My therapist told me something 15 years ago that I will never forget.
‘You have to love yourself before you can love your neighbor as yourself.’
Being totally honest. I was like – she’s a therapist. She must not realize that’s super selfish.
(I wish I could say I was kidding. I was half-kidding. But I don’t think this anymore and blame it on my youthful ignorance.)
Seven years later. Different therapist.
Me: I don’t know what to do. I feel so selfish for quitting, not going on the trip, breaking up with the guy, etc.
After ignoring the first therapist, I spent years battling these questions.
- How do I love myself without being selfish?
- How do I love others without having to say yes to everything or while still standing up for myself?
- How do I love others without getting walked all over?
I felt like I wasn’t a good Christian or loving them the way I was “called” to love if I didn’t sign up for every meal delivery, go out with every guy who asked, quit volunteering, or even not visiting my family as long as they wanted me to.
So I lived miserably stressed, overwhelmed with emotions, & thinking I wouldn’t be loved if I didn’t do all of these things.
It never hit me that I wasn’t loving myself.
It was a cycle. I didn’t love myself. I would say yes, not out of love but out of the desire for them to love me and fill my void, and then I’d be miserable and mad. And not love who I was.
The cycle began and ended with me.
I didn’t love myself and then I ended up not loving myself. It was a downward spiral that I had to pull myself up out of.
I had to start understanding what it meant to love me – first.
What I have sense learned, and mostly through coaching, is this.
When I know how to unconditionally love and value myself, then I have the capacity to love and value others.
Before I was just trying to love others out of obligation, rules, and the desire to be loved. None of that is loving.
Self- love starts with awareness. Followed by understanding, compassion, acceptance, value, empowerment and self-boundaries (saying no to the short-term gratification for the long-term success).
Imagine if you did that for yourself every day.
You were aware of your thoughts and feelings driving your behaviors. You understood and showed compassion and acceptance for where you’re at. You valued yourself no matter what. You felt empowered to be confident and have self-boundaries in order to have success for yourself.
Imagine a world where all of us did that.
We’d have so much capacity to love others. That’s truly what we’re called to do.
We’d be aware and understand them and their situations. We’d show compassion and acceptance no matter what. We’d value them with all of their flaws. And then we’d be empowered to make decisions and have boundaries with them to help them have success for themselves.
It was true when my therapist said it 15 years ago and it’s true now.
You have to love yourself before you can love your neighbor as yourself.
If you have wondered these same things before...
If you have felt both walked over and selfish…
If you have ever battled with these same questions…
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