In our culture, I was taught to love others before self. I should be giving to everyone else first except me. It’s a sin to love myself more than the others. My cousins should eat first, walk first, play first.
When I had some sweets, I couldn’t eat them first. I must offer them to all my friends first. Only after they took their share, I was allowed to take the left overs. If I took the sweets first, I’ll be called selfish, or self-centered. And I didn’t want to be called that, so I behaved how people wanted me to behave.
Were you facing the same issues as me? Were you being taught to love others before self? Were you being told that loving yourself is inappropriate? Do you ever thought that loving yourself mean selfishness? Beware, that’s a huge interpretation that doesn’t serve you. This interpretation can affect your behaviour.
How will your life be if you grow up having this interpretation?
Frankly, I do not know how your life will be liked. But I know how my life is like. It’s a life that is lack of self love. Always giving to others, rarely thinking of pampering myself. Hence, I’m always thriving for results, wanting success so much that it shapes who I am, and how I should behave. Because I thought that’s how I can love myself more. I was looking for love from my achievements.
When I did not achieve the desired outcome, I beat myself up, invalidated myself and showed no love to myself. In other words, I was loving myself conditionally. What is wrong with loving myself conditionally?
I’ve forgotten how to love myself. If I don’t know how to love myself, how would I know how to love others? If I don’t know how to take care of my well being, how would I know how to take care of others?
You guessed correctly, I wasn’t very happy. How do someone without love be happy? So far, are you following me? Are you having a similar experiences?
I discovered some extreme cases. There are people who hate themselves. Some of these cases are paradox. They had attended seminars or read self-help books to be more positive. Yet they can’t seem to get out of the struggle. The positivity doesn’t seem to work on them. After I worked with them, then I found out that they actually hate themselves at the core. Now if you hate yourself, no amount of positive affirmation can get you out of the dump. You have to start loving yourself first.
For my clients, they are doing practices right now to peel off the hatred layer by layer.
How do you love yourself unconditionally?
Start from your beliefs. You can love yourself even though you don’t achieve anything. Look at a 6 months old baby. A baby sleeps most of the time, he/she can’t achieve anything at that time. But you will love the baby. You don’t set conditions for that baby to be loved, right? So why can’t you do it to yourself too?
Love yourself for who you are. Love all your imperfection. Love your physical appearance. Love your personality. Start to generate ways of how you can love yourself first. A practice that I take on is to have my food without waiting for anyone when I’m hungry. Of course you can wait for the rest if you choose to. The difference is you have a choice now.
Create a list of well being tasks. They can be daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Basically list the tasks that take care of you. Some examples like meditation, exercise, hydrate yourself etc.
Do spend time reflecting and talk to yourself. Communicate with the inner YOU. For any relationship to work, it’s important to communicate. Just like your spouse will want you to talk to him/her, the inner YOU will want you to talk to him/her.
Before you close this post, one practice for you. Why don’t you start by saying, “I Love You” to yourself right now? Yes, do it right now!