Love Yourself First
By Dominik Lipinski
Very often I have a feeling that one thing is completely neglected by so many people. Also by those people who are involved with personal development. Very often I can see people seeking some 'self-growth magic pills', or hyper-modern coaching methods, when they don't even have the healthy base for personal growth. Loving yourself is such a base. By 'love' I mean state of unconditional, total 'YES' for something or someone. Love to ourselves is like an environment inside ourselves, that makes it possible for our inner self to grow and reach maturity. Quite frankly, I think a lot of people wouldn't need any sort of therapeutic or coaching techniques any more, if only they truly gave love to themselves. If we were given enough of love as a child, we usually have a healthy base, that will support us on building good relationships. If that wasn't the case however, there is important work to do - and some people don't do that work. What are results of that neglect? We could mark many of them, appearing in different areas of life. Below I'll only mark two of the most obvious.
In personal development - some methods can bring more harm than benefits, if we're not prepared for using them. There was a time I studied regressive therapy, and I was attending group therapy sessions. This method was rather brutal - it was all about very direct confrontation with the most difficult memories of the client. Sometimes it was like throwing a man into the centre of his darkest problems, of his most traumatic, bashful, unresolved events from the past. For those who are emotionally stable, feel self-secured and who attained already some successes in life, this sort of catharsis can be a truly healing experience.
But imagine a young girl, who is completely not dealing with her life, who has a huge inferiority complex, and who in her personal life is surrounded with toxic people. And such a girl comes to this sort of workshop. I saw that instead of building a solid base that would let her move away from emotional morass, she was only getting bogged down in it more and more. It was the last place she should come to. I told her she should do some work on her self-esteem and self-love first, and only after some time maybe consider regressing therapy. And here goes one important thing - it was me who did it, not the trainer who was running the whole workshop. My conclusion - if you're lacking healthy self-esteem, there will be people who will not only give you 'a medication' that in fact will be harmful to you, but they will even charge you for that.
In relationships - lack of self-love may bring you to the state I call "emotional beggar". You're (relatively) lucky if 'this person' really loves you and is able to express that. In that case you're like a beggar who was taken to someone's house, fed, and given a chance to take a bath. But you're still like a beggar. Still, if this person will leave, you'll be empty like before. There is a much worse scenario possible however. You can build a relationship with another 'emotional beggar', with a person who can't give love because he or she just hasn't got it. This person has to ask for it outside. It's a so-called 'co-dependent' relationship, a 'catch 22' situation when one wants to get from the other what neither of them has. There are even worse scenarios, when because of lack of love people accept very bad treatment... but I don't want to explore that here.
Of course, relationship is a complicated area, and there is a chance that a person who started a relationship like that, will awaken love from within, and the nature of the relation will change over time. Still, in most cases it's just not going to happen. If we haven't got the feeling inside, we can not create something good outside.
This is how the situation often looks like. People don't have the love within, and when searching for it outside, they sometimes even make things worse. What then? What should we do, if we realize that we have a room for improvement in that area? Of course there is no quick fix. These are incredibly subtle things, and it's hard to even talk about them using words. Everyone has to find his or her own way. But I think I can give you two tips that may help.
If we have some stroke of what love is, we can amplify it by meditation. If we do it regularly, it can become a stable, unconditional state. The essence of that practice is to effortlessly focus on the feeling we want to make stronger. Then we shall keep that focus for some period of time (at the beginning about 20 minutes, then longer and longer, up to one hour). To attain permanent results you need to practice on a regular basis - you won't be able to heal years of bad experiences with one session of meditation. We can also enhance our practice with such popular techniques as:
*Affirmations - repeating words that awaken feelings within us (for
example "I love you" when looking into the mirror - but you should find
your own words)
*Visualizations - envisioning love as energy flowing through our body, and filling every cell of it
*Or the technique of seeing ourselves through the eyes of someone who loves us (maybe God).
Yet inner life is not everything. If we want to build a healthy environment in our inner self, we also need to take care of our outer environment. I don't mean creating a social circle contained of so called "nice guys" only. What I do mean, is to eliminate toxic people from your life. How can anyone think that it's possible to build one's personality around the best feelings, and to express the best version of self, if one spends most of the time with people throwing their emotional garbage at him or her every day? It's impossible to go to the left and to the right at the same time. You go to the left, or you go to the right. Decide and set clear borders. If those people will not be respecting them, just look for other people to spend time with.
These are the two main things I would call the most basic. Love to ourselves is something we can work on, and every moment we spend on it will be a moment well spent.
Dominic Lipinski runs practical communication workshops on topics like sales, customer service, relaxation & meditation and public speaking.