This guy speaks my lingo!
Happy Valentine’s day! I’m not much into it, but I won’t lie, I was stoked to find a surprise Valentines present this morning nonetheless – what a legend! :D
So, love, eh, it’s kinda a big deal.
Right up there in the bloody good life criteria, yet such a slippery fish. Romantic love, self love, friend love, in all its many forms.
Everyone is looking for love, in their own (sometimes really bizarre) ways.
So many of us think that if we just find someone to love us then all our problems will dissolve and we’ll be magically happy ever after. And then sometimes, when they don’t make us completely whole, we blame them for not being enough, doing enough, saying enough.
But you know what? We’re barking up the wrong tree.
Someone else’s love will never be enough to patch over our own shit.
It might distract us from it for a while, but swept under the rug, it will eventually surface and f everything up.
I’ve loved deeply and been loved deeply, but external love alone couldn’t fix the emptiness I used to feel. I tried like buggery to use my relationships to patch up holes in my self, but it just didn’t cut it. Or patch it, or whatever.
You see, I’d never worked out how to be whole by myself before getting into a long term relationship.
It’s taken the last three years of being a mostly-single traveller to find the holes, freak out about them, learn to accept them,and then begin patching them up with something more structural than Cellotape and PVA.
Before I got into this self development jazz, I swung from one beautiful boyfriend to the next. You couldn’t have found more amazing partners to be with, they were the prince charmings that most people dream of. But the dissatisfaction that I had with life still couldn’t be smoothed over, not even by these amazing men.
My dissatisfaction with life in general seeped into my relationships and I caused drama and fights, probably to try and find some excitement. I imagine it was rather difficult to be with me. Actually, I think I was just a “normal” girlfriend. But I was also hot and cold and happy and sad and it didn’t make for smooth sailing. I’m infinitely grateful for the patience of those two men, trying to love someone who didn’t know how to love herself.
After much research and experimentation, I can now say with great certainty:
You cannot fully love someone else until you love yourself first.
No matter how much you don’t want to tackle that particular kettle of fish, eventually you will likely conclude that you’ve no other option.
I’d even posit that until you sort your own shit out, you won’t even be able to properly love your friends and family. Unless your own cup is full and overflowing, you won’t want to fully share it with anyone else.
I remember that showing someone that I loved them (even friends and family) used to make me feel a bit sick or angry, or weak, like I was reluctantly giving something away.
These days when I’m in the good place that I very frequently reside in, I feel like I’m so overflowing with life that I could give love to anyone without a backward glance. Hell, supermarket assistants sometimes get my love, and little old men that need helping off the tram. When I’m feeling whole, all I want to do is help everyone and give love to everyone.
It’s a good marker of where your happiness is at – how much love are you willing to give other people without expecting anything in return?
So how do we patch up these voids and work out how to “love ourselves” without getting annoyed and scornful of the whole idea?
The only way I know of is to really, properly, work out most of your shit (there will always be more), see it for what it is, and go, yea, ok, there are some serious faults in there, but I’m cool with that. This is me, I’m doing the best I can, and I kinda like me anyway.
It usually requires a helping hand from someone else to ask you the right questions to get you examining your internal world without freaking out. If this sparks something in you, find yourself a coach (me!), a counsellor, or an unbiased friend who’s happy to listen.
Now, I’ll be the last person you’ll hear ranting on about self love and affirmations, they’re not really my thing. My take on it is a bit more practical.
To love yourself, you first need to be able to see yourself non judgementally.
To do that, you need to be able to train your mind to shut the fuck up.
Because the mind’s full-time occupation is to rant on about what is wrong with you, what is wrong with everyone else, and why your current situation (and self, and partner) would be better if it was something other than it is.
I’ve decided I’m too tired to write anything more on the matter just now, so I’ll leave you with an awesome new project of a very talented new friend, called Big Love. (Not to be confused with the show about Polygamists)
Check out Jess’ article – What Does Loving Yourself Even Mean? It’s brilliant, couldn’t have said it better myself, so I haven’t.