People often say, “You have to love/accept yourself before you can love/help others.” There is a lot of truth there, but there is also more to it than meets the eye. The phrase gets dismissed frequently, because it carries an unrealistic, idyllic connotation and a stigma of being too self-involved. However, truly loving and accepting yourself doesn’t mean that you need to have an unconditional adoration for yourself, but learn to live with the things you can’t change and challenge yourself with the things you can. With that resolve, it gives you the clarity and strength to create and hold fast to appropriate boundaries that preserve who you are. This, in turn, allows you to be there for people consistently and effectively when the need arises.
On the flipside, there are some people who have let others walk on them so much that they turn the tables and become incredibly selfish as a shield from being taken advantage of again. This “new-found perspective” isn’t really self-love, because it turns into bitterness, defensiveness, and isolation. That tends to repel well-adjusted people who are much less likely to go out of their way for those individuals, because there is a reciprocity in life. There will always be people who try to cheat and there will always be generous people: things tend to balance out in the end even if life isn’t always fair.
Thoughts for the Week
So, to love yourself is to maintain healthy boundaries and be there for those who consistently show up for you. If you can’t love yourself, how can others love you? But, also, if you aren’t willing to give love, why should people give it to you? It all comes down to knowing your value and being cognizant of the world around you.