We must learn to thrive. Surviving is not enough.

The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we have in our lives.

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Self-love means showing up for ourselves daily, celebrating our successes, and understanding that whatever we feel we need from others we have the power to give ourselves.

Internally we all have a flame that can never go out.

There are many beliefs about this flame. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the author of Warming the Stone Child, tells us one of the sayings about the flame is that any type of wood that is half burnt always has a spark or ember in it that can be fanned by a very small wind into a gigantic flame. This is also true for those of us who lacked parental guidance as a child. Our flame can also be fanned until it is burning brightly.

Even those of us who have had terrible experiences in the past must realise that surviving is not enough. We must learn to thrive. The flame must be fanned into something that’s sturdy, something that doesn’t waver every time someone gives us a funny look, disapproves of us, or ignores us. We must become resilient so that our flame burns brightly. That is what the little flame inside us is all about. That is what healing our inner child is all about.

Estes also talks about how we can suffer from a syndrome she calls ‘collapsing’. When someone is unkind to us we go into a psychic regression with feelings of being worthless, wishing to be invisible, collapsing instead of being adult and stable and present in the moment. This causes the flame to waver.

Unhealthy childhoods can leave us feeling that we have no purpose or value. Without that belief in ourselves, it is difficult to succeed. But however much we look back and try and analyse everything that has happened to us – the neglect, the bullying, the unkind words – it will not help fan the flame.

The tender, the keeper of that flame, is the internal mother, and if we’d had the ideal childhood that flame would already be burning bright and steady.

In order to grow the internal mother, you have to be willing to be kind to yourself. You must be willing to accept self-love and self-respect. It doesn’t matter if you are overweight, too thin, too short, or too tall, it is all to do with caring about all the things that you are. That is what develops the internal mother. You can feel her grow if you are willing to develop your self-love, self-respect, and self-regard for yourself.

Many people who have this deep sense of being unmothered often feel that they are searching for love, that if they were just loved enough, everything would be so much better. But, it doesn’t matter how much love you have lavished on you, it won’t be enough. What will work, is to have the guidance of intuition, the guidance of consciousness, the guidance of common sense. Consciously knowing what you are capable of, what your good points are, what your bad points are, and guiding yourself through life with that knowledge is the deepest internal mother that you can have. And if you are an unmothered child, that is what was missing in your upbringing.

But take heart, no matter what happened to you, that light still lives inside you.

Take the focus away from what you look like, take time to get to know yourself – both your strengths and your weaknesses. Know that whatever has happened to you, you are enough. Nourish your body as a celebration of all it does for you.

And, as you pour love into yourself, that love will spill out into the rest of your life.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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