What if you are applying wrong ways to love yourself, which turned out to be the cause of your misery?
Do you have a picture-perfect life that looks good on paper? A good house, great job, nice partner, and still feel empty inside. Do you feel there is an inner void, an empty space, a longing in your heart that is not satisfied, no matter what you do or get in life?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you have been trying to get happiness by changing your external circumstances: the partner, the house, the job, your external appearance without getting in touch with your true self.
Your core, your real self, the infinite, pure and eternal being that you are.
Once you get in touch with this dimension of you, you cannot help but stand in awe of who you are and love yourself unapologetically.
I am not talking about self-love in narcissistic ways but I am referring to healthy self-love without which no matter what you get or do in life, you will feel incomplete.
There is a difference between feeling good about ourselves all the time outwardly (even at the expense of others), which is Narcissism, and knowing we are lovable and valuable, which is healthy self-love.
When we know we are valuable, we have a solid and secure sense of self and are comfortable in our own skin.
We do not go running seeking external validation and our interactions are not based on what we can extract from others or how we get our Narcissistic fix.
When we love ourselves and know we are valuable, we are happy and peaceful inside and we move through life with a wide open heart, sharing our love abundantly with whoever comes in contact with us.
Our life becomes an expression of our inner peace and happiness instead of a frantic pursuit of happiness from external events and running after our next fix to fill our perceived inner void.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek mythology, and all spiritual philosophies, point to loving ourselves, not in Narcissistic ways but in the form of healthy self-love which means honoring the essence of which we really are.
While we all know how important self-love is to lead happy lives, why do so many people struggle with self-love?
There are wrong ways to love yourself. I am sharing with you the top three misguided approaches that stop people from loving themselves.
There approaches are flawed because even if they may seem like self-love on the surface but if you dig deeper, you will see that they are only a way to seek love and validation from outside instead of going to the source of love, which is inside:
1) Spending money on things to feel more deserving
This is one of the most common wrong ways to love yourself.
Loving yourself doesn’t necessarily mean going for expensive spas or massages or expensive dinners.
It does not mean buying expensive clothes or gadgets to make you feel more deserving.
People engage in getting things as momentary fixes to make them feel better about themselves and their lives but internally they feel unlovable and unworthy.
“Your problem is you’re … too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”- Ram Dass
These fixes don’t work because they are momentary and they cannot fill the internal void that you feel due to not knowing and loving who you are at the core.
Loving yourself means accepting and embracing yourself in entirety, the good, the bad and the ugly.
It means acknowledging that you are human and even if you have flaws or imperfections, you are still valuable and lovable due to your essence that is divine.
2) Doing things for others so that they think you’re a good person
Do you do things for people and say yes even when you don’t have the time or inclination to do those things only because you don’t want to disappoint people?
This typical people pleasing behavior comes as a result of a lack of self-worth. You think that if you do enough things for people they will love you. But no matter what you do for them or how many times they say I love you to you, you will not feel loved because you are not being authentic to yourself.
Self-love means taking care of yourself and then extending love and support to your partner. You cannot fill from an empty cup. If you do not take care of your needs and keep on doing things for others, sooner or later you will feel resentment or bitterness.
If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself. – Barbara De Angelis
3) You are always on the lookout for that perfect relationship.
Do you think that once you find a partner, you will feel happy, complete and fulfilled?
Do you feel that someone can make you feel appreciated, valued and loved by praising you?
Have you tried this strategy? Has this worked?
I bet, it wouldn’t have, because it is a losing strategy.
You cannot look to someone else to make you feel whole.
If you don’t love or value yourself, then you won’t be able to accept love from someone else also.
Because deep down you believe that you are unworthy of love.
Ok, so now that we know that self-love is the prerequisite to living a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. So, how do we go about loving ourselves?
The good news is that loving ourselves, doesn’t require as much effort as convincing someone else to love us and it is much easier than emptying our pockets on expensive stuff.
Loving our self and having a solid and secure sense of self is way more powerful and lasting than hearing praises from someone or momentary thrills we get from buying expensive stuff.
Loving our self creates a foundation for living our best possible life.
When we love ourselves, we will only engage in authentic relationships and let go off toxic ones.
When we love ourselves, we will have the honesty and courage to be true to ourselves and face challenges with integrity.
When we love ourselves, our career blossoms because we show up to our purpose and contribute to the world unapologetically.
When we love ourselves, our health improves because we actually have the self-discipline and self-respect to practice healthy habits on a daily basis.
Now that you know the wrong ways to love yourself. now what?
How to love ourselves right?
Self-love begins with self-awareness.
We cannot love something that we do not know.
So, in order to start loving yourself, the first step is to get to know you.
Get to know yourself thoroughly and then embrace everything that shows up with loving kindness.
Make a list of all your traits, the good and the ones that are not so good.
Read out this list loudly and then place your hand on your heart, repeat this affirmation,” I am strong; I am weak. I am flawed; I am broken. I am vulnerable. I am human. And despite these flaws, I give myself permission to love myself unconditionally. I am a growing, evolving being, who uses past mistakes as a fuel for my journey of growth. I accept myself as I am, and I set an intention to become the person I want to be.” – Melanie Greenberg
Spend time in meditation and contemplation and become aware of the patterns in your life. Become aware of any pain that is stuck inside and embraces that with loving-kindness. The more you learn to accept yourself fully with love and kindness, the more you will be able to love others with love and compassion.
Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home. – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Are you ready to quit the wrong ways to love yourself?