Monday, May 21, 2012

The Love Toilet

Does anyone remember this old Saturday Night Live sketch?



Saturday Night Live has always taken comedy to a deeper level than my mother gives it credit for. Their sketches specialize in taking serious issues and showing us the truth through absurdity. What is the message hidden in this sketch? We are all becoming too co-dependent. Though the sketch touches on our need to share everything with our partner, (as if having our own interests, likes/dislikes, or opinions is somehow wrong) I think it goes even deeper than that. We depend on validation from our parents, spouses, and even our kids(how many of you have a "proud parent of an honor student" bumper sticker?). We need to learn to validate ourselves.

Everyone has heard the saying "to love someone else you have to first love yourself", but how many of us actually listen to that saying we have heard so many times before? And how many of us know how to put it into practice? How do you love yourself? Sure, some people love themselves too much, but for most of us, loving ourselves is far from second nature. Instead we rely on others to make us feel loved.

The first step towards loving ourselves is harder than you would think. The first step is we need to BE ourselves. How many times have you refrained from saying what you really thought because someone else might think it was dumb? How many times have you held your tongue to avoid an argument? Or worse, just given in and done something you didn't want to just because it was easier than standing up for yourself? It happens with most of us every day. You lie to your parents so as not to hurt their feelings, your spouse says something hurtful and you just let it go, your kid is throwing a fit in the store so you buy him/her the candy bar they don't need just to shut them up. Not only are you not being true to yourself, but you are just setting yourself up for future times when you will end up doing it again. Your parents will buy you yet another ugly sweater, your spouse will begin to feel it is their right to talk to you like that, and your kids will learn they can get whatever they want if they scream loud enough.

Now I am not saying be a jerk, because chances are you are not a jerk, so that wouldn't be being "you" either. There is no need to tell your parents that you would rather die than wear that ugly thing, or your spouse that they are an insensitive (insert expletive here), or that your kid is being a big fat baby and that candy bar will make them even fatter. Instead, thank your parents for thinking of you (because it is the thought that counts) then calmly and in a friendly and inviting manner tell them about your style. When your spouse says something hurtful take a moment to step back and think about what they are really trying to say and let them know (calmly) a more appropriate way of saying it. If you can't figure out what they are trying to say, ask them. A simple "I don't think you really believe I am a lazy good for nothing gold digger, I know you love me and you wouldn't love someone you truly believed was like that, so what are you really trying to say?" will suffice. And for the screaming kid, "You don't need the candy bar, we have plenty of sweets at home."


 The key to being yourself is standing up for yourself calmly. If you aren't calm then you aren't really portraying YOU. You are not yourself when you are angry, there are all kinds of studies showing that the rush of adrenaline changes you. Once you start being yourself and standing up for yourself you will start respecting and loving yourself more. Then others will too, but they can't love you if they don't know you.

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