04/14/2014 03:55 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2014

How to Be Your Own Prince Charming

Julia Davila-Lampe via Getty Images

As a child, I loved fairy tales -- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. What I loved about them was that at the end, each princess found her Prince Charming. That, I thought as a young girl, is what I need. A handsome prince on a white steed, riding in to save me (from what, I wasn't sure). I was a girl, you see, and I believed I needed my prince to complete me.

The more I talk to women my age -- 40, if you must know -- the more I realize that most of us were raised with this ideal that someday, our prince would come and save us. And so, dutifully, we looked, hoped, waited, and we may have even thought we'd found him for a while. But, we never did, because he turned out to be an alcoholic, self-absorbed or abusive. So we'd pick ourselves up and resume our search, hoping that this time we'd find our prince, only to attract a man who wanted a mother instead of a wife, a man who was jealous of our children, a man who was looking for us to save him rather than the other way around.

And at some point, we gave up, accepted our lot in life, accepted that there was no prince, that if he existed, he was busily off saving someone else. Not us. Never us.

Until we woke up and realized something: The only person that could truly "save" us was ourselves. Because, whatever hell we needed saving from was one we had knowingly or unknowingly created. If we wanted our Prince Charming to save us, we need look no further than in the mirror.

Who is this Prince Charming anyway? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Ever pondered who you've been waiting for all your life? I'm not talking about what your fictional prince would look like or how often he would bring you flowers or chocolate, but rather, what he would actually be like, who he is as a person.

My prince would be loyal and kind, treat me with respect, love me unconditionally, value me before others in his life, listen to me and care about what I have to say. He would make me smile on a regular basis, be supportive and emotionally there for me and help me grow as a person. (I'm pretty sure I just described my dog!)

Then I realized something. The first person that the laundry list of Prince Charming traits should describe is me. I need to be able to look in the mirror and see that I am kind and loyal to myself. That I love me unconditionally and don't berate myself every time I make a mistake. That I value myself before others, and act like a woman of worth instead of a doormat. That I listen to my own inner wisdom, and make choices that are in line with what's best for me. That I find pleasure in the little things and am fully responsible for my own happiness. That I am my own best friend, supporter and number one cheerleader. That I freely express my own emotions to myself and others, and stop suppressing them to make other people happy or because I think it's "wrong" to feel a certain way. That I allow me to grow as a person, and I actively try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

Ladies, it's time to be your own Prince Charming. Time to be your biggest supporter and best friend -- or whatever else might be on your list of Prince Charming traits. Time to stop waiting for someone else to save you and deconstruct the walls of your self-made prison yourself.

Besides, as a good friend pointed out to me the other day, Prince Charming was never there when the princess needed him. He always showed up at the end of the fairytale, after the self-sufficient princess had already solved her own problems!

And, of course, if you want to buy yourself flowers and chocolate along the way, then by all means, go ahead. The moral of this fairy tale is that instead of singing, "someday my prince will come," try singing, "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to be my own prince I go!"