Love yourself! Yes, yes, yes I get the concept but why are so many of us told that we have to love ourselves before we can find love from another? While it’s a statement I’ve heard over and over as a therapist for 17 years, I have to confess that what it really means baffles me. And, I’m not sure I agree.
The concept (or is it a cliché?) does continue to baffle me and here are three things I have come to understand about love that makes me question the wisdom of needing to ‘love yourself first’ before finding love:
We come into the world and as infants we learn how to love ourselves in the face of another (be it is our mother or any caregiver) who loves us. If experienced positively it is in the eyes of this loving and engaged caregiver we see the pleasure we bring to their world and the love they feel for us. So why should that stop when we are looking for validation or love for ourselves as adults? Doesn’t it make sense that we need the love of another to help us feel good about ourselves and see in their eyes how special we are?
How can the feeling of constantly longing and waiting to be loved make us feel good about ourselves? Even when we are single we all seek validation and love from friends and family. And it seems natural that we go where the love is – it’s how we are wired! We need connection, the experience of belonging and conversation to feel alive, that’s why we seek it. To wait till we “love ourselves” before we seek love has the potential to slow down the process of feeling the “aliveness” that connection with another can bring.
Do we have to be perfect to find or be loved? Many of us don’t love ourselves as we are so why wait until that day? There is no better experience to be in the eyes of someone that loves you when you know you carry your everyday flaws and those imperfections. Through love, how you feel can be healed if done in the right way. So why wait to heal alone? Heal in the arms of another who truly loves you. Love in the present with all your imperfections and flawed parts of yourself!
So from my point of view it isn’t worth waiting for love until you love you. The best approach is to learn to love yourself in the eyes of another. It is how we come into the world and its how we are shaped. Accept who you are and look for the love you need and desire. Why wait for the very thing that could help you fall in love with “yourself”? Why wait for the exhilarating feeling of feeling alive that love brings. Yes of course it opens you up to vulnerability and it opens you up to the “risk” of being hurt but these things can help you “love yourself” as you learn who you are in the arms and eyes of another. Don’t wait!
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