heartcrpdIn February I traveled to Reno to speak for NEDAwareness Week 2013 by invitation of Center for Hope of the Sierras and the University of Reno.

This trip was significant for too many reasons to easily process. For starters, the last time I was in Reno was 1994-1996, when I was still ungodly sick with anorexia and bulimia, feeling lost and scared every minute of every day and doubting absolutely everything – including whether I would make it to 1997.

I came back a changed girl. Woman, really (technically I suppose that is what we are supposed to call ourselves when we reach age 42). But sometimes I still feel like a girl – my eating disorder blocked out so many otherwise high quality years of my life, years when I just wasn’t there because I was so gridlocked in my own inner battles.

I also came back and discovered I was booked at the exact same hotel where I used to stay in the 90’s! Then called the Reno Hilton (and costing $20 per night) today rooms go for over $100 and the large white landmark is much more grandly named the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.

Best of all, I came back to spend time with some incredible folks, including my sweet hostess, Melissa from Center for Hope of the Sierras. We were talking after the Beauty Undressed program ended, and we got on the subject of self-love. Specifically, we were brainstorming about how we know we do or don’t love ourselves.

My contribution was this: I know I love myself when I treat myself with the same patience, respect, open-mindedness and open-heartedness as I would a different person (friend, family member, pet, et al) whom I know I truly love.

For instance, if my best friend came to me and told me she had said or done something awful that she was quite prepared to hate herself for. I wouldn’t jump in there and pile on more hate. I would sit with her, ask her what about it makes her feel so awful, ask her to please forgive herself because I know she has such a good heart and then we can figure out how she can make it right.

I went through this exact same scenario last week, only instead of my best friend and me talking, it was me and me talking. And this is exactly how I handled it.

And that is how – today – I know I love myself. This doesn’t mean (and I’ve found this to be an important distinction to make for myself) that I always like myself. Far from it. Liking how I am acting, what I am thinking or how I am feeling is one thing. Loving myself is quite another.

Today, I know I can and do love myself because I can and do separate liking from loving.

That was my answer. At least for today. 🙂

Today’s Takeaway: I would love to hear your thoughts about how you know you do/don’t love yourself too…and also what has worked well for you to develop a healthy, overall loving relationship with YOU.

Heart on an easel photo available from Shutterstock