“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” —Eckhart Tolle
Loving yourself is an inside job.
Far too often, we trick ourselves into believing that “when I have this, I’ll feel better about myself. When they love me back, I’ll love myself too. When I get the car, the job, the salary, the partner, the ideal weight, I’ll love myself.” But it doesn’t work like that.
Most of us know the line, “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself.” Well, I completely disagree with this statement. First of all, who says? Always question your sources. Second of all, how many of you have struggled with self love and yet felt such raw and unrequited love for another person?
For the parents reading this post, ask yourself this: Are you unable to love your children when you feel as though you don’t love yourself? Does your love for them dwindle as you get tied up in your own shame and low self-worth?
I’m assuming your answer is no. You continue to love them unconditionally.
Let’s look at an individual with low self-worth, for example. He or she may love others strongly, too strongly perhaps, to the point where they put the other person on a pedestal and require their love and validation to feel okay about themselves.
How about the person who’s sitting in shame and self-loathing right now, but has an infinite amount of love for their parents, their siblings, their friends, their significant other, or an ex?
We may be able to love others if we don’t love ourselves, but we don’t know how to love healthily.
When I was in my 20s (I still am, by the way, but I’m nearing 30 now), I put so much of myself into my relationships. A part of me had always felt inherently flawed; that I was too much, too little, not enough, or excessively “difficult.”
I told myself I was difficult to date because I think and feel things deeply. Because I seek to dive below the surface to better conceptualize a person, situation, or life itself. I shamed myself for not being able to live on the surface of life, skimming the shallows, and not needing to explore the deep end like so many people I know.
I absolutely did not love myself. I didn’t have many reasons to; I was consistently lying, manipulating, and by no means cultivating self-esteem. I was seeking externally to fill internally. (Pro tip: to have self-esteem, start by doing esteemable things.)
I did, however, love the people I dated.
I don’t believe in looking back at our past selves and shaming them for not knowing enough or not feeling as intensely as we thought we were. Everything I felt back then was real. Everything I feel now is real.
I change, the lens through which I look at life changes, but the feelings stay as real as I believe them to be.
Here’s the kicker: I didn’t love myself, and therefore I was unable to accept love.
If we don’t love ourselves, we can actually still love others. If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot accept love from others. I’ve quoted this over and over in my posts, but this will always be my favorite line: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” –The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I can give love all I want, but I can’t accept it if, at my core, I don’t believe I’m worthy of it.
If I were to ask you if you love yourself right now in this very moment, how would you answer? No prefaces, no caveats, no BS details about why. Yes or no. Do you? If you don’t, what’s blocking you?