by Maria Sirois
At the end of a lecture on self-care one night, a woman in her early seventies approached me. She is beloved in our community, a figure of generosity and warmth, and known for her constant care of others. She gathers clothes, feeds the homeless at our annual Thanksgiving weekend feast in the basement of a local church and knits shawls. She came toward me tentatively, after everyone else had moved toward the coffee and cookie table and asked me, “But what if you don’t feel you are worthy of loving yourself?” I was shocked to hear this from her and yet not surprised at all—for at the heart of so many of us lay this same terror, this same lurking suspicion: “Everyone else is better. Everyone else counts. I am as nothing. I don’t really matter.” This message, indoctrinated in us often since childhood, does not serve us. It limits our capacity to grow, to enjoy the bounty of life and our ability to bring our unique gifts to the world. It makes it hard to receive love and hard to believe that, as Byron Katie suggests, “In a perfect universe, someone would be you.” So let me say clearly and directly: we need you. We need you to be yourself and to find a way, small positive step by small positive step, to love yourself just 3% more, 5% more. We invite you to choose one thing each day that elevates your self-care or your self-respect and practice this as if you are shaping a work of art—which you are—which is you. We need this for you, of course, so that you begin to experience life in all its richness. And we need this, of course, for ourselves so that we can be inspired to remember that we too, matter.
Dr. Maria Sirois, PsyD, is the Vice President of Curriculum at Wholebeing Institute and an inspirational speaker, seminar leader, and author who has worked at the intersections of wellness, psychology, and spirituality for nearly 20 years. As a wellness guide, Maria has been invited to keynote throughout the country at conferences for wellness centers, hospitals, hospices, philanthropy, business, academic and corporate institutions, as well as for the general public. She has been called both a “true teacher” and “an orator of great power and beauty.” Her book, “Every Day Counts: Lessons in Love, Faith, and Resilience from Children Facing Illness, was published in 2006.”