In my therapy practice I have found that many clients consider it to be completely wrong and inappropriate to love themselves. They feel that would be arrogant, pretentious, high and mighty, stuck up, conceited, self-centred, egotistical or narcissistic. Narcissism in particular, with its inflated sense of self importance and lack of empathy seems to have given ‘self-love’ a bad name. Clients may say that it is not their job to love themselves, and they believe that it is for others to love them, or not, and by implication decree if they are loveable.
Here’s the interesting thing. When clients finally get rid of their emotional baggage, they uncover and reveal their true authentic selves, and they automatically discover a new respect, admiration and love for themselves. They accept themselves.
So the healthy, whole and healed person naturally feels and embraces self-love. It is the natural, normal, innate mindset of a healthy, balanced human being. And more than that, it is not just any love, it is unconditional love – the type of love a parent feels for their child. The baby comes into the world feeling part of and totally accepted by the mother. If all goes well, the baby feels and senses that they are unconditionally loved, in that they don’t have to be or do anything to earn that love. They know they are loveable just as they are. They are free to just be themselves.
Babies are not self conscious, they don’t worry about what they look like, whether they are pretty enough, if their legs are too chubby, or what people will think if they have soiled themselves, or if anybody minds if they demand feeding in the middle of the night.. they happily yell for what they want and expect to get it, because they are worth it. When children experience unconditional parental love, they feel and know that there is nothing that could take that love away from them, no matter what they do or say. They don’t feel that the love is conditional on being ‘good’. Of course, parents will correct unacceptable behaviour, but the love is not conditional on getting anything right.
Unfortunately, as life goes on, something can happen to that baby; a negative experience that causes them to conclude that they are not loveable after all. All manner of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs can be created instead, such as ‘I’m not enough’ or ‘no one cares about me’, which will certainly make life more difficult and place barriers in the way.
Charity should indeed begin at home in that the very first person that we need to take care of, validate, and nurture is – ourselves. That means accepting ourselves as loveable. When we unconditionally love ourselves, we are able to both give and receive love. The more love you give, the more love you can receive.
I believe that we are only able to love another to the extent that we love ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have. And those who have learnt self hatred are unable to let in the love offered to them. It has become so unfamiliar to them they may even dislike it, and they push it away.
Loving yourself first works much like the instructions given on the plane: you must fix your own oxygen mask first, before you can fix someone else’s. When you work on yourself to reactivate and remanifest your own self acceptance and self love, then you are in the best position to help, support and love those you care about.
It really makes perfect sense that you are meant to love yourself. To rely on others for a validation of your worth is giving your power away. You will only ever feel as good as the last person’s opinion of you, and you have given them the power to dictate and control the way you feel about yourself. Feeling loveable because someone else loves you can also come to an abrupt end!
No matter how hard you might try to find others to love you, you’ll always feel a lack of love if you don’t love yourself. Often clients are searching for someone outside of themselves to love them, make them feel loveable and complete them. But all the time the one person that could do that for them was looking back at them in the mirror. Look for the love inside yourself, you’ll find it.
The most important opinion about you is your own opinion, not someone else’s. It is up to you to accept yourself as loveable, know yourself as loveable, and feel able to give love and receive love. No one can do that for you.
It’s not that the more someone else loves you, the more loveable you feel. It’s the more you love yourself, the more love you attract into your life.
The purpose of life isn’t to look for love. It’s to delete all barriers that prevent you from loving yourself. Christine 💜