“To love yourself”: Learning from Ms Yuko Watanabe

Posted on Feb 16, 2013 in Articles - Counselling

This book was published by ‘Inochi no kotoba sha’. It was given to me by my older sister more than 20 years ago. It had been left on the book shelf for a long time but I re-read it a few yeas ago. I’m sure when I read it before that it left some impression on me, as there were some marks on the pages. But at the time when I started to re-read it I didn’t remember much.

That time was hard for me as I was carrying painful emotions, so this title struck me. Ms Watanabe, the author of this book, had experienced obsessive-compulsive disorder. After she had those dark days she had strength to look into herself through counselling, and now she goes everywhere in Japan to talk about her experience.

“Emotional illness is an illness of a relationship. Love never cuts off a relationship. When I thought about what this means, I realised about my relationship with myself. When I had the pain in me, I cut off the relationship with myself and I couldn’t love myself. ” said Ms Watanabe. (page 101)

I could relate with this description. In another book, the author said that her husband said to her, “It is Ok that you be yourself.” I was wishing if I could be her and get approval from other people of who I was. When I look back, I was in the situation where I couldn’t love myself – I didn’t have confidence in myself, and I thought it was important how people valued me.

Probably there are many people who don’t know why they can’t love themselves, which means it is a very painful situation. It is often rooted in how you faced sadness, anger or fear.

Ms Watanabe said in the book that people get comfort and strength by meeting the person who is able to see someone’s heart in a non-judgemental manner. If you can love yourself (knowing yourself) you could have strength to make changes in you when you face the situation that you can’t accept.

I believe that we can love ourselves – we all have an inner strength, but sometimes we have to step back and look into our heart for it.