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I Love Me Exactly As I Am

by Harmony Rose West

As a child, I suffered greatly from rock-bottom low self-esteem.  Raised by a narcissistic Marine father who had PTSD after serving in two wars, I concluded that there was something radically wrong with me and hated myself for not being able to please my Dad.  No matter how hard I tried, nothing was good enough and every single day brought feelings of inadequacy.  

Elementary school was my safe haven.  I absolutely adored school, where I could apply myself and feel some success.  Maybe Dad felt intimidated by my love for school because sometimes as punishment, I wouldn’t be allowed to go.  

The teachers liked children, and seemed to have our best interests at heart.  One teacher in particular, Mrs. Barton, saw my innate inner light and did her best to help me shine.  I still remember her hand on my shoulder, and her smile encouraging me to do my best, and trust that was enough.  I knew right then and there I would become a teacher.  

Inspired by Mrs. Barton’s loving-kindness, learning how to become my own best teacher and friend became the focus of my life.  How could I truly, madly, deeply show up for myself and trust in my own goodness?

Fast forward, almost six decades, I am happy to say that step-by-step, I have successfully transitioned from self-loathing to self-loving.  I’ve learned that perfection is not the key to a successful life, self-resilience and self-love are.

One of my greatest joys is facilitating girls’ self-esteem circles.  We pass around a talking stick, a tradition borrowed from Native American healers.  Whoever has the stick (in our case an agate stone heart) gets a turn to speak without interruption while the other girls give the best gift in the world -¦their gift of listening.

This circle’s focus is creating rock solid self-esteem and as part of the curriculum, I give the girls homework, or heart-work, as I prefer to call it.  The heart-work is meant to be a tool to more deeply ground our topic and encourage the girls’ parents to join them in a sweet self-esteem ritual.  

One simple heart-work has impacted my self-esteem greatly: Put your hand on your heart and tell yourself, I love you exactly as you are.  

I place the paper with the heart-work right in the middle of my kitchen table where it will be a reminder to anchor in self-love.  Every time I encounter the message, I take a deep breath, place my hand over my heart to connect in with myself and feel love for little ole me.  I don’t do anything to deserve the love, I feel it just because I am.  The effects are cumulative, the more I stop and say those words and feel that feeling, the greater my awareness of self-love is.  This simple, act of loving-kindess, this heart-work, is dedicated to Mrs. Barton who put me on the road to loving myself.  

Try it!  Even if you feel you already love yourself, affirming that love is powerful!  Write Put your hand on your heart and tell yourself, I love you exactly as you are on a piece of paper, on your laptop, in your phone – wherever you will see it many times a day.  Whenever you see this loving message, stop, take a deliberate breath, put your heart on your heart and declare that you love yourself exactly as you are.  You can say it out loud or silently, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that you feel it!  Of course, you will continue to grow and evolve, but right here, right now, why not decide to love yourself exactly as you are?  

Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything and love is all there is.  Gary Zukav                             


 We wish to thank Harmony Rose West for her submission of this article for the Lessons From Self Esteem ebook.

Harmony Rose West is a Soul-Full Self-Care Coach and Health and Wellness Educator.  To connect with Harmony, go to



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Category: Lessons From Self Esteem

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