There is a phrase that I have always struggled with. Even though I know it is a positive concept, it just kind of makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
That phrase? “Love yourself.”
Why does it bother me?
I have seen people who use this phrase in a way that is more like infatuation than love. Infatuation is that wonderful blast of happiness in the beginning of a relationship when this new, amazing person in your life can do no wrong. You put them on a pedestal. They are perfect. It is a love with no judgment, only acceptance and accolades. This approach to “love yourself” means that you think you’re amazing, nothing is ever your fault, you have no need to change and no need to grow because you are perfect… in your “you-ness.”
Have you met this person? Not very endearing.
I have also seen people who love themselves so much, they feel they are more important than anyone else. Their excuse for never thinking of anyone but themselves is that they are loving themselves and this is what is most important. Ugh!
I have seen it sold as a panacea. If you just love yourself, everything will be fine, everything will be easy, your troubles will go away and every day will be rainbows and unicorns. Yeah…right.
These interpretations are what have made me cringe, but I think I have figured out an approach to this phrase that works for me:
“You are just as valuable as anyone else and deserve the same treatment you would give someone in your life that you love and respect.”
The first part, “You are just as valuable as anyone else.” To me this means that you are not more valuable than the other person, so you do not disrespect others. You do not demand things of them, you do not assume they are there just to cater to you and you think before you speak, because you do not want to offend them.
You are JUST AS valuable as them, not more.
Likewise, if you are just as valuable as anyone else, you will only accept being treated with this same equality. You would not tolerate being belittled or treated poorly. You conduct yourself with a dignity that comes from knowing that your worth is dependent only on you and no one else.
You are JUST AS valuable as they are.
The second part: You deserve the same treatment you would give someone in your life that you love and respect. Think of this as treating yourself as a good friend you love and have known your whole life.
If they are a dear friend, you are not going to beat them up forever about a mistake they made, (but we do it to ourselves).
If they are a dear friend you would see the innate goodness of their heart (and you need to believe in the goodness of your own).
When they make mistakes you would believe they are worth forgiving, (and you need to forgive yourself).
You would believe that with time and effort, they can grow to be the person you know they can be (you have to believe you are capable of growing as well).
You deserve the same treatment you would give someone in your life that you love and respect.
Beating yourself up will not make things better. Ignoring what needs to be done will not make things better.
Be a good friend to yourself.
Quit beating yourself up about things in the past.
Know that you are worth forgiving.
Be honest with yourself about things you need to change.
Believe that you are capable of growth.
Believe that you are a good person who is worth the effort.
Everyone needs a line of people in their life they can count on. Maybe it’s best if the first person in that line is you.