity to offer that same love and respect to ourselves.

This may be a sign post letting us know that we have discovered something we can work on. We also may need help to do this. This is where, I have discovered, a mentor can come in very handy.

My mentor reminds me on a regular basis that I survived a fifteen-year battle with an eating disorder, and as many years of anxiety and depression, and I am still here. She reminds me of the heartbreaks I have transcended, the amends I have made, the new opportunities I have welcomed, the obstacles I have surmounted.

Lynn is my “I deserve my own love and respect” cheerleader, and she gets so fired up about it that I get very enthusiastic too!

She shows me a me that I am still getting to know. She introduces us, watches while we shake hands, and then she sends us off to have tea together and get to know each other better.

Today’s Takeaway: Imagine you are not you – you are someone else. And you are observing “your” life. Can you see events, decisions, circumstances, where you have performed admirably and deserve the highest respect? Look at your relationships. Can you see places where you have loved without having to, tried without wanting to, served without any expectation of reward? What about in your recovery? You are still here – and recovery is so hard! If you were not you, but were someone else, would you struggle so much to admit that you deserve your own respect and love?