By Debbi Serafinchon
Do we need to figure out how to love ourselves before loving someone else?
I read a post on Facebook and was reassured that I do not need to love myself before I can love another, but I need to delve a little deeper into this line of thinking.
The real truth is many of us learn to love ourselves and see our self-worth by loving others. We develop that self-love everyone is seeking by relying on another to teach us we are just right. When the unselfish love and support of another can open our eyes and show us we are worthy of love, it can be just the thing we need to see that we can be cherished and deserving of love.
I’m not talking about narcissistic love, where all one can see is their own needs and desires. No, I am referring to the warm and magic touch of someone who can look outside of themselves and has room in their heart for another. Someone who is willing and able to offer others love is an amazing gift.
After all, isn’t that what love is supposed to be all about? Giving the gift of acceptance?
We tend to place the most judgment on the one we see in the mirror. I can’t be the only one who has done this little self-depreciating exercise where we see all our flaws and wrinkles and wonder how anyone could love us. Come on! If I were the only one, millions and millions of dollars would not be spent on anti-aging cream or make-up, or plastic surgery or the million other ways we spend our hard earned dollars to make us “better.” Where’s the self-love in all that?
What would happen if we did allow ourselves to see what others see in us?
What if we started to believe others when they told us we have beautiful eyes, a heartwarming smile, a generous nature, or that we truly are a good person?
What would happen if we opened our hearts to accept that what others see in us just might be our truth?
Would we be able to see what others love us for and maybe let that be our truth?
Giving ourselves permission to love ourselves is a long and windy path. It takes a few dips, bends and scary turns and is a lifelong process, not some sunny, unicorn eating grass in a meadow with butterflies flying freely kind of destination. It works the exact same as when we are loving another; despite ourselves, we have been able to love others.
We don’t always like the people whom we love, and the same should be allowed for ourselves.
It is okay to make mistakes. It is acceptable to screw up and let ourselves down. It is not okay to belittle ourselves and think solely because of those little blimps on our path that we are unworthy of love. We scold ourselves into believing that we are not worthy of love. We have a tendency to be unforgiving of our little imperfections, so why shouldn’t it be okay to let another love us in our times of such need? They are there to remind us that we are capable of great things and great love.
We learn to love ourselves from the people in our lives who love us. When we have the support we need to see the great qualities in ourselves, take it! Really hear what others are saying instead of brushing it off.
“Oh, this old thing?” in response to a compliment on how well we put yourself together.
“I don’t do things any different than others.” Really? If they have said it, they obviously don’t see everyone else going out of their way to make them feel special.
“I am just me.” This is one I have had to accept. The person telling us this knows it is just you that is why they are complimenting you on it! They think you are wonderful for being you.
We are not a failure or worthless because we don’t love ourselves. There are many days when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and start the self-loathing process over the extra jiggle in my hips, but I stop my youngest daughter from the same negative self-talk. There are days when I can feel less than loving to myself, but still manage to give my friends a hug. There are times when I have stood in a grocery store and admired a stranger’s choice of outfit and told them so, when I am in yoga pants and a sweat shirt.
All too often we hear that we can’t love another without first loving ourselves. I call bullshit. We go through life loving others every day. Let others love you and stay on the path to self-discovery.
We might just shock ourselves and see what they find so valuable.
Debbi Serafinchon is a passionate lover of life, and she uses writing to try and fit the pieces of what is happening in her world together. This divorced mom to four older children finds she now has the time to travel, learn, explore her creative side and people watch. Her favorite quote by Douglas Adams summarizes her journey quite nicely: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” You can find more of her writing on her website and follow her on Facebook.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak