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Ms P is a single woman, 26 years in age. A software professional, has had a steady work profile. She is academically very good.

I met her at a wedding reception of common friend. When she realised, I was a mental health professional, very hesitantly, she told me, “I don’t love myself. Is that wrong?” It is not unusual for a psychiatrist to be asked “mental health related” questions in a social setting. So, I geared myself to an extended conversation. However, instead of probing on the “do not love myself” angle, I asked her – Can you remember a happy moment that made you feel proud of yourself. She thought a bit – perhaps taken by surprise. After a few minutes of silence, she said – “Well, I felt very good, when I heard that I had topped my final exams in my engineering College”. I kept quiet. “Actually before that, I had secured a placement at the campus interview – I was the first one. That was very exciting” Then, she went on, “My poem was published in the office newsletter as a celebration the PRIDE month” .  She spent the next 10 minutes telling me about her success points in life. Her words – not mine. I asked her how she felt at these times. Prompt came her answer “Felt very good about myself”.   I then observed the disconnect for someone able to recall so many “proud and feeling good about it” moments – with “not loving myself” . She went silent and gently nodded her head.

A few days later, she called me. She said that the conversation that we had at the wedding opened her eyes – she was now able to see herself as someone competent and worthy of being loved. I congratulated her on the fact that she had made the change AND the fact that she reinforced it by making the phone call

Reflecting ….I feel proud that I was able to bring in a change IN SOMEONE SO YOUNG – IN THE PRIME OF HER LIFE. Imagine, if she had gone through her best years, thinking, “I do not love myself”

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Comment by Marie Lamboray on January 25, 2024 at 9:01pm

Very moving, thank you for sharing, Padmavati !

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 12, 2024 at 1:05pm

Powerful story, amazing facilitation- helping Ms P realize her own strengths without pointing them out to her.  A big hug from Delhi!

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