By Linda Brown
Self -respect, self -regard, self-care – these are all different forms of self love. Self -love is an overlooked but crucial aspect to our life and well-being.
Consider if you did not have these elements in place? What would your life look like if you did not have self-respect? Self regard or self care?
True self-love is the opposite of narcissism. People who love themselves can see their own worth in all situations, even when they are challenged. They do not need to hurt others, plump themselves up or put others down. They can focus on other people because they are affirmed in themselves and are beyond self-absorption. They are not hungry for recognition, popularity, affirmation or saviour because they have already met their emotional needs.
They do not need to prove their worth through their accomplishments, as they achieve by choice (not as a substitute for human worth). People with self-love can truly give without stings attached, and when they care for another, it is in equality; help is given because they choose, not in martyrdom or to receive love, recognition or status.
If we do not have self-love intact, we can easily mistake people-pleasing for giving/helping. We may unconsciously give with expectation of some thing in return; such as appreciation or recognition. The problem with this model is that we are only in control of the first 50%. You cannot make anyone love you, like you or applaud you. Or reciprocate. If you choose to invest in any act, there needs to be joy in the process, the outcome can only be bonus.
When we are young we feel amazing just being who we are – it is more than enough. We’re amazing just for being born. Then for many, something changes: one day we perceive that we are not enough. In order to keep receiving love, we need to do a whole lot of things that keep other people happy. This can be family peace-keeping; continuous achievement; putting everyone else first; needing to be right; and many other things. These survival techniques are very entrenched through reinforcement, and become automatic ways of thinking.
While we cannot change what has happened to us, we can take responsibility for ourselves and consciously replace our patterns with those that serve us better.