Learning to love yourself is for most people a life-long journey, with ups and downs. For some it might be a very conscious one, for others they might be totally oblivious to the fact. Let’s have a look at what’s happening on the path to self-love.
Born to be loved
Most of us have been born into the arms of doting parents, being loved and cuddled as a baby whose needs were highly attended to. When we grow up and become more independent, the attention shifts and individualization brings multiple changes and challenges to the primary relationship between parent and child/teenager.
Love for self being strained
Then there comes the time when a child understands what others are saying and reacts with hurt or similar feelings when another child or their own parent says unpleasant things. Is it then when we start to lose the unquestionable love and acceptance we had for ourselves?
Especially during teenage years when we start to socialize more outside the primary family relationship and build intimate relationships with our peers, we are extremely vulnerable to the opinions of others. In the process of building up a self-image we take on what we hear from outside and build it into the picture we have of ourselves and the world around us. Messages from the news and magazines add to this confusion: Either we are too fat, too thin, not clever enough, unimportant, too loud, not loud enough, too small, too big, too pale etc.
The spectrum of self-love
Loving one’s self can range from being totally narcissistic to having no confidence and self-love. Many of us will have heard messages of parents and/or other influential people trying to steer us away from becoming too self obsessed or narcissistic. But how about adequate, meaningful messages that would build up a healthy self-image where self-love could reside?
The journey of learning to love yourself
In the end it’s our own journey to re-install the self-love that we have lost along the way. Maybe it is part of our purpose in life to reignite the love and go through whatever is part of this quest. Many physical illnesses have on a metaphysical level something to do with ‘lack of self-love’. Popular self-help books teach you to stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself: ‘I love myself’ or ‘I am beautiful.’ For someone not used to think favorably about one’s self this probably sounds very strange or even ridiculous.
- How much do I really love myself the way I am?
- In what ways would I like to be different?
- When do I ever smile at myself and my ‘being’ (rather than my achievements)?
- How accepting am I of my flaws?
- How often do I speak unfavorably of myself?
The answer to these questions will give you a picture of your level of self-love. Now think about how much you love your pet, your child, and your partner? Do you love and accept them more than you love yourself? I bet they are not absolutely perfect either. So why are you so much harsher with yourself?
Maybe now it’s time to start loving yourself – whatever way you choose to do this.