“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better, don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills, don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.” – Jim Rohn
From a young age I felt lonely. And I realized that if I was going to be with myself all the time, I would have to work to be as interesting as possible. It wasn’t until later that I would discover that I needed to work to not just intellectually or even comically enjoy my own character, but that I had to learn how to love myself. This would open me up to being able to receive the love of others.
Spoiler alert; it is a work in progress.
People talk a lot about building relationships as humans who are, in fact, pack animals. While this is true, and when you consciously accept this and actively work to adapt, you may feel less lonely—especially if you stop living by the “lone-wolf” mentality. However, something more powerful and less talked about is the love and the relationship we nurture within ourselves.
Yes, our external relationships matter, but only if you view yourself as worthy to start with.
You can only accept a compliment to the extent of which you believe it yourself. Otherwise you’re trying to fill a tank that has a hole in the bottom. People may shower you with compliments, praise you and even offer deep gratitude, but if you aren’t open to receiving, it will not register.
Lack of self-love also blocks people from fully loving us—we ultimately want to love and be loved. Yet many people do feel as though they give more than they receive. The tricky thing is when partners are asked about it, each feels they are going above and beyond to show their affections towards their mates. Even when the mate doesn’t agree.
I’ve had many deep conversations with people over the years, and have philosophically returned to the same point when analyzing our perceptions of love, both giving and receiving. It boils down to self-love and our sense of self.
Allow me to share a story…I spent the better part of my life avoiding pregnancy for many reasons, but to keep a long story short, it wasn’t until I felt like I was “enough” did I welcome into the world a son that I birthed. I dodged the age-old question for any young female: “When are you going to have kids?” And often I replied with, “I’m not sure that I will.” I was on the fence, but it boiled down to my worthiness.
Not only in these motherly roles does this show up in our lives, but also in our careers, being the “man of the house” or the caregiver to your aging parents, who we are as friends (especially as significant others) and any place we seek external validation, love and admiration—even from our pets. It all has to do with how we view ourselves throughout the different stages of our lives; the hats we wear.
I will tell you that our body image is under this umbrella, but it’s a practice of its own. I spent 30+ years learning to love my body, and post-pregnancy, I sometimes feel like I’m back at square one. In reality, I’m not, but it certainly is a relearning and it’s a part of the whole. We have to view ourselves as whole beings and not fragments.
We are actively merging these “selves” into a cohesive identity that we love; that others may love, and so that when we are so full of love, we can give but we cannot give what we do not have.
I was at a point in my personal journey of healing and conscious development where I finally reached a place that got to the root of my postponement in having a child. I finally felt worthy. I felt like I was enough and truly believed that all my fears were actually less likely to happen. I was “ready-ish.” I say ready-ish because it was a “come-to-me” sort of situation, as in, I wasn’t forcing my way there. Sure enough, within a short period of time, baby Gavin made his presence known.
Why do I share this intimate story with you? To show that even despite past experiences and worries weighing on you, we do have ownership over the choices we make and the beliefs we form. And that through (not around, or half way there but the whole way through) the process of loving ourselves comes the most unmeasurable amounts of sheer joy that one can ever experience—even if they had no idea they would enjoy it so much.
My story about Gavin is just one of many reflections that the love we have for ourselves is manifested in our reality. The love and the relationship we have with ourselves is expressed through the ways our partners are taught to love us, the ways our colleagues treat us and how complete strangers interact with us. People learn what acceptable behavior is by not just what we choose to accept from them, but rather, what we choose to accept from ourselves.
Think about this: Studies show that our thoughts are 98% repetitive and 50% negative. So I ask you, what if your internal monolog (the way you speak to your yourself) is the same as how you speak to your friends? How close do you think you’d be with that friend? Using this premise and recognizing that many times we can be our own worst enemy, we may not have the greatest relationship with ourselves, if this is the case.
It behooves us to begin becoming more mindful about our thoughts, feelings and the relationship we have with ourselves, monitoring our egos at first to simply become aware of what thoughts and beliefs are present. Then, gently shifting even just the slightest into a more positive, loving energy just as we would with any other friend we offer understanding and compassion to. We should be gifting ourselves as much grace and praise as we do others.
For ages, wisdom has taught us that the way we treat others is often a reflection of how we view ourselves, and what is showing up in our reality time and time again is a reflection of our internal environment. Perhaps you’ve heard this before, so let this serve as a reminder. Or if this is the first time you are hearing it and you are as shocked as I was when I first learned of this principle, let this be your wake-up call.
This is my challenge to you as we turn the page in the new year: Begin a practice, set your intentions, provide yourself reminders and revisit the practice with the simple goal being “more often than not.”
Ponder, meditate and journal on these concepts that I have shared with you. Take inventory of where you are now, what your current beliefs are and recognize the relationship you have with yourself. Begin closing the small gap of who you are and who you want to be, acknowledging the depth of your love, worthiness and wellbeing.
What are the conversations being had? Explore how your views of yourself affect you. Determine whether your beliefs and depths of love serve you or disempower you. When fear arises, challenge your thoughts to shift into “love over fear.” When you uncover a disempowering pattern of thoughts, rewrite the story.
Simply become aware of the many areas of your life, thoughts, behaviors and emotions where this relationship with yourself impacts your reality that you create for yourself. Sink into the ownership and empowerment that comes with that belief. Live from that space.
Is your self-love allowing you to be open and receive? Or is it blocking more love? Is it potentially fueling conflicts? Or, even worse, perpetuating cycles of pain in yourself or others?
Remember, loving ourselves opens up the channels to receive more love from others. Learning to love ourselves is a process and may require some healing from past experiences. Changes can occur and we may have to relearn the practice to love the person we are.
I recall a moment during my training as a life coach, when one of my instructors asked me, “Do you have enough proof yet?” I was taken off guard. She could see something I wasn’t outwardly expressing but she intuitively picked up on it.
What proof was she talking about? That I could help people and that I possessed the exceptional abilities that life-coaching required.
That question stuck with me ever since. I apply it in moments when my sense of “enough” is called into question. I even wrote it on the dry erase board in my office as a reminder when I am doubting myself. The question may have been posed by her, but it’s for me to answer. We all have our answers, sometimes they are just hidden.
I choose not to stay in that darkened space for too long and to have tactics, like the ones I shared with you, to get back on track. I invite you to do the same. +