Whenever someone asks if they have to love themselves before they can love someone else, I always find it strange and humbling. Strange because why wouldn’t you want to love yourself? Humbling because I remember when I asked myself that same question.
Relationships seemed easy as a teenager. As long as I was being fed love, I was fine. I wasn’t a jealous person. I gave people a chance even though there wasn’t a spark. At a glance, it seemed like I was a natural at relationships.
In reality, I thought of myself as unworthy of love. I gave people a chance because I assumed I was wrong to not like such a great girl. I wasn’t jealous because even getting a chance was more than I bargained for, and so my expectations were low. But I was also love addicted and I had many negative ideas about what it meant to not be loved.
My self-worth was low and I wasn’t trying to improve that. I used the positive words of others to make myself feel better as I built them up with my words.
That is the unspoken etiquette of romance between people whose self-worth could be better. “If you build me up, I build you up. That way I can feel full with all the love that I’m not giving to myself.”
When I finally realized that I really should be loving myself, I hesitated. It made sense, but what if you love yourself and you allow all the bad things about yourself to happen and hurt others?
This is the benevolent reason you don’t want to love yourself. I’ve said it and I’ve heard others say it. The truth is, people are afraid of themselves. They think that deep down they are demons ready to pillage the world if they allow themselves to be free and to accept themselves for who they are.
But here’s why that notion is mistaken. I’ll give you an example.
If you decided to love yourself and then you caught yourself saying something self-critical, would you allow yourself to believe in the criticism? Of course not. You love yourself, so that condemnation would be interrupted.
Here’s another example. If you decided to love yourself but you lied to get out of a sticky situation, would you feel good knowing that you got away with it? Again, of course not. You love yourself, so you will hold yourself accountable without beating yourself up. You made a mistake and you will know better next time.
But in these two examples, let’s say that you didn’t decide to love yourself. You already know what the outcomes would’ve been. You would’ve continued to hate on yourself and you wouldn’t have held yourself accountable for the lie you told.
Our minds would have us believe that loving ourselves means to give ourselves total freedom to do whatever we want, but because we think we are bad people which leads us to not love ourselves, we assume that loving ourselves means that we would terrorize others for our own selfish gain.
This is just a mind that still doesn’t love itself making a judgment about self-love. There’s no way such a mind would actually see the reality of what it would do when self-love is in operation.
In light of this, the only realistic option is to love yourself.
Not to mention, if you don’t decide to love yourself, what exactly is the alternative choice? To continue to hate yourself? That makes no sense! It’ll only lead you back to the decision to love yourself anyway.