This week my beautiful step-daughter shared with me a blog post she had read about love and marriage. If you have a chance to read it, you can see that it is a lovely way to view a relationship,and it made me reflect on my own with John. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realised there was a piece missing in the post… because all love must begin with ourselves first.
It is impossible for me to love someone else authentically and genuinely if I do not first love myself in the same way. Yes, I can be in a relationship and experience real love but to truly behold the beauty of another I must first not be blinded by my thoughts about my own flaws. The absence of self love risks a dependency on others to make one happy. A dependency like this is doomed to eventually be unfulfilling.
Over the years John and I have come to realise that when we get angry at each other, in reality we are actually angry at ourselves. The “flaws” we see in each other are really simply reflections of flaws we believe are within ourselves. How else would we be able to identify them so easily in others? When we love ourselves wholly we are more likely to value everything about someone else because we know nothing is missing in ourselves.
For me, lack of self love is evident whenever I have an uncomfortable moment with someone. Remember, there is no right or wrong in a moment…it simply is. It is my interpretation of the moment (based on my perception of self) that interprets how I should feel. When love for myself is missing inevitably I will feel agitated. We can see this manifested in many ways – jealously; blaming others for our own unhappiness; body health; feeling let down; insecurity etc. Luckily, I can recognise this in myself nowadays and know that when I start to project old thoughts like “You made me….” I try to stop myself and find out what I am not loving about Leanne at that very moment. It’s a really bloody hard process because it is soooo much easier (and quicker!) to point out the flaws in others rather than myself.
To make the learning even more challenging is a cultural belief that equates self love with boasting. Our generation was taught to be humble, almost in denial about seeing the good in ourselves. We even label the people who break through this as “tall poppies”. I’ve always found poppies to be magnificent. Self love isn’t about boasting, it’s about being whole in order to give yourself honestly and openly to others – to remain centred in their presence and embrace their behaviours as lovingly as your own.
Thankfully, learning to love oneself does not have to happen at the exclusion of all other loves. I’m so grateful to be realising this now, and having John in my life because the more I am starting to love myself the more I can see the amazing man who shares this journey with me. The same is true for all my family and friends…if my light shines bright it means I can illuminate their life as well and gosh they are a beautiful bunch. How well do you love yourself?