Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Loving Yourself First Is Being Real

Why is it so hard to believe that others can love us? That we are lovable? If you are an incest survivor there can be many reasons from your childhood abuse that can make it difficult for you to believe that you can truly be loved by another person.

If you didn't feel loved by your parents, you don't have the loving foundation that a child needs to have in order to learn to love yourself. In addition to the lack of that loving foundation, you may not feel that you deserve to be loved, especially if you were abused by your parents as a child.

I have seen so many others struggle with this thing called love. They struggle even more with self-love. Some see it as being selfish to put themselves first. It isn't. Even the Bible tells you that you come first. The Golden Rule says to love your neighbor as yourself. Most of us forget the "as yourself" part of the sentence. If you don't love and take care of yourself, how can you love and take care of others? You can't. You can pretend to yourself that you love others and are doing your best to care for them but until you love yourself you can't love others. That kind of love for others is just an imitation of the real thing. It doesn't come from your heart. It comes from your head. Without the heart involved, you can come to resent those that you say you love the most.

Once you learn to love yourself then you can open your heart to others. Until you love yourself, the heart remains closed. You let past hurts and resentments build up until they destroy the very intimacy that you want with others. Yes if you open your heart, you may get hurt again but the risk is really worth it. You can't know true love with a closed heart. It just doesn't work.
Take a chance on what you really want in your life. Open your heart. Love yourself then love someone else.


me as i am said...

hi patricia~ a beautiful post. thank you for writing it.

when i used to hear that you have to love yourself first before you can be loved, i used to take that in a bad way. i thought it meant i had to have all my problems solved, be healed from my past, be perfect, before i DESERVED to be loved.

but i think now that we don't have to be all healed or perfect IN ORDER to be loved. i think instead, that as we heal, and learn to love ourselves, we will be more able to feel and accept the love that other people have for us.

without that, it is like you say, our hearts might be closed. we might not be able to accept that we are truly loved. we may test people endlessly, looking for the proof that one day they will leave us, just as we fear. we may do things for people that is us acting like we love them, but we may be fueled by the desire to "get" love in return, we may have strings attached. we may resent them if we don't get back what we are trying to get.

i've been thinking a lot about this lately. so reading this post is reinforcing what i was already thinking about. the importance of self-love. the good kind. not inflated, self-absorbed egocentrism. the healthy kind of love. where we can pat ourselves on the back, and be gentle with ourselves. and when people tell us they love us, we believe it~

wishing you well today and always, patricia. thank you for all you do!

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, thank you. This was a draft that I started about 6 months ago and never finished. I went to my blog earlier to write about another topic and saw the beginnings of this draft.

As I read what I wrote 6 months ago, the words started to flow until the article that you see now was the result. I still haven't written on my original topic. When the words flow as this article did, I trust the flow and post it. I love it when that happens. Those are some of my best articles.

speck of dust said...

Hi Patricia, thanks for this post. I am really struggling with the self love/loving others dilemma when it comes to choosing what jobs I am going to do this year. It can be a very complicated subject, even when we have a better idea of how to love ourselves. I will be writing about it more on my blog the next chance I get. I think survivors do have a tendency to think of others first or to be martyrs or self-sacrificing and a lot of religions teach this as being a worthy thing to do. So, I think it can be a difficult balance sometimes. I am noticing I am being pulled a lot between having to look after others and needing to look after myself. All the best.

Patricia Singleton said...

Speck, I remember my own difficulties with learning to love myself and take care of my own needs instead of expecting others would do it for me.

Many churches talk about sacrifice and service to others. What they don't tell you is that unless you take care of yourself and love yourself first, you don't have much, if anything, to give to the church or others when you are empty.

Shen said...

Great post. What I get from it is the same thing I am getting from CoDA: I have to love myself before I can love anyone else or expect them to love me.

I never understood the "good side" of being vulnerable because being vulnerable had never been a good thing, in my child hood.
But being vulnerable is necessary to "real" relationships.

I remember saying to my first therapist, "Nobody talks to me about anything important".
Well of course they didn't! I never shared anything more personal than the weather, why would they share with me?

In addition, I would feel hurt when people didn't know what I was feeling, even though I didn't tell them.

Its a crazy thing, this closing off that happens after abuse. It is a long road to the point where we can feel safe enough to share who we really are, but it is such a worthwhile path to take.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shen, yes, I learned a lot about myself in CoDA years ago when a friend of mine started a small group here where I live. As I have said before the 2 books that added the most to my initial growth in recovery were Melody Beattie's Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency. I recently purchased them to share with a friend. I gave away my original copies to another friend years ago.

April_optimist said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! The more we are able to love ourselves, the more we have to offer others as well. The more we can love ourselves, the less we feel we need to hide who we are and it is in that authenticity that true connection occurs.

Patricia Singleton said...

April, you got it. Without love there is no real connection.

Colleen said...

Amen. We can't give what we do not have. If we do not feel worthy of being loved, if we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others. Great post. Thanks for the reminder, Patricia! And thank you for your comment on my blog.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, thank you and you are welcome.

Just Be Real said...

Pat, I am getting there. Thanks for the inspiring message. Blessings.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, You are welcome and blessings back to you. You deserve to be there.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Hey, Patricia! Love the new, bright layout. Nice!

This post, I also love. This is such a HUGE survivor issue. It is so basic and applies to every relationship in life. I still struggle with this one, but I've gotten better at it since I had my own child. I realized that if Mommy's well is dry, I have nothing to give my child. I've learned, over the years, to fill my well--to feed my spirit--and that this is actually a gift to myself AND others, not a selfish act at all.

One thing I love to say is that being "self-centered" is no crime; it's actually exactly what we need to be: centered in the self. We center, and then we can radiate out to others.

Great post! Thanks so much for letting us use it for the blog carnival. I so appreciate your ongoing support and participation! :) xoxoxo

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, thank you. You are an easy person to support. So is the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.

Baker said...

I agree, loving yourself first is the biggest step to loving others. We are here and deserve all the good that continues to flow into our lives. It is about allowing this to flow within first.

Patricia Singleton said...

Baker, thank you. Your words are very true.