When my youngest son was in high school, I noticed a trend amongst his teen friends. When you'd ask them how they were, they almost always said "tired" for all their emotions. It was code for "don't probe."
But I'm a prober. And what I noticed as I probed was that at this age, with all the pressures to be perfect and the noise of teen pressure made so much louder by social media, was that they had a really difficult time loving themselves. The cliche is true: how do you love other people if you hate yourself? They didn't come right out and say the hate part, but you could see it in the drag of their steps. I especially saw this with the teen girls that passed through my circles, but it definitely crossed gender lines.
In response to that, I created the LOVE Campaign. LOVE was an acronym for Let Old Views Evolve. My idea was that if they could form a habit of loving themselves for 30 days, then they could form a habit of loving others for the next 30 days. The challenge was this: if you start talking negatively to yourself, you say 5 nice things to yourself as if you were talking to your bff, and start over without judgment. It wasn't another effort at perfection, but rather the institution of a new habit of thinking. It was a twist off a Project Self Esteem lesson I had taught in Manhattan Beach. The second 30 days you repeated the process towards others. Both were painfully difficult.
It was extremely hard for most of the teens to get past two days, but it got them thinking about just how much hate they were sending themselves.
I found that both distressing and fascinating. When the first batch of bracelets arrived, my husband ripped open the box, put one on, and declared "I think the second 30 days are going to be way harder than the first 30." We both laughed. Yep.
That made me want to take it out to different adult groups and give them the LOVE Campaign Challenge. Was this just a teen thing? I'd pass them out in many types of different groups and give the instructions along with it. Some wouldn't even put them on. Some used them again and again, long after I'd forgotten I'd given them one. Today's perk is the love campaign because my thinking is that the more people on the planet who love themself as a habit, the easier it will be to love others.
Sometimes it's hard to get that place. A person just may feel quite the opposite, and even be annoyed by the sappiness of this email. And that's okay, because it's not for everybody. But if it's for you, scoot on over to the campaign , donate and follow our tribe. Even if it's not for you, maybe you could share it with someone you love.
That teenage son is now at University. He called me up one day and said, "Oh my God. I've turned into my mom. When I see people negatively talking to themselves, I ask them to start their days with 3 positive things. You know, like the LOVE thing."
Oceans of Love,