February 14, 2011

The Importance of Self Love

by

No Greater Love

Love is an essential part of our growth. Without love, experts agree that our psyche is permanently damaged. Modern researchers look at this concept of love and wonder how it applies inwardly. Most research has been focused on the love we have for others.

Since Adam and Eve made googly eyes at one another in the Garden of Eden, the study of love has been focused on what it means to love other people. How we get to love other people. What it’s like if we are or are not loved.

But I’m starting to realize that many of the self-help guru’s and crazy new-age people from the 80s had it right when they started talking about self-love. That by loving ourselves we allow not only others to love us more fully but we are then able to love others without limitations or caveats.

As I’ve journeyed these past 40+ years I’ve been on a quest to find out what love really is. I know my mom loved me. And my grandparents too. They showed it in different ways though. And my brother loves me, although I think now that we’re older he more fully shares it. I have friends who love me too. Some with strings, others without. And I’ve always been so concerned with their love of me that I never really focused on my love for myself.

It seems that self-love would be innate. I don’t think it is. I think it’s learned. It’s developed and emulated based on surroundings. My mom was a single mom who battled health and weight issues. She was self-conscious about her weight but she loved herself and felt worthy of the love she was given. This is what I know now. I wish I had known and understood it when I was a teenager. When I could ask questions and talk openly about what it means to love yourself. Instead I though that if I looked a certain way or acted just right then I’d be loved or worthy of love. Little did I know that I was worthy of love simply by being born. It’s taken me a long time to realize this. Too long!

So here I am, a grown woman with a daughter and I’m supposed to help her frame love. When I’m not even sure what to tell her. Do I tell her that it doesn’t matter if other people love you as long as you love yourself? Or that people will love you if you love yourself? I’m not sure. Well, I’m not sure about what I’m supposed to be teaching her.

All I know is that I’ve discovered that self love is hard. I’m hyper critical of everything about myself. Hair, skin, clothes and all the outward things. And add to that all the inward issues of feeling inadequate, not smart enough, too smart, over qualified, a bad mom, a horrible friend, not funny and so many other negative things that fill my thoughts that won’t go away. Things that are often dismissed as just being part of the uber Type-A personality.

They’re not. They’re my thoughts about me that have been framed by the experiences of life. Other people’s opinions of me, my abilities and my personality. I’ve spent a very long time working to make other people love me that I lost sight of what the new-age, touchy-feeling, psycho-babble, self-help guru’s of the 1980s were saying all along.

Love yourself. The rest will grow from there!

On this Valentine’s Day as we tell others we love them, I urge you to look in the mirror as I will do and tell that person on the other side how wonderful and amazing and lovable they are. Just like on the plane when they give you the directions to secure your oxygen mask first and then others traveling with you. Love yourself first.

I am working on this. Some days are great, others it doesn’t matter how loudly or softly I say it I can’t hear the words. But I know I need to keep saying them. To keep working at loving myself first.

I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past a mirror. ~ Mary J. Blige

Sara

{ 3 comments }

Kim P. February 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

Sara, I believe every human deals with this issue. It’s just not easy to be yourself & love yourself. We all look in the mirror and find many flaws (both inwardly and outwardly). I find it easier to look at myself when I look around and focus on other people and see them for their greatness and not what’s wrong with them. But I believe that to some degree we (really, I mean me) have been programmed (or maybe conditioned) to notice what is wrong and not so much of what is right. One of the reasons I love you is that we can relate on so many topics. This is one. One day, I hope to look in the mirror and really love that person staring back at me….

Another really great post from you! Thank you.

Kelly@Childhood February 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

Wonderful post Sara! You are truly a good friend and in order to be friend… you have to love yourself. In a world of people with all sorts of different motives… it’s difficult to teach our children the concept of love without strings. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You’re lovely.

rhonda February 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

This is how I know we are sisters from another mother. : )
We both have this “issue” and are constantly working on it. I find it amazing that its taken me as long as it has to learn to love myself. I still don’t do very well most days, no matter what is said to me. But I keep working on it. I, too, know how important it is for my daughters to understand. Big Hugs!

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