(Reposted from an earlier writing I abandoned for a bit. Inspired to share again by a fellow kinkster, @LovelyLolaTX)
“If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else.”
“If you don’t love you, why would anyone else?”
“Learn to love yourself if you want someone to love you.”
I don’t buy it.
Not because it doesn’t hold any truth. Of course we’re more attractive when we love ourselves. Yes, loving ourselves means we’re more likely to find love. People like happy, confident people.
But I dislike the phrasing.
Firstly, it’s weirdly pressuring. “OMG, I WILL NEVER FIND LOVE BECAUSE I’LL NEVER LOVE ME.” How on earth is anybody supposed to think rationally with a brain terrified with such thoughts? That can’t be how love works, if it “works” any way at all. Brain, love yourself! No? Get a haircut. Still don’t? Okay, you failed, go back to bed. Yeah, that sounds promising.
It’s also not entirely true.
Yes, they love you when you don’t love yourself- because the reason people love you isn’t because you love you.
You see, I have found love, and I still don’t know that I can claim I love myself every day. Some days, yes. Other days, not so much. How much I love myself has nothing to do with how much love I receive, however. The people that love me don’t love me because I love me (in fact, most of them associate that self-love with narcissism, which may not be accurate either, but that is another story). The point is it’s definitely not the reason they love me. Even though they encourage me to be kind to myself. It doesn’t influence their love.
I have my One Twue Love (more, but I have that One that most of society cares about)– and I still have days where I don’t love me! Curiously enough, the people I love do not abandon me the second I have self doubt. Which is nice, because I wouldn’t do that to them. All in all, I’d say we discredit the whole theory that the un (self) loved cannot be loved by anyone else.
But what is very, very true is that Loving Ourselves often means an over focus on ourselves, which does not actually lead to happiness and contentment
The truth is the more we worry about loving ourselves, or how much we are loved, the less we actually feel loved. Because we’re too busy worrying about ourselves to do much of anything else.
But when we turn our attention to others? We feel amazing, because we are doing something amazing. And what better way to encourage our own self love than to be someone we admire and want to love? The more we help others, the more we show love to others; paradoxically, the more we love ourselves. And, naturally, the more others desire to love us. It’s a weird way of potentially being selfish, but since we all benefit, well, who cares? I’m okay with people selfishly providing love, affection, and attention in order to generate positive feelings in our own persons. It could be a hell of a lot worse.
It’s actually a pretty cool party trick.
Let’s say I’m feeling low. Let’s say that I already don’t love me. Staying with me so far? Great. Now, generally, when you don’t love yourself, you don’t feel good. You feel pretty terrible. (Still following, I hope?)
Alright, so now I’m feeling bad. I’m further reminded (if you don’t love yourself, kitten, remember that nobody else will ever love you) how I have to love myself, if anybody is ever going to love me.
Now I feel unloveable AND hopeless. By now, I’m practically convinced I can’t love myself. Therefore, following logic,- if A=B, then A=B- if I don’t love myself, than why should anyone else? If I don’t love myself, perhaps I won’t ever love anyone else.
I know this is not the intention of those words, but, nonetheless, I’m now spiraling down a dark whirlpool without a rope. Because I can’t get those words out of my head.
But let’s spin this. Instead of worrying if I love myself enough to be loved, I help my munchkins. My siblings. My friends. When I do a lot of nice things for them, they naturally do them back. Those nice things make me feel loved now, because why wouldn’t it? And now I think, Well, they love me. I must be worth being loved. You know what, I think I love me, too!
Sssshh, let me share a secret!
You want to know a secret? It’s easier to love yourself when there’s something about yourself to love. So find that something, because it’s there.
When I am wallowing in self pity, I’m at my most unattractive. I’m not attracted to self loathing folk. Why would I love that in me? And when you start helping someone, you stop wallowing. Don’t have time for it. You’re too busy being this generous, kind hearted being– and who wouldn’t love that?
This doesn’t mean you won’t have your bad days. But it does mean that on our worst days, we can breathe after and think, “What can I do to be more loving to someone else? What can I do to create something?” instead of worrying, “Am I good enough to be loved?” Who cares? We’re all good enough, or not good enough, to be loved. Being loved isn’t about deserving. There are people that get so much love that don’t deserve a smidge of it. There are people who deserve all the love in the world who get barely any. Stop worrying about deserving love, and just go out and get some!
Maybe some day you’ll get to the point where “If you want [love], love yourself” applies to you.
I mean, it’s a nice goal. I think eventually most of us will reach it, i.e. where loving ourselves more will make us more likely to find new loves. Where we’re at a good enough place that the more confidence we project, the more we find ourselves pursued.But it’s the refining touches to our own self love, not the first step! It’s not the reason we are loved in the first place, but the reason we might find ourselves loved by more than we were before.
And always, always, remember: If you’re nowhere close to loving yourself, it’s okay to redirect your efforts for a while to loving your best friend, your family, or that new person at the munch who needs a friendly guide. Save the “self care” for a day when it doesn’t leave you feeling emptier at the end of the day than the beginning (doing nothing and just taking a bath might make us feel worse not better if we’re not in a suitable headspace!). Also sometimes we all fall off the path and no matter how much we love, or have loved, ourselves, sometimes loving someone else can reignite our self love!
Maybe this doesn’t happen overnight.
Maybe this doesn’t happen in a day. Or a decade. It’s okay. Maybe you need to give yourself that boost, that self care, that self love. Hell, don’t abandon being nice to you! Just…don’t obsess about it, okay?
Remember life really is about the journey. Love yourself, absolutely love yourself. Learn to love yourself. But if it doesn’t happen “first”? Ah, well. Maybe you need to fall in love with someone else, first, before you can figure out what it even means to love you. And that’s okay.