Learning to Love Myself

Reposted from July 28, 2011:  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.  Back then were the days when my feelings were frequently about not measuring up.  No matter what I accomplished it was rarely good enough.  Achievement usually felt flawed.  I frequently nitpicked what was good until there were defects in them I created.

In the past I spent so much time wanting to be loved and hoping love would find me.   My yearning was engulfing. I did not see the special love I sought even when it was before me.  I searched past it for something else. I felt empty and lost.  The reason that love I so desperately sought eluded me was because 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 to be recharged, but could not charge itself.  The shortage was because I did not love myself.  The energy… the feeling… the charge… I wanted so much-needed to come from within myself.  But I did not know how.

Today I know that loving my self is mainly about self-respect.  It’s the only dependable way I have control over creating love for myself.  In the past when expecting love from an external source, and what I got did not fill my void I felt even worse. 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. Thought I got little from it. Turns out though, there was a bit retained.  Once thing I remember comes from the Bible and the book of 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 thought for a while I could create a fairly long list of the ingredients I used to fall in love with myself (most days anyway).   Highest on the list would be: forgiving my self!  Only by letting go of wrongs done, failings and mistakes could the blemishes I placed on myself begin to fade. It took saying “I’m sorry” to a lot of people.  Too, I learned in some cases there is no good to come of trying to express regret to those wronged.  For some it only makes things worse (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 to get here, but I am grateful to have found the route.  I feel the best about myself I ever have.  There is a good measure of peace inside me 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 and do love me… thank you for kindness and support that kept me on this path of learning to love myself.

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