I saw a meme today that read, “Stop telling people that no one will love them until they love themselves. Stop planting the idea in people’s brains that they are unworthy of love because of their own personal struggle.”
I think that sometimes our message of self-love must be misunderstood. It's not that no one will love someone that doesn't love themselves. I think what most people mean is that, it is easier to attract healthy, well balanced and loving relationships when you love yourself first.
When someone does not love themselves, they become too dependent on the love of others, they will often attract people who prey on those with low self-respect, and they are not able to fully express their love for others because it gets clouded by the negative feelings they have for themselves. This does not make a person unlovable. In fact, many lonely people that are convinced no one loves them, are quite loved, they are just closed off to the emotion and unable to perceive it in others. Sometimes they project their own disdain for themselves onto the people around them. This may push away people who genuinely care but are left feeling that the love they give is unappreciated.
When we have a healthy love for ourselves, the love we have for ourselves sustains us while the love of others is a wonderful experience that we can enjoy without attachment. Our strength in our love for ourselves can keep predatory people away. They tend to look for targets who are vulnerable and easy to manipulate and when we love ourselves, we just aren’t as vulnerable to them. When we love ourselves, that love fills us and radiates from us, touching the people we come in contact with.
Now, I know that self-love is one of those things than can be much easier said than done for a lot of people. A lot of us have had life experiences that led us to believe we are unworthy of love. If we don’t believe we deserve to be loved, that makes loving ourselves a very hard thing to do. The following are some steps to take to help get yourself to a place where self-love is possible if it is something you find yourself struggling with.
1. Positive self-talk. Many of us spend our days berating and criticizing ourselves. Whenever you catch yourself having negative thoughts about yourself, replace them with positive ones. For example, if you think to yourself, “I always do everything wrong,” replace that with, “even when I make a mistake, I keep trying. I am strong and I will succeed.” At first it may feel like you are kidding yourself, but the thoughts we focus on the most shape our beliefs, and eventually the positive self-talk will become easier and easier to believe. With practice it becomes a healthy self-love habit.
2. Care for yourself as you would your child. We never stop needing parenting, we just get to a point in life where we should be capable of parenting ourselves. Give yourself the kind of nurturing and guidance you would expect from a great parent. Even if you didn’t have a great parent to model that behavior for you, you can still learn to do this for yourself. Try reading parenting books and applying the advice to yourself. Treat yourself in the way you always wished to be treated as a child. Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a little child you loved. Make sure you are well fed, cleaned, clothed, sheltered and educated. Make self-care a priority. It is not selfish!
3. Date yourself. This is one of my favorite recommendations (just ask my friends, they’ve all heard it). When I was struggling to learn to love myself this was one of the best things I did for myself and I credit it with having a great deal to do with the happiness I have today. Take yourself out to all the places you would like to go. Get to know yourself and what you like and don’t like. Buy yourself thoughtful and loving gifts. Give yourself compliments. Gaze upon your reflection in the mirror with loving eyes. Touch your body gently with love and affection and get to know yourself intimately. This helps you define and experience what you really want and gets you into vibration with it so that you can attract more of it into your life from others.
You are lovable. You deserve to give and receive love. You deserve happiness and contentment. Realize this. Realize that you don’t have to wait to find someone else to get there. You are capable of loving yourself and when you love yourself, you attract more love into your life.