Are you looking for love in the wrong place?
If you have grown up in an environment where you were not shown love, it can be hard to love yourself. After all, can you love someone (you) when no one has shown you love? As it was your parents’ responsibility to love, nurture, and protect you. If they have not done so, you will begin to lack self-identity and may attract people that may reinforce the negative emotions associated with low self-esteem.
You may also begin to love others more than yourself, by investing time and energy hoping to receive the love which you never received from your childhood. This process is very damaging and can lead to more separation from your true self.
Everyone needs to be loved, and if you did not receive this when growing up, you need to stop looking for it from people or things. Your past is behind you and your future is ahead. Hence, you are the only person that is responsible for loving, caring and nurturing yourself. If you don't, sadly, no else can.
Remember that the way people treat you is the reflection of how you treat yourself. If you have been in abusive or negative relationships, then it is time to take a step back and ask yourself "Am I really loving the real me?" and "How am I contributing to the way others treat me?".
The more you love yourself, the more love and respect you will receive from others.
Most people want to be in a relationship, but you cannot really get the relationship you deserve until you have a good relationship yourself. It is not someone else's responsibility to make you happy. You need to begin to take responsibility for your life.
Sometimes people spend so much time trying to control others in exchange for love and lose their self-identity in the process. As a result of this, they would rather spend more time investing in other people’s growth than their own.
These individuals pursue relationships, unconsciously hoping to change their spouse to the way that they would like them to be and often get frustrated when they can see no change. The reality is you can never change anyone, and the fact that you want to control others simply means that you are not in control of yourself.
How to truly begin to love yourself
Learn to trust yourself
It’s important to begin to make simple decisions for yourself, instead of depending on others to make decisions for you. Indecisiveness causes doubt and you cannot truly trust people if you constantly doubt yourself.
It doesn't matter if the decisions that you make are wrong; it's all about having the ability to grow as an individual.
When other people make decisions for you, they are determining your future and you will always be reliant on them, which can lead to codependent relationships. Trusting yourself is the foundation of establishing a relationship with yourself. The more you know who you are, the more you will understand the power within and the special unique gifts that you have, rather than looking at how wonderful other people are.
Learn to understand your emotions
Emotions are very powerful and if you don't understand them, they can control you and could lead to negative emotional well-being. Your emotions represent who you are. The first step to understanding your emotions (which is not always easy) is learn to sit with your vulnerabilities, such as; fear, sadness, pain, guilt, anger and other insecurities. The more you begin to sit with emotional discomfort the stronger you will become. Vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. You could delay emotional growth if you use people, TV, drugs, sex and alcohol to numb your emotions.
Facing the emotional pain with the right support and techniques will become easier and easier, instead of suppressing them. Personal insecurities will always follow you wherever you go like a shadow and the reality is, you can run away from everyone but you can't run away from who you are. Another useful technique is keeping a journal of your thoughts and emotions. This method helps you to understand yourself, in a reflective way. It is also an excellent way to monitor your personal development and growth.
Create some me time
It is very important to enjoy your own company rather being fully reliant on others. After all, if you do not enjoy your own company, how can you expect others to? If you are the type of person who doesn't enjoy your own company, it's never too late to begin. Start doing things that you enjoy, such as reading, going for walks, taking long baths with candles and some occasional quiet time to reflect. I can appreciate how difficult it can be to spend time alone, but with regular practice and commitment, you will soon begin to break free from distracting yourself from the real you.
Pursue your goals
A goal without action is a dream. There is nothing worse than settling for less in life and doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Life without a vision or direction is empty. It's like going on journey without a destination.
When setting goals it is best to make them realistic and achievable. You can begin with small goals than expand to bigger ones, once you are more comfortable. I recommend writing your goals and placing them somewhere visible. You can set also reminders on your mobile device, to do something small each day towards your goal.
Remember, no matter how long or challenging it may seem, never give up. Just keep going and you will get there.
Gratitude is essential for maintaining positive emotional well-being. It helps you appreciate what you have instead of, constantly wanting more. Keeping a gratitude diary helps you to see your life from a different perceptive and will enable you to have a positive mind set, regardless of any challenges that you face in life.
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Tracy Foster, Dip.Couns (MBACP)February 17th, 2017
Priscilla Short. BSc, MA, MBACP, MBPsSFebruary 19th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
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