Learning to Love Myself

In retrospect I  clearly see a much different past view of myself than the one visible to me today.  Now when glancing in my mental “rear-view mirror” my old behavior is much easier to explain and understand.  Those were the days when my feelings were often thoughts of not measuring up.  No matter what I accomplished it was rarely good enough.  Achievement most often felt flawed.  I frequently nitpicked what was good in my life until there were defects with them of my own creation.

In the past I spent so much time wanting to be loved and hoping love would find me.   My yearning was so engulfing I did not see the special love I sought even when it was before me.  I searched for something I felt empty and lost without.  The reason that the love I so desperately sought eluded me was due to looking in the wrong places.  From the vantage point of now I can see I wanted someone to fill me up with love, which is not how life works.  What I needed had to happen from the “inside out”. 

Those were the days when being alone for more than a few days made me crazy.  I was like some battery that needed badly to be recharged, but could not charge itself.  Love was something I could only see happening to me through some external source.  Simply, I did not love myself.  The energy, the feeling, and the charge I wanted so much needed to come from within myself.  But then I did not know how.     

Today I know that loving my self is mainly about self-respect.  It seems to be the only dependable way I have control over creating love for myself.  In the past when expecting love from an external source, and someone or something did not fulfill my void and fantasies I felt worse than before.  I have learned that no one could love me until I loved myself.  I am able to receive no more love than the amount of love I have for me.  

Attending church in my youth was just something I was made to do.  I got little from it then, or at least that is what I thought.  Turns out, there was quite a bit retained.  It just took many years for me to connect the dots and find anything meaningful about what I learned in Sunday school.  Once thing I do remember comes from the Bible and is found in Corinthians:  

Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It is not rude,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Always trusts,
Always hopes,
Always perseveres.
Love does not fail. 

In secular expression, similar thinking is found in the poem “I Must Love Myself” by J. Earl Evans: 

Before I can begin
to love anyone else,
I have to find a way
to first love myself.
Loving myself should be
an easy thing to do.
If I can pat you
on the back,  I can do
the same for me too.
I have to learn to love myself
this is true.
Because no one can love me
as much as I do.
I must find a way
to give myself a break,
and be able  to love myself
no matter what it takes.
I’m not alone
feeling the way I do.
I hope to one day love myself,
just as much as I love you. 

I imagine if I sat here and thought for a good while I could create a fairly long list of the ingredients I used to fall in love with myself.  The items listed would range from the little things to what made the most difference for me.  Within the items with the highest meaning, one has clearly been the most important:  forgiving my self!  Only by letting go of wrongs done, failings and mistakes did the blemishes I placed on myself begin to fade. It took saying “I’m sorry” to a lot of people.  I also had to learn in some cases there is no good to come of trying to express regret to those wronged.  Attempting to do so in some situations only makes things worse (that was a difficult lesson). 

As I think of what I am grateful for this morning, what is on the top of my mind is how I feel about myself today.  It has been a rough and painful path I have walked to get here, but am grateful to have found the route.  I feel the best about myself I ever have and without doubt do truly love myself.  There is a good measure of peace inside me now I never knew before.  My life has been blessed in many ways, but none more so that learning how to love myself.  Many helped me get here.  To all those who have loved me and do love me… thank you for your love and support that kept me on this path until I could learn to love myself. 

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.  Carl Gustav Jung

2 thoughts on “Learning to Love Myself

  1. I agree that self love is a very important component to romantic love… Without it, we create dependencies, controlling or needy relationships. 😉

Comments are closed.