At the foundation of the love you can offer to others is the love you must first be willing to exhibit to yourself.
Let’s talk about self-love.
We hear a lot about the topic of self-love. The problem is that there are so many mixed messages about what it is and isn’t that I thought it was important to go back to the basics.
There is a balance to self-love. It is not only the ability to love yourself unconditionally but also a willingness to accept those self-truths that might be incredibly uncomfortable about you too. Let me explain further.
Have you been in relationships with family, friends, or even work peers, where you have continuously had problems that you blamed on others? Have you repeatedly failed to have a long-term sustainable relationship with someone else? Do you find yourself repeating similar unhealthy patterns in your relationships? Do you struggle to get along with others and find you just don’t fit in the majority of circumstances? I don’t mean getting along with everyone, because that is impossible. I’m talking about getting along with most people, even the easygoing ones.
While I’m all for individuality and freedom of self-expression, if this is a recurrent theme in your life where you see these scenarios playing out, I want you to pause and go through the following exercise with me.
1. Why Self-Love is Important
Self-love is a critical component to your well-being, and it’s vital. This love and deep respect you develop for yourself is the key to helping you navigate through unhealthy situations and scenarios. It allows you to lean into yourself for self-reliance when you can’t or don’t have access to this external support. And while it won’t ward off every unhealthy person from your life, what it will do is allow you to be strong enough to walk away or leave situations that you know will be damaging to you emotionally and mentally in the long-term.
2. How Self-Love Applies in Relationships
Self-love is allowing yourself to recognize where you fall short so you can self-correct.
Do you tend to want to be right at all costs? If so, recognizing the value and power in knowing when you are right but learning not to constantly throw that in the face of others is a delicate balance in a relationship. Believe it or not, others recognize when they are wrong, and often having them reach this conclusion by them dealing with the consequences can be more powerful and impactful versus you throwing it in their face.
There are times when it is warranted to call out bad behavior or behavior that is disrespectful to you. The key is to pause and reflect in the way you do so to make sure the situation and timing is appropriate so the feedback is well received. If you have someone humble enough to recognize when they fall short and are willing to express this to you, the focus doesn’t have to be on you being right. Instead, the focus should be on how you two learn from the mistakes you make with one another so you can strengthen your relationships and create better future experiences together. That shift in focus can make a big difference in growing together versus staying stagnant and exercising self-love within your relationship with someone else.
3. Self-Love = Self-Accountability
Self-love and self-accountability go hand in hand. Let me share an example. Today it is prominent to see across people’s social media platforms and personal philosophy that they love themselves so much and recognize how great they are as a person.
I’m all for people celebrating who they are and valuing themselves. It’s great to see this reversal, especially in a world that can cause people to doubt their value.
But this is how self-love digs deeper. When you have self-love, it also includes having self-accountability, too. What I mean by this is that people are often not willing to recognize their shortcomings, be receptive to feedback about these shortcomings, and recognize that this is a significant part of exercising self-love, too.
Self-love includes self-accountability too. You can’t avoid it. And you can’t have one without the other. Recall the patterns I mentioned above about people who experience similar problems and patterns over and over again. Even when they are the common denominator, they typically don’t acknowledge or recognize their part in changing the narrative.
So that you have self-awareness towards improvement, it’s important to be aware of the common things we say when we lack self-accountability:
“She/he was crazy.” It can be applicable in some instances, but if it’s the majority of cases, it’s time to do some self-inventory.
“She/he wouldn’t do what I needed them to do.” It’s not all about you. You are in a relationship, and each person is part of the equation. It’s equally important to look back and see if you were willing to compromise on what your needs were or be honest and acknowledge if you felt it had to be your way and only your way.
“I always attract ________.” Fill in the blank. If you are attracting certain types of individuals continuously, especially ones that are out of the norm, there is a gap within you that is drawing this type of individual to you.
Self-love again won’t protect you from unhealthy relationships or people. But what it will do over time is help you recognize the signs and patterns of unhealthy people, relationships, etc., equipping you to be strong enough to leave these situations.
Self-love is a delicate balance of respecting, understanding, and loving yourself unconditionally. It’s also the connection to the way you interact, share, and exhibit love and respect to others. If you remember this, it will help you find the balance you need.
Finding your balance in self-love is not easy. It’s continuous. It’s arduous. If it were easy, we would all be there already. But if you are willing to take the little steps that move you forward, you recognize it is a bridge worth crossing.