Love is such a big word and can mean so many different things to different people. There is also many kinds of love. There's the romantic kind, the family, the friend kinds, compassionate love for all living things. You can also love things you do and you can also love your very own self. But what does it mean, though, to love one's own self? How do you feel about self love? What do you think of when you hear the word 'love to self'?
Before we get to the self love, let's think about love itself for a moment. We need love, in general, and we want love. We want to be loved by our family, our friends, and also that
special someone and maybe more. In fact, we don't want anyone to hate us even when we know that there are haters out there who are ready to hate anything and anyone even before they know you. Some of us are lucky enough to receive a lot of love throughout the life time. Some are not so lucky. Some may receive unhealthy and toxic love, which brings up the question what is love really? If love is something beautiful and everybody needs it, then how can it be toxic? How can it be unhealthy? And can we change that?
I'm quite sure you have heard of or even experienced toxic love or toxic relationship. But what makes it toxic is not the love, in my opinion, it's how people behave. If a happy and healthy person with healthy self-esteem loves someone, the object of his or her love would also receive the rather healthy kind of love. Compare this with a person with low self-esteem who believe, on some level, that they are not worthy or not good enough, this person will most likely fear that his or her partner will leave for someone better, forgetting that the partner in question has chosen to be with them, and not anyone else, in the first place. When there is fear involved, people can behave in the strangest ways. One of the ways some people react when this happens is they become jealous. Jealousy can cause a lot of problems and this is one of the reasons why so many relationships are toxic. Jealous people can be quite controlling and energetically suffocating. They eventually cause what they fear the most, the breakup, the abandonment, by fueling their fear and acting upon it and out of it.
I'm not saying jealousy equals low self-esteem. Jealousy can stem from the other partner's history of unfaithful behavior in the romantic relationship, too. Jealousy is found not only in
romantic relationships, it can also be found elsewhere. Think of children who fuss and get jealous if their parent(s) divide their attention to someone else, fortunately, most of them learn to be able to share their parents' attention and love later on. But what happens if a child constantly feels he or she does not receive enough 'love'? Children who feel this way can grow up to be very demanding because they need others to prove to them all the time that they are loved. They can be very controlling and demanding that it becomes tiring for the other party involved and this is when relationship becomes toxic. Or these children can grow up to always try to 'earn' love. People who always have to 'earn' love also seek love from others, but instead of the constant demands, they try to be good, they bend until they break. They might not know what keeping healthy boundaries is. They continue to please others until they, themselves, are depleted of energy, until they have nothing left to give. This can be damaging to them because they often attract people who abuse their kindness.
Let's say, for example, that A is kind and loving, but has no healthy boundaries, always gives and hopes to receive love. A is in a relationship with B, now B knows that A would do anything for 'love', so B can demand practically anything, B's love is conditional, B gives love if A does what he or she wants A to do. B is egotistic. B definitely loves himself (or herself) but if the whole universe evolves around him and him alone then he's causing himself a problem, too. When you're in a relationship of any kind there has to be giving and receiving. It's a two-way street. But let's save the topic of 'relationships of all sorts' for later. Let's go back to our topic of discussion 'love'. So basically there has to be a balance on all levels if we are to avoid pain concerning the issue of love, no balance with the self, you either cause pain to yourself or your partner, no balance in giving and receiving, one of the party might feel drain of energy. And in order to keep the balance and not deplete yourself of your own energy, you need to be filled up, too!
This brings us to the next issue, 'egotism'. A lot of nice people don't want to be egotistic. They don't want to hurt other people because they understand the pain, these are loving and kind souls. And I agree with them! However, you can love yourself without being egotistic. Let's go back to the A and B example above, B is definitely egotistic and though he (or she) loves himself, but he/she does not give, which destroys the balance, and that can create a problem. A only looks for love from outside and tries to please others and ends up depleting him or herself of energy. What if A loved him or herself a little bit and put some healthy boundaries around so that he or she is not pushed around by others all the time? What if instead of looking for love from outside like most of us do, we look for it from within? What if we care for ourselves as we would a child or a pet? What if we can fill ourselves up so that we can give unconditionally and prevent ourselves from feeling drained? Because in the end, if the void is inside of us, no one else can fill it. A jealous and demanding partner will never find that moment of 'now I've received enough love so I can trust more' unless they learn to work on that void inside of them.
If you have no clear boundaries, people can easily take advantage of you. Sometimes, they might not intend to but when they see that you never say no, think it's ok to ask. Many don't get offended if you say no, they might be more understanding than you think, but since you
always give, people think you are ok with giving so you end up giving endlessly. There are, of course, those who look for people to take advantage of, and those are the ones that might demand things from you without giving anything in return, and this is where you really need your boundaries. You can help, up to a point, and when it becomes too much, you need to think of yourself, too. You need to take care of yourself, too, because no one else will replace you. You are unique, with your own qualities and life experience, your own purpose, and no one else can be you for you. If you have no energy left even for yourself, you won't have any for anyone else. Think about it this way, the healthy and happy you can probably carry out tasks better and do more than the ill and unhappy version of you, don't you agree?
Besides, the energy you give out is the energy you will attract. You might argue that you give love so you should attract more love. From what I see, it also depends on where you do it from. If you give love and care to people around you, you're happy to do so and totally happy doing it and you're not surrounded by narcissistic people, then they will definitely love you back. If you try to please people and give 'love' in order to earn love and you show no love for yourself, are you really giving love or are you saying that everyone else is worthy of love but not you, so you direct love towards everyone else and you never receive it? If you give love to a narcissist, well, here you're dealing with someone whose judgement is likely to be clouded by their mental or emotional issue, and you shouldn't put yourself in harm's way because a narcissist might not treat you very well, to say the least. Just like you don't give a weapon to a crazy person, you don't give someone with mental issues and tendency to become violent the chance to beat you, you can and should remove yourself from that situation. Also, have you noticed that when a woman is totally happy, especially when she gets into a relationship, suddenly a few other people also become more interested in her and when she's unhappy after a breakup it's hard to find a new date? (I'm not sure about men but I've seen this a lot in women.) It's not about the relationship status, it's the state of mind. When you are happy and you feel loved, you attract more of it, but when you are unhappy, and unloved, you repel it. It's as simple as that.
So if you can just be happy, for yourself, it doesn't matter where you go, you will be happy. If you have the healthy love for yourself, you will also see and feel more love aro
und you. When you find the love for yourself, there is no more hole to fill and the relationship suffers less, you suffer less. When you give love to yourself, you are giving strength to yourself at the same time. When you are happier, you are likely to become healthier, unlike when you're sad and depressed and eventually you become sick from that. When you are happier (and healthier) you can do more and be more. You can inspire others. You can even help others better. There is no need to continue the cycle of suffer and unhappiness when you can break it. Become happier and show others that they, too, can do it. Give yourself that love that you deserve, that love that you can find from with in!
*For more tips and suggestions on what you could do to show yourself the love and care, you can listen to my podcast episode on Self Love here! If you need more help, guidance, coaching and healing, book a session by contacting us directly!