“If you are someone who frequently puts other’s needs before your own, don’t be surprised when others always put your needs last”
The concept of self-love and the knowledge that you must first love yourself, before you can love another, is nothing new. However just like when someone tells you to relax – it’s easier said than done.
What is self-love and how do you put it into action in practical terms?
Self- love is the unconditional feeling of acceptance of who you are right now. It is acceptance that when you get things wrong you are simply realising what does not work for you. Self-love does not judge you, it does not criticise or put you down. It accepts that you may need to learn answers by repeating the lesson sometimes before you graduate in that issue. Self-love holds your hand as you explore the unknown. Self-love has your back, it has a voice that stands up for your needs and desires. Self-love believes in your entitlement to receive love and to express your needs. Self-love does not wait until you are in shape, get that promotion or are in a relationship to be there with you, it is a constant companion in both good and bad times.
Does this all sound familiar? Are these not the things that you may have been seeking from someone else or what you have been giving exclusively to loved ones whilst neglecting yourself?
Self-love is the fundamental building block that needs to be in place to build a healthy relationship where both get their needs met. If you are someone who frequently puts other’s needs before your own, don’t be surprised when others always put your needs last.
You cannot expect someone else to give you something that you will not give yourself. If the foundation of self-love is not in place then anything built on top is not going to weather the storms or stand the test of time.
As I write in my article Why Can’t I Find Love! lack of self-love can affect your ability both to give and receive love authentically.
We are born in love with ourselves but there are many life events and programming that can affect our abilities to love ourselves. However the good news is that the process of rediscovering self-love is something that, if focused on actively, can quickly return.
Here are 5 Self-Love Tips that will help contribute to your rediscovery of your love that is waiting to be reclaimed.
1. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE – Look out for anywhere you are using your words to judge yourself. Stay away from judgemental phrases that include ‘too’, for example ‘too fat’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘too stupid’, ‘too nice’, ‘too honest’. Listen out for the way you speak about yourself, both in your mind and out loud – remember you are listening and any negativity can be self-reinforcing. Be reminded that if you talk badly about yourself expect others to follow suit.
2. REWARD YOUR EFFORT NOT YOUR OUTCOME – Success is often judged on the achievement of a set of goals, ie lose 20 lbs before a holiday, get married by the age of 30, or pass your driving test the first time round. The setting of the goals is the easiest part and then comes the journey towards success – littered with obstacles. Whilst on the journey the focus is permanently on the end goal which will dictate failure or success in your mind.
Your body shape changes, you tone up through all the exercise you have invested in and you have lost 10 pounds for your holiday next week. Are you a failure or a success?
Your engagement to a wonderful partner who makes you feel loved and cherished takes place on your 35th birthday. Are you a failure or a success?
Your 3rd driving test is due tomorrow and having now conquered your fear of rush hour traffic your instructor feels that this is your time. Are you a failure or a success?
Treat the goal as a motivator not the finish line. Don’t focus on the outcome as that is not in your hands. Acknowledge your progress and reward your effort along the journey. As you trust that in life we often get what we need ….not what we want….. acknowledge that goals will often shift as a result of circumstance and that progress towards that goal is worth as much reward as the final outcome.
3. KEEP COUNT OF YOUR LESSONS NOT YOUR MISTAKES – Mistakes are not failures they are merely feedback on what does not work for you. When things don’t go the way you want them to focus on the learning rather than your mistakes, or how you think you could have changed the outcome.
Notice what you have learnt from that disastrous date – was it that you don’t want someone who doesn’t value your time or interested in your work? What did you learn about yourself as your marriage turned to divorce – that people will often not put your interests above their own? When you lost your job – did you only then realise that you hated the job for the past year?
Acceptance is loving – It is what it is. In hindsight you may get to learn why it needed to be so – however in the moment search for comfort in what you do know. The more mistakes you perceive you have made the more feedback you have to work towards getting it right next time – and there endeth that lesson!
4. UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR ‘SELF’ NEEDS TO BE LOVED – Explore how you know when you are being loved. Do you prefer to hear love spoken? – does someone responding to your texts or calling you to see how your day is make you feel loved? Are you one of the 40% of the population who need to ‘feel’ loved via touching, hugs, kisses, hand holding or sex?
Many can easily identify how they try to show love to a partner but lack an understanding of how they themselves receive love. In my book Get Ready For Love I discuss how your Love Filter and Love Style (alongside Dr Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages) can help you to understand how you uniquely give and receive love. Take your focus away from loving someone else for a moment and focus on how you receive love.
Invest time to explore how you know when you feel loved and start giving it to yourself. If you tend to filter love through what you ‘hear’ Self Love Tip No 1 will be especially relevant to you. If your love language is gift giving then investing in a book you have wanted or a spa weekend is an excellent way of showing love for yourself. If you are an ‘acts of service person’ – run yourself a bath, light some candles and cook yourself your favourite meal this weekend.
Any good boss would never expect an employee to do something they would not do themselves – apply this to your relationship and do not expect someone else to be loving towards you if you won’t.
5. TEACH OTHERS HOW YOU NEED TO BE LOVED – Lead by example! Be mindful that the way that you love yourself (or not) gives others permission to follow your lead.
One of the most loving things you can do for yourself is to recognise and promote your boundaries. Many people unconsciously crave boundaries from others as these provide safe messages for how to interact with you. An example boundary might be: on a date bringing up that you are not interested in casual relationships and that you don’t want to waste their time if that is their need. By setting your boundaries clearly and allowing the other person to express their’s you set up a win-win situation for any future encounters.
What you need from love is as important as what you are happy to give. Don’t expect however that the other person will know what those needs are – especially if you yourself are not clear. It is part of your self-love journey to teach not only yourself how to accept love but others on how best you receive it.
Articles that TJ writes for The Love Coach cover all steps in the cycle of love and include tips and advice for many dating or relationship issues. Her experience as a Love Therapist, Love Coach and Life Coach bring a real-life approach to everyday situations.
Remember life is for loving – that includes yourself!