Popular self-help advice goes something like: “Look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I Love You’ …” multiple times a day.

While that sounds good in theory, there’s a huge flaw here.

Let me paint you a picture. And, when you get to the end of this, you just might have a “holy crap” moment.

Let’s say a parent has a child. Every morning, they sit this child in the most comfortable chair and turn on cartoons.

Beside this chair is a side table and on this table, they put a large bowl of chocolate chip cookies.

Every morning, they kiss the child on the forehead and say “I love you, enjoy your cookies and cartoons”, and come back in the evening, to tuck the child into bed.

Cartoons? Comfy Chair? Chocolate Chip Cookies? That sounds like bliss. This parent must really love their child.

Day, after day, after day … sitting the child in the soft, comfy chair, feeding them cookies and having them watch cartoons while eating cookies.

Every morning, the child is being told “I Love You” and gets a kiss on the forehead.

Over time, what’s going to happen to this child?

As time passes, this child is going to become sick, weak, malnourished and overweight.

Yet, every day they’re told “I Love You”.

Does saying “I Love You” completely negate the neglect and malnourishment this child is receiving?

Eventually, something is going to happen to this child. They’re going to become angry. Resentful. Their mental health would suffer.

And would that come as any surprise?

No amount of well-intentioned words can overcome actions of utter and complete neglect.

That’s the problem that arises when we think that love is just a blissful feeling.

Love is also a verb. An action word.

And if I asked you how you would try to correct this child’s health, if you truly LOVED this child?

I’m willing to bet nearly all of you would say things like:

– “Get them outside to play … get their body moving”
– “Feed that kid some veggies”
– “Get that kid some time away from screens”
– “Let that kid play with other kids”

But, if the child has been stuck in this pattern of neglect for some length of time, what’s the first response going to be?

“I DON’T WANNA!!”

Why?

Because eating veggies won’t taste as good as cookies. Getting up from a comfy chair and moving your body takes more effort than just sitting there.

Changing this situation will be UNCOMFORTABLE, and met with RESISTANCE.

Yet, if the parent loves this child … they will persevere through this discomfort and resistance. Why?

Because they know how different the child’s life will become. The child will become healthy, strong, happy, well-adjusted.

Now, what if I turn the mirror to face you, and say “that child lives inside of YOU”?  

It doesn’t matter how old you are, every one of us has an inner child that doesn’t want to experience discomfort, struggle or pain.

And yet, if you truly want to be healthy and happy? You’re going to have to practice “delayed gratification parenting”.

There’s never a day coming where you can maintain your health by doing nothing. There is no easy street.

Your health is earned. It’s also precious and irreplaceable.

Maintaining your health takes effort. It takes work. It takes action. But every ACT of self-care is a far more powerful expression of self-love than saying words into a mirror.