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What We Must Know Is True


How do you know you’re breathing? When I ask clients this question, they think it’s a silly thing to ask and usually say, “Well, duh, I just know.” What I want them to recognize is that there are some things we don’t question. Instead, we “just know” they’re true. 

Two such truths to acknowledge intertwine: that we’re lovable and have choices. Do you “just know” you’re lovable or is this a question that you’re unsure how to answer? Healthy people know they are (that is, they’re worthy of love and have lovable qualities) in the same way they know they’re breathing. Their worth and value is either a given from an early age or a question that’s been asked and answered at some point in life, so they never have to consider it again.

It’s also true that there are choices and consequences in life. We make a decision and either enjoy or suffer the result (or sometimes it’s a mixed bag). Sure, people helped make us who we are (and were made the way they are by others), but now that we’re adults we get to make choices and see what happens. The choices aren’t always pleasant; they may be extremely painful. Yet, we have to make them. Even not making a choice is a choice.

Here's how the truths of lovability and choice fit together. When it’s a given that you love yourself, you try to make choices that reflect valuing self. Stopping smoking, for example. As an ex-smoker, I’ll vouch for the fact that kicking the habit can be difficult, so much so that I had to do it twice in my twenties for it to finally stick. My decision not to smoke came from a growing love for myself which deepened into a certainty that I was worthwhile and to be treated well—by myself and others.

I’m not saying a person must be perfect because they know they’re lovable. Goodness no. People who love themselves sometimes make poor choices. (I do.) The point is they don’t make them often or repeatedly. And when they make them, they learn from them because, above all, they want to make choices that reflect the profound love and respect they have for themselves. They honor themselves by doing what’s best for their minds and bodies, even when it means breaking habits they’ve had for decades, even when it means causing themselves to suffer in other ways (breaking up with hurtful friends or lovers and feeling lonely, craving a cigarette, asking for help when they need it, refusing help when they don’t, or saving rather than spending money).

If you’re truly certain that you’re lovable (aka, it’s a no-brainer) and agree you have choices, then what’s stopping you from aligning your habits with valuing yourself?