[This is my Valentines post for this year. We are always looking out for love from our partner and from other people. We oftentimes forget a basic truth about love: that it starts with loving yourself, or it doesn’t work. – editor]
While many of us look for love from a partner and mate, we often miss out on the person who has some amazing love to give, and who is amazing: the person looking back at us from the mirror.
If we fall in love with ourselves — not in a selfish way, but in an appreciative way — we will discover a source of love that doesn’t run out.
I’ve heard the question, “How can we expect others to love us if we can’t love ourselves?” And while there’s truth to this, it’s also true that often others do love us even if we don’t love ourselves — they see the awesome within us, even if we don’t.
The problem is that if we don’t love ourselves, this leads to problems: a lack of self-confidence, insecurities and jealousies, self-dislike, unhappiness, and so on. If we allow this cycle of negativity to continue, we might behave in ways that push others away — and then that love from others that we crave might not be around for long.
So loving ourselves is important from that angle. But it’s also important even if we take others out of the equation: who are we with the most? Ourselves. And if we’re the person who keeps us company all the time, isn’t it important that we appreciate the beauty within, if we want to be happy? How can we be happy if the person we’re always with doesn’t really like us?
In contrast, if we learn to love ourselves, then we’ll always be around someone who loves us, and be happier … we’ll be more confident, secure, positive, fun. Let’s look at how to do that.
What is Falling in Love?
What happens when we fall in love with someone else? There’s no single right answer to that question, perhaps, but here’s a rough outline of what might happen:
1. We meet someone interesting. They might be interesting for physical reasons (attractiveness), but it can also be that they have a sharp mind, a great sense of humor, a great attitude towards life, a wide variety of skills or experiences, common interests, a kind heart, etc.
2. We get to know them. We start to learn more about the person, beyond the initial physical impression, beyond what we can see from a first meeting. The more we know, the more we might want to find out more.
3. We appreciate the little things. This person might not be “perfect” but even the little imperfections seem perfect. We accept this person, greatness and flaws alike, and appreciate all of it.
4. We start to trust. As we get to know this person, we learn that he or she is trustworthy, not someone who will easily hurt us. This trust-building is an important process, and takes time — we trust a little, then the other person trusts a little too … then we trust a little more, and the other person does too.
5. We get love from them, and return it. Giving and receiving love is a part of the falling in love process, obviously — we tend to love someone if they love us.
This is a general process that’s not set in stone, but I think these elements are in most relationships where people fall in love with each other. And they can be used consciously to fall in love with ourselves.
How to Start
So how do we start falling in love with ourselves? It seems unlikely to many people, and possibly a little silly. It’s not silly, though: it’s simply a process of introspection and appreciation, and it’s very possible.
Start with the first step in the process above — meet someone interesting! That person is you, of course, but how often do we stop to look at what’s interesting about ourselves?
So take some time this week to do these things:
1. Meet the interesting person within you. Close your eyes for a few minutes and look within — what are you like? What is good about you? What do you like to do, to eat, to play? What music do you like? What are your interests, your passions, your accomplishments? Don’t be critical at this point — find the interesting in you. It’s there, if you look.
2. Get to know this cool person. It’s possible you don’t know the answers to some of the questions in the previous step — so find out! Over the next few days (and weeks), explore yourself. Find out what you like, what music you like, what your passions are. Look within and find out your desires, dreams, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and all that’s good within you.
3. Appreciate the little things. You might not be “perfect” but even the little imperfections can be perfect. Start to learn to accept this interesting person, greatness and flaws alike, and appreciate all of it. This might mean putting aside the judgments of yourself, and saying, “This is what makes you … you. And because of that, it is perfect and great.”
An Ongoing Romance
The three steps above are a great start, and in fact you can keep doing them for weeks, and months, and for the rest of your life. They’re always good things to do, always.
But there’s more. You should also explore these steps:
1. Start to trust. As you get to know this cool person within, start to see that you are trustworthy. You will not hurt yourself, or abandon yourself. This trust-building process takes time — trust a little, see that the trust is warranted, trust a little more. Seek to be worthy of that trust.
2. Give love. Give yourself love just as fully as you would give love to a lover, a child, a parent or sibling. You are capable of great love, and you are worthy of that great love. Do seemingly silly things like hug yourself, tell yourself daily that you love yourself, that you’re beautiful and strong and great.
This process doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s important.
You can do all kinds of things with yourself to learn more about what’s within, to begin to trust and appreciate and love yourself. Go on dates with yourself, exercise, explore hobbies and interests, do things for yourself, choose things that you like.
In this process, have fun, and get to know the lovable person within. That person is great, and worthy of every ounce of your love.
Originally posted in ZenHabits.Net.
by Leo Baubata