The Love Comes First

Tcarhe fall of my senior year of High School a friend drove up one day in a beat up wreck of a car. It had different colors on every body panel and plenty of bondo to go around. He climbed out looking like he had won the lottery! I smirked with amusement as he talked excitedly about how great this car was and his plans to fix it up. His eyes lit up with his view of the future of this rust bucket.

As the year went by I watched a gradual transformation occur. Bit by bit my friend restored every inch of that car. As we faced final exams that year, my friend arrived in what had become a shining, rumbling, teenage automotive dream. It was as beautiful as the image he had described in the fall.

What I’ve learned from that experience is that the love comes first. That car looked like a disaster to me. He loved it, saw the possibilities and went to work bringing it about.

Many of my clients come in looking at themselves the way I looked at my friend’s car. All they can see is their flaws. They feel discouraged, depressed, and inadequate. Often they are anxious fearing others can or will see the deficits they perceive so acutely. They express the need to fix all these flaws first so that they can then view themselves with approval and care.

Starting with a caring attitude allows you to focus on your possibilities and potential. You can see the good in yourself. With this vision of strengths in mind, you can take the steps toward creating a more satisfying life. Starting with care your sense of self improves. Without the care, every effort to heal and grow is undermined, and progress comes very slowly if at all.

So my recommendation is to start with love for yourself as you are now. If love is too hard at first, practice kindness. Envision the possibilities. Get started on positive change. Be patient and persist.

By: Phil Rainer, LCSW-R