A young Whitney Houston sung the lyric, “Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all,” on her debut album back in 1985, released a few months after my dad passed away. Could she have known that loving herself would be the challenge of her life?
That song – and the entire album – helped me through a very rough time in my young life. Even more importantly, the sound of that musical compilation – and that voice – inspired a generation.
What happened to such a talented person? Trust me, the real answer won’t be found in a toxicology report. Self-doubt, not accepting one’s self in the moment, not truly loving one’s self is truly toxic.
Kevin Costner’s remarks about the Whitney he knew, spoken during Whitney’s “going home” service, left quite an impression. He said some remarkably important things worth repeating:
“The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame still wondered: Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?”
“It was the burden that made her great.”
“Whitney if you could hear me now I would tell you, you weren’t just good enough – you were great…You weren’t just pretty – you were as beautiful as a woman could be. And people didn’t like you, Whitney – they loved you.”
If only Whitney could have received such a public affirmation when she was alive, and that it would have meant enough to her that she could have felt it, maybe she would have found a way to breathe new meaning into the idea of “learning to love yourself.”
Costner took full advantage of his time at the pulpit, reaching out directly to Houston’s daughter, and to all “those young girls who are dreaming that dream [of being like Houston].” His words struck a chord: “…maybe thinking they aren’t good enough, I think Whitney would tell you: Guard your bodies, and guard the precious miracle of your own life…”
His point is a piece of priceless advice. You don’t have to be famous, seeking fame, be the offspring of famous parents, or even be a child to take it to heart.
At any point in our lives we may experience situations that challenge our self-esteem. I’ve certainly shared my own battles in many blog past blog posts, especially the ones having to do with overcoming the effects of being bullied as a teen.
Though I never turned to drugs, alcohol, or to self-abusive, addictive behaviors, and don’t judge or condone anyone’s choice or reasons for going there, I can understand how easy it could be. When you hurt so much that you need an escape, you’re in a very fragile emotional state. Now that doctors so easily and quickly prescribe drugs for anxiety and depression, a spotlight is now being shined on how people are turning to abusing them. Absolutely, when prescribed and used properly, these drugs can help people create balance in life.
But how can we transform into our best possible selves if we’re numb to feeling our feelings? We need to experience our emotions, even when they’re painful. We’ve got to have people around us who do lift us up, and protect us. It’s important and smart to surround ourselves with a support system that helps us each be our most successful.
I work with lots of amazing people who feel that they are “less than,” but who clearly have been given many amazing gifts that are meant to be shared with the world. Sharing is what makes you feel good. Whitney sure had that. But sadly, she lost the ability to feel one final time. I always say that the best thing to clothe yourself in is confidence, in self-worth. Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift you can possibly give yourself.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.