Confidence, self-esteem, self-compassion—there are many ways of referring to it, but when it comes to loving ourselves, many women have significant difficulties. In my clinical practice, I have found that self-doubting, criticizing, and even undermining is almost a given. While we all have a strong sense of self-preservation, literally the will to survive, a consistent sense of self-worth that helps us flourish is often absent.

One of the most enduring and helpful concepts in understanding how we sabotage ourselves is that of the unlit stove. I am thinking of a traditional, old-fashioned kitchen stove, with a pilot light. The pilot light, once lit, stays on, so when you need the burners, all you have to do is turn the handle.

If you have self-worth problems you have a stove whose pilot light won’t stay on. Instead of burning…

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