Terms of Endearment


I want to show you something. There’s this amazing transformation I’ve been witness to. I wish I could show it to you. What I want to capture is what happens to a woman’s face, body, and whole being when I ask her to identify a meaningful and resonate term of endearment for herself.

As part of some retreats that I’ve lead, after delving into our inner critic, I have each woman identify and share a name for herself that elicits love, safety, and adoration.

First they journal to themselves, listing all the names that might be fit. Tossing out the ones that feel cloying or inauthentic. Considering the things only their inner circle calls them or perhaps a childhood nickname. They weigh “Lovely” with “Beloved” and “Sweetheart” with “Sweetness.”

They are looking for the moment their body says “Yes. that’s it. That’s us. Let’s curl up with that one.” Many of them know they’ve found their term of endearment when tears well in their eyes.

I’ve heard it all, from "My Love" to "Darling" or "Pumpkin." From "Cookie" to "Sarah-Loo" or "Babygirl."

There’s a name for everyone that calls us home.

Once they’ve got it, we go around the room and share. As we move from feeling our patterns of self-abuse to the healing that comes from self-kindness, the women I work with change right before my eyes. It’s a pretty remarkable thing to watch. They change and the room changes. What had been a circle of sadness, grief, and angst becomes one of delight, compassion, and understanding.

Having a name, rooted in love, to call ourselves gives us a foothold. When we’re in pain or feeling disconnected all we need to is reach for this name and it brings us back. It's a name that embraces us.

Having a term of endearment for ourselves helps to build safety and intimacy in the most important relationship we’ll ever have: us with ourselves. me with me. you with you.

If you want to experience the power of this practice, next time you catch yourself with a self-directed whip in your hand, next time you’re body is contracted from shame or insecurity, go find a mirror and greet yourself.

Look into your own eyes and call out the name that only means “I love you. Yes, you. I love you”