In that famous scene from the movie about Joan Crawford, the renowned actress declares in a rage to her daughter Christina that she use “No wire hangers – ever!”

Hopefully you did not grow up with that kind of extreme abusive relationship, but it is not so far-fetched to think that as an adult you might be treating yourself like Cinderella’s evil stepmother on steroids from time to time, subtly, overtly or subconsciously beating yourself up about the most trivial or significant things. Until we recognize and do something about it, we are often our own harshest critics when we need to be our most compassionate caregivers.

Do you speak nicely and are kind to yourself, especially in that tape that runs in your head? Do you take care of your body by eating healthy when you’re hungry, dressing appropriately for the weather, getting enough sleep, nursing yourself when sick, exercising, resting and PLAYing on a regular basis? Do you allow yourself to express, like a young child does, any emotion you are feeling – anger, sadness, frustration, joy, laughter in an appropriate and timely manner? (meaning don’t walk around emotionally constipated!) And especially if you are a mother of young children, responsible for an aging parent, a teacher, healing professional or other type of ‘official’ caregiver role, are you taking care of yourself as much as you take care of others?

Or perhaps on some level you operate like a neglected ‘orphan’, walking around searching outside yourself, doing anything for that feeling of warmth and nurturing (or a continuation of it if you did have it as a child). The bottom line is that we can’t rely on anyone to provide this for us – neither a spouse, partner, boyfriend/girlfriends, nor parents; as mature adults (which has nothing to do with age) we should strive to be emotionally, physically, financially, and intellectually self-sufficient, and most importantly, loving towards ourselves.

Whether or not you had a positive experience with whoever raised you, learn to nurture yourself as if you were your own precious child. When we can become ‘mothers’ to ourselves it is a lot easier to give and receive love and compassion with those closest to us and even with strangers. It doesn’t matter if you are ill, out of work, frustrated with a relationship or the state of the world – if we each commit to healing ourselves and take responsibility for our own well-being, we will begin to see positive change in big and small ways around us.

And to all the men out there, gender doesn’t matter – we each have a gentle feminine nature within us that we can call upon and develop, just like we also have a macho warrior spirit!

So tonight when you go to bed, tuck in that little girl or boy within you, maybe drink some tea, read a story and tell yourself you are sublimely cherished and grateful for all that you are, because like Lenny Kravitz’s Mama said, your life is a gift and love’s all that matters.

For related thoughts on this topic check out: (Wo)Man Up, One is the Magic Number, Discipline is Not a Dirty Word, The Pleasure Principle