I believe one of the many things they don’t teach us to do while we are young is to love ourselves. I do not believe there is anyone to blame — it is something that has happened over many generations. We are raised to be “good” people and are expected to become responsible and caring members of society. Sure, we are told to respect others, be kind, be generous, be forgiving. But we are told to be all these things to other people, never to ourselves. You’d think that by exercising these qualities on others, it’d happen naturally when we try to love ourselves. However, we grow up and become very caring individuals to everyone but us. This is why some people go their whole lives trying to please others, thus forgetting themselves, their needs, and their dreams. Additionally, we are told we are smart, we are told we are beautiful, we are told many pleasant things — and grow up expecting more of these compliments to hype us up, and feel down when no one commends us.
I can honestly sit here and say that at the age of 28, I don’t know who I am or what I am trying to be — I don’t know what I want to gain from life. I also cannot say I love myself. Unfortunately, this realization was not made until after I had an emotional roller coaster with many people in my life with whom I had a relationship with. I learned that I was loving and giving to these people, in hopes of it being reciprocated. While I am completely aware that you should not give to receive, I am also aware that no relationship is a one way street. It was a shock for me to learn that if I want something done, I am going to have to do it myself. This is where loving yourself becomes such an important aspect. One should not wait desperately to be loved, to be cared for, to be respected — or to get taken out, or wait around for gifts, for kind words. We should learn how to do things things for ourselves, which will then help us understand that we don’t need people to fulfill our wants and needs. We can find love within us.
Doing things alone is uncomfortable for many, but there is no better way to get intimate with yourself than to be alone. I used to be so terrified of being alone that sleep became my best friend. On days when I wanted to go to the movies for example, and no one was available, I would sleep. On days when I wanted a kind word — but never got it, I’d sleep. Now I look back and wonder why. Why could I not take ME to the movies? Why could I not tell MYSELF kind words? Why could I not go out alone and treat myself to something nice? Other people cannot define our happiness and we have to learn to be responsible for making ourselves happy – the only person we can have control over is ourself.
One thing I am learning to do now is to love myself. Every single day I question my life. I question if I am content or if I am comfortable. There is a huge difference between the two — and even though being comfortable is a pleasant feeling, we need to bring our lives into a content state… and away from simply being comfortable. Being comfortable is easy and it is also dangerous to our lives. If you don’t feel a stirring in your heart or spirit, you need to change something to be able to feel gratified. Stop doing the same thing over and over again if you are getting results that are not bettering you emotionally or spiritually. I believe the first step to loving yourself is to question everything — the rest will follow. For example:
Am I doing enough for myself? Am I living the life I always dreamed of living (realistically)? Do I think positively about myself and my life? Do I reward myself for all the hard work I put in on a daily basis? Am I where I want to be spiritually? Have I forgiven myself for past mistakes? Do I put my feelings before any one else’s?
If you can have a mental conversation with yourself about where you currently stand in life, you have taken the first step to realizing who you are and what steps you need to take to love yourself and live your most fulfilling life. The next step is to take action. I believe taking action is the toughest step. For one, it is hard to admit AND accept, that ultimately we are the only ones responsible for our happiness… not our best friend, not our spouse, not our parents, etc. People are temporary and until we can grasp this concept, we will feel like people always let us down. No one should have expectations from anyone but themselves. Don’t wait for others to do things with you or for you that you can do for yourself. LOVE yourself , take care of your thoughts, take care of your spirit. Always remember that you only have one life to live and every day should be a day of working on your self-growth so you may live a self-fulfilling life.
Best of luck on this journey,