Loved

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are
gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.

~Mr. Fred Rogers

One of my favorite people in the world is someone I never met. Well, in person that is. I did meet with him on a daily basis as a child on our family’s black and white television. He welcomed me into his neighborhood and home, introduced me to his friends and neighbors, and told me, every day, that I was special and worthy of love. I have great parents who also told me the same things, but there was something about hearing it from my gentle, welcoming friend, Mr. Rogers, that solidified the sense in me that I could be loved, just as I am.

Whether I realized it or not at the time, he contributed to establishing and growing that foundational cornerstone in me. Even today, his voice and words strengthen that centering sense of ultimate truth in me – that I am loved as I am – and softens my heart to move ever closer to receive myself, and others – as they are. Hear me when I say that this core sense of my “truest self” – the part of me that is free and accepting of myself – gets bumped into every day. I wrestle with myself. I wrestle with others. Yet, ultimately, there’s movement there. A recognition that, if I need to be and am loved as I am, I need to meet and be open to people just where they are as well.

Fred Rogers is often written off by many as “simple” or “soft” as he talked slowly, focused on feelings, and exuded a gentle spirit. I would offer, however, that writing him off is more about a person’s discomfort when Mr. Rogers so clearly sees some of our most basic individual and collective needs: To be heard. To be accepted. To belong. Simple, yet complicated.

If we can name it, we can talk about it. Or as Fred Rogers said,

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

Mr. Rogers taught how taking time and space for the “little feelings” helps to attend to and moderate the “big feelings”. This begins, first and foremost, with recognizing your feelings, big and small and everything in between.

Expand your feelings vocabulary. Name what you are feeling. See each feeling’s value and purpose. Give them the attention and validation that they need from you. Let them teach you what they may, about yourself, and others. And end with grace. 

And we are back to where we started…yes, I can be loved, in this moment, just as I am. Thank you, Mr. Rogers. 

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