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Self-love : the foundation for good relationships

The quality of your relationships with others will tend to mirror your relationship with yourself. If you own, accept and celebrate all aspects of who you are you will naturally open your heart to others, and treat them with respect, kindness and inclusiveness.If you have self-love you will honor yourself, recognize your unique gifts and talents and show your appreciation for these gifts through generous acts of sharing. Similarly you will naturally appreciate and accept the uniqueness of others.

If on the other hand you are self critical and deny your inherent goodness/value this is the lens through which you will view others. You will tend to judge and find fault, with inevitable consequences for the quality of your relationships.

Non judgement is an essential feature of all mutually supportive friendships. When it comes to intimate relationships, you are more likely to attract someone with the capacity to show you ‘unconditional love’ if you have already learned to love yourself unconditionally. This does not mean loving everything you do, but it does mean developing a capacity for self forgiveness, recognizing that we all make mistakes.

So do you love yourself? For example – do you pay attention to and look after your physical and mental well being ? Do you pamper yourself? Do you maintain appropriate personal boundaries ? Is your self talk /the way you talk about yourself to others affirming?

Self-love is not egotism, in fact it is the very opposite. Some seek to hide the hole they feel inside (absence of self-love) through wearing masks of various kinds such as displays of confidence, superiority, arrogance and accumulating the trappings of success.

There is also the ‘closet’ egotist who gets a sense of superiority from non engaging with others. This can be unconsciously motivated by a fear of being hurt, due to past experience. Having meaningful relationships involves taking some risks. While you need to exercise discretion, if you are not open to sharing your thoughts and feelings your relationships may be shallow and superficial.

A good test for how you rate under the heading of self-love is the extent to which you are motivated in what you do out of a need for the approval of others. Making your happiness dependent on the approval of others, over which you have no control*, is a stressful and precarious way to live ! Far better to be comfortable with the essence of who you are, and to reach out to others from a place of personal security.

*Likewise it is unwise to make your happiness dependent on others behaving in a particular way. 

In identifying what issues you may have with self-love it is useful to reflect on your upbringing, in that what we experience and live during our formative years we learn to accept as truth, and then adopt as  behaviors. Some examples :

– if criticized as a child you will learn to condemn as an adult
– if you lived with fear you will be apprehensive
– if you were pitied you learn to feel like a victim
– if you were shamed as a child you will feel guilt as an adult

Of course, the opposite is also true :
– if encouraged as a child you will grow up confident
– if praised as a child you will be appreciative as an adult
– if you experienced sharing you will learn to be generous
– if you felt secure as a child you will  have faith in yourself and others as an adult
– if you experienced serenity as a child you will have peace of mind as an adult

Parents please note !

So if you want better relationships the essential starting point is to reflect honestly on your stock of self- love, and use this awareness to enhance the way you perceive, nurture and care for yourself.


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