As RuPaul states: “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Throughout my experience in the romance and love department in all my years, the one thing that I have come to realize is that you will never find someone who will treat you the way you want to be treated, until you treat YOURSELF the way you want to be treated. We all go through toxic relationships with someone we think is the “ONE” on our journey to finding the right one. Some people will eventually find that person that makes them feel happy, comfortable, and secure. Some won’t. Some people will settle, out of loneliness, fear, or need. We all make choices in our lives based on what we need at the moment and what our children and families need, but we shouldn’t sacrifice the most important love that we need: Self love.
Think for a moment how cruel we are to ourselves. Would we ever say the things we think about ourselves to another person? We all go through times where we don’t feel worthy, smart, or good enough. We tell our selves we are fat, ugly, stupid, or that we deserve to be treated badly for some reason. How often do you tell yourself how pretty, smart, or good enough you are? It seems cheesy to give ourselves these affirmations, but why? Don’t you deserve to decide for how to love yourself?
I believe we attract what we put out, so if we are putting out negative vibes about ourselves (especially if we truly believe them), then we are going to attract people who are going to take advantage of those feelings and give you just enough of themselves to make you feel a little better about yourself…at least sometimes. When you become aware of this happening, or you decide to start loving yourself and finding your value, your partner may try to bring you back down. If this happens, it is a toxic relationship and you should get out. If you are already in a place of negativity and you don’t have a partner, you shouldn’t try to find someone until you find joy in yourself. Having a partner isn’t going to automatically fix ANY thing in your life, much less your self esteem.
So how can you start loving yourself?
First, I suggest that you don’t use finding a partner in life as your motivation to start loving yourself. This is YOUR journey and your goal should never be about finding someone else. You might be surprised at the end of the journey that you will find the perfect person, or find that being alone is actually fulfilling enough for you. Society makes it seem that we NEED to find our soul mates in order to be happy, but why? Why do couples get more tax breaks and more rewards just because they are together? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being alone, especially when you enjoy your own company.
Second, you need to think about who you are? You wouldn’t fall in love with someone else without knowing about them and what makes them tick, right? So, you need to find out who you are. One way of doing this is journaling your feelings and exploring how you truly feel about your life. I, for example, have been focusing on my past and how I truly treated others and why I had made justifications for that behavior. It is hard to be real with yourself and dig into who you truly are, but it is worth the effort and the emotional response it might bring up. Maybe you have some trauma in your past that you need to deal with, maybe you have some goals that you haven’t fulfilled and you need to explore why. Think of all the negative things you tell yourself and figure out why you feel that way, and then start to accept who you are. You don’t need to make radical changes to yourself in order to love yourself. You just need to be aware of who you are and then accept that person.
The third thing I would tell you to do is look at your relationships and decide where you need boundaries. A lot of the times, we feel we have to put up with others mistreating us because they are family and we have no choice. But this is NOT true. Creating boundaries in your relationships can be really hard, especially if you haven’t done it before and people have expectations of your behavior. If we are around ANY one who makes us feel like less of the person we are, we should limit our exposure to those people. You don’t have to have a knock down, drag out fight with a person either. You can just slowly not be available for things or say “no” now and then and not feel bad about it. Once you are in a better place and know how you want to be treated, if you want to continue a relationship, then maybe you can have a conversation with that person to try to come to an understanding. At that point, you can decide if the relationship is worth it or if you should walk away. This step can be very hard. Once we stop letting others mistreat us, we can start taking power back and making our own choices. This will give you confidence and the worthiness to feel love.
Another step in learning how to love yourself is to be okay if someone doesn’t like you. As humans, we crave acceptance from others, that is just human nature. But in reality, no matter what we do, there will always be people who don’t like us. It could be because of something we do or did, or it could be because they can’t find happiness within themselves so they reflect those feelings onto you. Whatever the reason, that is THEIR reason, not yours. All you can do is be the best version of yourself you can be. Never let someone else’s feelings for you change the way you want to behave. If someone is jealous of what you have accomplished, do not downplay your successes to make them feel better, because if someone chooses not to like, they will never like you. To love yourself, you need to be proud of your accomplishments no matter what those around you say or try to make you feel. Your journey is yours alone and it does you no good to worry about other people liking you.
The final step to loving yourself is practice. You won’t just wake up one day saying “Okay, I love myself, now everything will fall into place.” Loving yourself, just like loving another, is a proactive exercise. Just like you shouldn’t get complacent in a relationship and take things for granted, you shouldn’t take yourself for granted. Every day you should find something to compliment yourself for. I, for example, tell myself what a great job I did after every exercise I accomplish, even if it wasn’t perfect, or I haven’t hit a goal. The fact that I cared enough about myself to take care of my body is enough for me to remind myself that I am worth it and that I did a great job. One thing I am still working on, however, is not downplaying myself when someone compliments me. I find it hard to respond to a compliment, and either make a joke or find something negative about myself to point out. It has taken me years to just say “Thank you,” and move on, and I struggle with it to this day. But that is okay. My anxiety will keep me thinking about my poor response longer than necessary, but I know that is okay, also, and that it is just a part of who I am. Being aware of what you need to work on and practicing self love every day is crucial in learning how to manage other relationships as well. Like I mentioned above, loving another takes the same practice and work as loving yourself does. It doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t come easy.
Start learning to enjoy your company. Find projects you like, watch the shows and movies you want, go out to eat alone and enjoy just watching other people. Take up the space and room you need for yourself and explore yourself, your likes and dislikes, the things you are willing and not willing to put up with. If you do decide to have a romantic relationship later on, you will find yourself with someone who appreciates the real you. You will know how you want to be loved and find someone who will love you that way. It isn’t fair to ask someone to love you when you don’t love yourself or know what you want and how you want to be treated.
So this Valentine’s Day, whether you are in a relationship or not, start looking inward and finding love with yourself. Tell yourself one thing you absolutely love about yourself. Commit to a journey of finding and loving yourself.
Let me know something you love about yourself. Don’t worry, it won’t come off as arrogant! Do you think you are worth loving yourself? Make sure to follow me on social media. Happy Valentine’s Day!