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Love youself before loving others

Love youself before loving others

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It is almost a cliché but there is still an absolute nugget of gold in the statement that you need to love yourself before you can fully love another.

For a long time now, there has been a co-dependent aspect to the mainstream understanding of relationships. The lyrics from the most popular chart songs from the last few decades pay tribute to the message that we can’t live without each other, we need each other to feel whole, we will be broken if the relationship ends and so on… With similar messages also being given through the most popular television shows, it is easy to understand why many people end up making their partners responsible for their happiness and end up blaming them when things start to go belly up.

Do we need someone to be happy?

Love and need are very close bed fellows but come from a completely different aspect in us. When we feel that we need someone in order to be happy, we have a basic assumption that we are not ok on our own and that this particular person has a certain something that completes us and that we cannot find in ourselves or elsewhere in our lives.

Love on the other hand is an expression of giving rather than of taking, it comes from a feeling of enough, it spills out towards others in a generous heart centred way. In essence a relationship based on love is a bonus in life rather than a necessity, whereas a relationship based on need cannot fail to feel pressured, tense as there is an underlying fear of abandonment underneath it.

Empty hole

Love youself before loving othersIt is very common to go into a relationship hoping, consciously or unconsciously that the person that you are with will make you feel better about yourself. Lots of people talk about an experience of an empty void inside them which they somehow hope their partner will fill up. The thing is, no one else can fill anyone else’s void; that is our job to do on our own.

The empty hole feeling represents all the ways in which you have not yet managed to love yourself. It’s where feelings of self doubt, low self esteem and even self hatred hang about. All of these feelings stack up in us from times where we’ve been shamed or criticised and have internalised negative beliefs about ourselves. If we don’t learn to love those parts of ourselves first it can feel very stressful in a relationship because there can be an experience of feeling like the truth is going to come out any moment that we are actually unlovable.

Love and accept

In the long run it really pays off to the therapeutic work of learning to love and accept yourself in all your colours. This doesn’t mean accepting behaviours in yourself that hurt others, rather it means getting underneath those behaviours and listening to your feelings, honouring them, expressing them in ways that are safe and conscious. It might involve having professional help for a period of time such as a friend or a therapist. In the words of the wise sages, ‘be the love that you are seeking’.




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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