What does it really take to love yourself?
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
So it's time to get real!
Can I tell you a secret?
There is something that has been difficult for me to admit and difficult for me to work on, but once I did, it transformed the way I experienced my life.
So here it goes...
I have always had a really hard time with self love.
It always made me feel uncomfortable and selfish to be honest.
And for me selfishness is the worst quality to have.
If feels like the unforgivable sin!
As a result for years I never spent any time on self care or anything that was for myself.
Instead I prided myself on putting others and their needs first, but do you want to know the truth - I was miserable!
It took me a long time, but guess what?
I finally figured out that there were two very important things that I hadn't understood about self love.
The first thing I hadn't understood was exactly what self love was.
We are often under the impression that self love is bubble baths, massages or weekends away and although those things are nice, they are definitely NOT the things that will make a lasting change or effect the way you feel about yourself long term.
The self love that really effects the way you feel about yourself goes much deeper.
Real self love is about accepting your opinions as valid.
It's about taking the time to know, be clear on, and respect your own boundaries.
It's abut understanding that your flaws are an important part of who you are and not a part of yourself to hate.
Real self love is about throwing yourself into your passions and getting excited about your unique abilities as well as accepting the things you can't do.
It's about seeing all the parts of ourselves, the beautiful and the not so beautiful and accepting and appreciating it all.
Self love is not about going somewhere separate from our daily lives to fill us up, it's about THE WAY we live our daily lives!
The second thing I learned is that when we are not taking care of ourselves, we tend to have the hidden expectation that others should take of us and how we feel.
We end up spending our time looking for who will validate us, who show love to us, who would make us fee good about ourselves.
How do you know if you have these hidden expectations?
If you have ever had the thought "They had better appreciate this!" Or "They never even noticed what I did for them" then you have had hidden expectations about the love you thought you deserved in return for the "love" you "gave".
But we all know love given with expectations like that is not really love is it?
So expecting others to take care of our self love needs is an extreme amount of pressure to put on the people we love!
It puts the work of making us feel good about ourselves squarely on their shoulders.
Relationships under that type of pressure are bound to have some problems.
When you think well of, value and love yourself you take the pressure off of others to affirm you!
When I began to realize this I woke up to a reality I had been trying to do everything to avoid.
I woke up to the reality that I was selfish!
By NOT taking care of and loving myself and therefore unconsciously expecting others to take care of me, I had actually reached the height of selfishness!
It also put me in the cycle of thinking I should always be doing things for others, and then being resentful about it, especially because no one could seem to take care of my needs.
And there is a good reason I felt like no one could take care of my needs, because taking care of our needs is always our own responsibility!
There is a reason it's called SELF LOVE!
Because the only one that can love us that way is OURSELVES!
It will never be enough fr others to tell us we are loved and worthy, there is a part of us that craves to hear it from ourselves.
And so I had completely deceived myself about why I cared for others, from the outside I looked like a loving friend, wife and mother, the real reason was because I wanted others to love me, not because I had so much love for others.
I can't tell you how devastating it was to realize this, how it shook me to my very core.
And it took me a long time to figure out what to do about it.
But as I look back on the experience now I am so thankful!
The lessons I learned are so valuable and I hold on to and cherish each and every one.
The lessons I learned about self love changed everything inside of me, which in turn changed how I loved other people!
It all begins with self love!
It's the foundation to everything else you will ever do, and it's the foundation to the love you have for everyone else!
You can only be truly free to love others once you have loved yourself.
If you act out of love for others but there is even a hint of those hidden expectations then it's not love!
Instead it's using manipulation to get love for yourself!
So try something that maybe sounds crazy!
Something that feels weird to even say, and that we, especially as women, have been told is a terrible way to live.
Try loving yourself first.
Try loving your own opinions and believing that they are valid.
Try respecting your own boundaries and being clear on what you need.
Try understanding your flaws and see how they make you unique and interesting.
Try throwing yourself into your passions and watch the way the people around you respond as you live lite up!
Try loving all of you, the beautiful and the not so beautiful!
Try real self love!
And let the people around you off the hook.
Self love is self love for a reason - because it needs to be you that loves you!
And see what happens!
You may find yourself with more energy, with more joy and with a larger ability to show love to others!
In fact you may find yourself like I did, really loving for the first time!