Love Yourself More
I’ve been sharing the hashtag “love yourself more” on some of my social media posts for a while. I find that many people struggle privately with the question of their “love-ability.” This often has to do with whether or not we are loved by someone else. It is such a big focus in life that I really want people to consider the value of loving themselves.
To me, #loveyourselfmore is a challenge to break that cycle. It is a challenge to the idea that your love-ability is only confirmed through validation from others. I am convinced that many people get in and maintain unhealthy relationships not merely because they don’t want to be alone or because they fear change… but also because of a deep seated need to prove to society that somebody loves them.
The Role of Validation
In our early childhood, middle years and adolescence…. validation from others is paramount. What I mean by validation is “I see you, I hear you, you matter.” As infants, the attention and responsiveness of those around us literally means life or death. In our middle and adolescent years, we are really learning how to interact socially and within the context of society. We learn the social graces that allow us to learn to be considerate of others…to develop friendship skills and to begin to form our romantic relationships.
As we grow older, we receive less validation from others. It seems that people are uncomfortable with giving and receiving attention, compliments and accolades. Some people may notice things they like or value in others and never tell them. Instead it is kept inside like a secret or something too impolite to share. Others appear embarrassed when someone acknowledges or compliments them. They may even be shocked at the acknowledgement. Some of us are suspicious of someone who is “too” friendly or complimentary.
In therapy, many clients distrust a clinician who “likes” them or compliments them. Convinced that – because we are paid for our work as therapists – we must be lying. The truth is that the client knows that no matter what others think about them, it matters most what they think about themselves. This is the work of adulthood.
What Does it Mean to Love Yourself?
For me it means the following:
- Do I actually “like me?”
- Who am I emotionally, intellectually, physically, socially and so on?
- Do I value myself?
- How do I respond when I believe I am being treated poorly by someone else?
When I am loving myself, I trust my emotions, my decision making. I take better care of the needs of my body, and I let myself be close to others. Additionally, I feel a sense of peacefulness even though life is far from perfect.
This peace comes from an acceptance of who I am in the moment…not in the future when things will be different or in the past when things were some other way.
Do You Like You?
- Do you like the way you are physically?
- Do you accept and have a value around the importance of your own emotions?
- Are you on a constant quest to change your body or to hide your real emotions?
- Do you think that your own fund of knowledge and intellect suit you well?
- Do you think you are capable?
- Do you believe that you have something to offer in social interactions?
- Do you think of yourself as someone that you would want to be around?
Sometimes people don’t know if they like themselves because they have avoided really paying attention to themselves. They may have focused most of their energy on what others think about them. Too much external focus on what others think of us can cripple us in adulthood.
In adulthood, we have to develop more of our ability for self reflection. We must go inward to know our true selves.
Many people get lost on the journey to self discovery and self acceptance because they fear disappointing others or upsetting the status quo. What if I find out I really don’t like x, y or z and I have to change me or my circumstances? What if others don’t like who I am and what I need and they either go away or I have to leave them?
No one wants to be rejected. It hurts. Many people also loathe rejecting others and will maintain a facade to avoid the truth.
Do I Value Myself?
What does it mean to value oneself? I think in many ways it has to do with what we believe we deserve.
- Do you believe that you deserve good things to happen in your life?
- Do you believe that you deserve loving and caring relationships?
- Do you believe that you deserve to feel safe… fiscally, physically and emotionally?
What happens if our lives don’t always seem to reflect what we believe we deserve? Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed by everything from their job and finances; to their physical appearance; to the lack of specific types of relationships in their life.
We can begin to devalue ourselves when we look at our lives and don’t find what we expected our lives to be. We imagine that other people are living the lives that we want and that if we were just “something enough” we could have that too. It can be very challenging for people to feel good about themselves when they believe that they have failed or when they believe that they don’t have what they want because it can only be given by someone else.
For some reason, we have come to believe that anything less than our ideal life is failure. This is wholly inaccurate. You are not a failure because of the bad or difficult things that have happened in your life.
One way to preserve a positive self concept is to not allow others to mistreat us and to not mistreat ourselves. If we love ourselves we will have low tolerance for people who purposely repeatedly mistreat us. Loving oneself involves a regard for self, affection for self, and approving of oneself. It is difficult to approve of our selves when we have ignored our essential need to feel respected and safe.
Self loathing is a byproduct of tolerating mistreatment or even a byproduct of abuse at an age when we could not defend ourselves or leave. Many people will cite love as the reason that they stayed in an unhealthy dynamic. Love is a deep and abiding affection. When we have truly loved someone we don’t abandon it readily. What I am saying is that loving oneself more is the way to remove oneself from any circumstance that devalues us.
I am saying: Cultivate a deep and abiding affection for yourself. Learn to like yourself so much that you won’t tolerate circumstances that make you lose touch with what you like and love about you.
Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.