It may not always be true that no one will love you until you love yourself. But loving yourself makes it much easier to find someone else who will love you.
Self love isn’t about comparing yourself to others or to what others expect of you. This type of love isn’t earned so it also can’t be lost.
When self love is associated with good deeds and meeting expectations, which either others place on you or you place on yourself, the love is conditional. With this type of love, you only love yourself if you measure up to a set of expectations.
True self love needs to be unconditional. With this type of love, you love yourself regardless of anything that you do or anything that others say about you. You love yourself because everyone is inherently worthy of love and you are no exception. You love yourself wholly; the good the bad and the ugly.
This doesn’t mean you don’t take responsibility for bad deeds or that you accept that you can’t be better. I just means that whether you love yourself or not is not attached to your behavior or whether or not you measure up.
Who Are You?
Life is truly one of those games where everyone gets a participation award because the only way to learn anything is by making mistakes or learning from the mistakes of others. So you need to love yourself unconditionally for trying everyday to be better.
Before you can truly have this type of love for yourself you need to figure out who you really are. People spend so much of their time trying to show others that they are who they are expected to be and hiding any aspect of themselves that doesn’t fit that expectation.
Sometimes they hide it so well they even hide it from themselves, or they at least attempt to.
A Self Assessment
Can you answer the question “who are you?” What do you really want in a relationship? What do you really need? What do you stand for? Why should anyone want to be with you? Why are you special?
What do you have to offer and what do you expect in return? If you are coming up empty when thinking of answers to any of these questions it’s time to do a little self assessment.
These questions aren’t trick questions. You just need to sit down and really think about the answers. You should know yourself better than anyone else.
The Purpose of the Assessment
If you don’t know the answers to why someone should want to be with you, how can you expect someone else to come up with that answer. You have far more information about yourself than they do.
This self assessment isn’t so you can prove to someone else that you are worthy of their love. It’s so you can know yourself more intimately and become familiar with your unfiltered self.
What’s Special About You
We all have something special to offer. Think of compliments you received from past lovers. Even if you were with someone who didn’t shower you with compliments, it’s likely that they at least provided you with compliments on occasion.
Are you funny, loyal, supportive, nurturing, compassionate or fun? Are you strong and able to roll with the punches of life without crumbling? Do others rely on you? What are your accomplishments?
Have you had any unique life experiences? Are you smart or witty? Make a self inventory of what makes you special. You don’t need to be the best in the world at this characteristics to put it on your list.
The Negative Side
Its also important to know your bad habits and less desirable traits. Are you selfish, manipulative, or critical? Do you project your own issues on to others to take attention away from your insecurities?
Are you vindictive, quick to anger or do you lash out on others when you don’t get what you want? Do you get defensive easily? All of these traits and more are important to be self aware of.
The purpose of this self inventory is self awareness and practicing self love while standing face-to-face with all your great attributes and shortcomings.
When you can acknowledge all your shortcomings and still love yourself, you have achieved true self love. At that point you stop associating meeting expectations with being worthy of love.
Something that can help you accomplish this is having a practice of unlimited forgiveness. You forgive yourself for your shortcomings and allow yourself the right to make mistakes. What else is life but a series of mistakes that we strive to learn from and do better as time goes on.
Much of this inventory will focus on the less desirable parts of yourself because those are usually the traits that make people shy away from loving themselves because those characteristics make them feel unworthy of love.
It’s also important to focus on who your relationship self is. Not who your co-workers know you as or even who your close friends or family know you as. Often how you act in a romantic relationship is different from how you act with your family or friends.
Sometimes this difference is drastic, for better or worse. Since this is often the case it is important to assess your romantic relationship self.
To find true self love, it is critically important to know yourself. Once you know yourself, you have to start the process of loving that person unconditionally.
What does unconditional love mean? Just that, without condition. You don’t just love yourself when you do well. You don’t just love yourself when you are perfect. You don’t just love yourself when you are on your best behavior.
You love yourself regardless of what you do or what others people think of you. But in order to truly love yourself you have to be honest about who that person is and what is great and maybe not so great about yourself.
All of it is part of who you are. The things that are great are things you can celebrate and let shine through. The things that are not so great are things you may need to work on but they are still part of you today and aren’t things you should be ashamed of.
Instead of pretending you don’t have a bad attitude at times, acknowledge that this is part of who you are and love yourself anyway. When you pretend these traits are not part of you, not only are you not being honest with those around you, you’re not being honest with yourself.
Those who don’t know you well might be fooled but anyone who really knows you well will know that you’re just pretending. Maybe they won’t call you out because they don’t want to deal with the backlash of doing so but they know the truth.
Be Honest with Yourself
The real injustice is that you know the truth as well. As much and you try to tell yourself that these traits aren’t part of you, you know deep down inside that they are part of you.
You may hide them because you dislike yourself for having them. Whenever someone tries to call you out it brings this part of you to light and your defenses may go to high alert because you are trying as hard as you can to bury the evidence of this part of you.
If you make becoming a better person a condition for loving yourself, your only choices are to hold back love until you can resolve the issue or to lie to yourself and others about your issues so you can love yourself now. If you have a requirement that you will only love yourself when you’re perfect you will never love yourself.
Self Love is Hard to Resist
When a man is dating a woman who loves herself it is hard to not be attracted to her and even harder to not respect her. Sometimes people think acknowledging their faults will make them vulnerable to attack.
However, when you love yourself and accept those parts of yourself that aren’t great without associating them with you not being worthy of love, hearing that you have issues becomes no surprise and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just something to work at over time and part of being human.
Allow yourself the right to make mistakes and forgive yourself often when you do. Own who you are and embrace the fully totality of the human experience. Love yourself for who you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly.