Have you ever heard the saying, “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else?” I know I have. Endless chapters of the self-help books I have read over the years are devoted to this idea. I subscribed to this idea emphatically until I finally realized that in reality, it is utter garbage. In fact, I would go so far as to say a belief in this ideology could be detrimental and serve as a giant obstacle in your life.
Here is the truth I have come to realize. It is so much more meaningful when you have the love of someone else in comparison to simply loving yourself. Why? Because no matter the effort we put into ourselves, it will always be easier to love someone else rather than ourselves.
Don’t believe me? Think about the love you have for your children, your partner, your mother, your father, and your friends. Is it not true that you would reflexively do anything at all for them while at the same time struggle to do the minimum for yourself?
This is what makes us human. We are tribal. The way that we start to love ourselves is through the relationships that we have with other people. Loving yourself is life’s ultimate doctorate dissertation. It is the culmination of every experience, conversation, and encounter. It is a process that starts when we are born and continues until we pass.
Some days, we love who we are and what we represent. Others, we view ourselves as failures not worthy of any of the success we have found. If we held true to the original statement, do we suddenly lose the ability to love a partner of 10 years, your family, or your kid when we find ourselves not particularly liking who we see in the mirror that day? NO! That’s crazy talk.
This is why it is imperative to take part in healthy relationships. Experiencing the reciprocation of healthy love unconsciously teaches us to treat ourselves better. This more positive view of ourselves and the realization of our worth to others helps to automate the process of self-love
One final note to consider...while learning to love yourself is a lifelong process, you should absolutely at minimum like yourself before entering a relationship. Self-hate is toxic and must be dealt with before investing in someone else. Failure to recognize this will ultimately lead to failure and heartache that could have been avoided.