If you were to look at all of the emotional deficiencies in yourself, your life, and the other people around you – there’s one common theme; indeed, it’s so common that it’s almost accepted as being “normal” rather than treated as the emotional epidemic it is… and that’s the area of self love.
In some ways, you could view self-love to be the same as self-esteem though self-esteem tends to be more about how competent we feel we are and how much we value the impact and contribution we make. Self love, on the other hand, is more about self-acceptance and loving ourselves for all that we are.
The truth is that nobody can ever truly love you until you truly love you. Life acts somewhat like a mirror and reflects back to you your innermost thoughts; as an example, if you feel unlovable then you’ll find people that support that view and reaffirm this back to you. There is a strong evidence base within psychology and metaphysics to suggest that what we think about we bring about – and our external reality is being created by our inner thoughts… in essence, we are an energetic magnet where like attracts like.
For some people, this is an easy concept to grasp that just makes sense as being obvious but for others it can presuppose a sense of fate or lack of free will, which is not what this theory suggests. Think of it this way, if a person is in an abusive relationship or just with someone that brings them down and doesn’t fill them with joy – this person, internally, must feel on some level that they aren’t deserving of joy; because otherwise they would just get up and leave. The reason they remain in that situation is often because they don’t feel deserving, or good enough in themselves, to leave a situation that doesn’t serve them and move forward with their lives in more fulfilling direction. Similarly, a strong and confident woman that loves and approves of herself is unlikely to attract a man that will devalue or be abusive toward her in the first place, because the frequency at which she is operating at wouldn’t be magnetically attractive to an abusive man – because like attracts like.
All too often, we think that by loving another person we will somehow be filled up by their reciprocation of love; yet we often find this not to be the case. John Gray, in his book Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus talks about how when we look for someone else to “fill us up” we are often disappointed – and it can, at times, feel like two thirsty people in the desert desperate for hydration if both people operate from a lack of self-love.
We can end up chasing people that don’t value us in an almost addictive need to get filled up with love, like a car running on fumes, desperate to have gas put in its tank. This chronic state of neediness comes from a place of low self-worth and low self-esteem where we are not able to value ourselves enough to feel comfortable; meaning we look to others in order to fill us up.
Ideally, for a healthy relationship to be abundant and joyous, the two people within that relationship will have filled themselves up with so much self-love that love starts flowing over the brim, meaning they have an abundance of love to give out freely to their partner and the world; rather than in a somewhat transactional sense of ‘give and take’. However, this state of self-love can be extremely difficult to accomplish – particularly if you’ve had a chaotic childhood or rocky romantic past. This article is going to provide some pointers, but before we get into the tips, it’s important we first define what self love is. Self love is your ability to know how to love yourself. See, when people begin to love themselves, their lives get better – they get better jobs, they have more money, and their relationships either improve or dissolve in order to allow new ones to begin.
Self love could be rephrased as self-acceptance; because when you accept yourself as you are right now, and love yourself just for being who you are – despite your flaws, your failures, your poor decisions, and quirky features… that’s when life truly begins to open up; but unfortunately, it sometimes takes a mid-life crisis or traumatic divorce to break us down, a bit like Humpty Dumpty falling off his wall; in order to allow us to build ourselves back together only stronger, this time around, with more of the glue that is self-love.
Louise Hay, one of the world’s leading experts in this area of self-love states:
“To me, love is a deep appreciation. When I talk about loving ourselves, I mean having a deep appreciation for who we are. We accept all the different parts of ourselves—our little peculiarities, the embarrassments, the things we may not do so well, and all the wonderful qualities, too.”
She goes on to explain that, many of us make loving ourselves conditional on something in the future – such as creating the rule-based restriction that we will not love ourselves until we lose weight, or get a better job, or drive a better car… we put external conditions on our internal sense of self-worth, which is what creates such unhappiness.
Here are five tips on how you can start loving yourself today:
STOP TRYING TO FILL THE VOID
We’re all guilty of distracting ourselves from time to time, but this level of distraction can become psychologically unhealthy such as when it turns into addictive tendencies. It’s very easy to chase after things, or people, in order to fill the void within – but the best way to fill that void is to simply accept it exists, honour the feelings you have around this, and look for nourishing ways to flesh out your own life rather than being dependent on a relationship or particularly aspect of your life (e.g. work or business) in order to prop you up emotionally.
STOP DOING THAT WHICH HURTS YOU
Think of the metaphor of having back pain; there’s normally a trigger that causes this pain – there are things that aggravate this physical pain and there are also things that soothe this physical pain; which is similar to emotional pain. Just like how your daily activities cause your back pain, such as sitting at a desk all day without stretching or picking up heavy items without bending your knees – there are daily activities you engage in on an emotional level that cause you emotional pain. Avoid these activities and stop doing that which hurts you.
TREAT YOURSELF WITH RESPECT
Often, in counselling sessions throughout the globe the idea of someone being treated without respect, consideration or dignity will come up. A lot of the time, when someone treats us without respect, as an example they cheat on you – we take this personally; as if their behaviour is a direct reflection on our value. Indeed, when we are treated without value by a person close to us we can feel like we have no value.
It’s understandable and normal to feel this way, but there are two points here – firstly their behavior reflects who they are, not who you are, or what you deserve… and secondly, in order for people to treat you with respect, dignity and consideration – you need to respect yourself. Unfortunately, without even meaning to, people will treat you without respect and consideration; the popular term “they’ll walk all over you if you let them” comes to mind. That’s not to say you have to be militant in the enforcement of your boundaries; it’s more that you must have a healthy level of self-respect in order for people to treat you with respect.
Remember, life has a mirror like quality to it, in that it reflects back to us what we feel on the inside. If you don’t respect yourself – expect others to reflect this back to you. Similarly, as soon as you start treating yourself with respect the people in your life will either adapt their behaviour to this or leave your life and make way for someone that can treat you with the respect, consideration and dignity you deserve.
GET RID OF NEGATIVE PEOPLE
We all have toxic people in our lives, it’s just a natural part of life, but there is scientific research that now proves energy rubs off – if you’re around negative people that have low self-esteem and don’t believe in themselves, how can you possibly expect them to believe in you. You’ve got to get around positive, nourishing and encouraging people that have the capacity to support you.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW
As Louise Hay says “If you are not willing to love yourself today, then you are not going to love yourself tomorrow, because whatever excuse you have today, you’ll still have tomorrow. Maybe you’ll have the same excuse 20 years from now, and even leave this lifetime holding on to the same excuse.”
In essence, the advice is to stop waiting for something to happen ‘out there’ before you love yourself – you can love and accept yourself today without making any pre-requisite condition. You are already deserving of love. You can start loving yourself right now, exactly as you are right now.