At some point in our lives, we've all been told that we need to love ourselves before we can love others. This is just one of those frustrating pieces of advice that people often reach for if you're going through a breakup or are experiencing a generally hard time, and the worst thing about it is that the people who say it will rarely elaborate. Why? Because they're probably just telling you what someone else told them at a similar time, but the good news is that this lack of explanation doesn't mean this isn't still some of the best advice you've ever been given.
After all, clichés become just that because they're valid, and loving yourself first truly is the answer to forming more valid, satisfying relationships in general. Luckily, we aren't just going to tell you that much and run away. Instead, we're going to be the ones to finally delve into this advice that has plagued you for all of these years by considering, once and for all, the surprising ways that loving yourself can genuinely help you to love others.
We can all be incredibly unkind to ourselves when we haven't learned the art of self-love. In fact, regardless of how nice we are to the people around us, it's not unusual for us to berate ourselves, or even put ourselves at risk with addiction or other reckless behaviors such as drunk driving when we don't have that level of care. In each instance, it's our loved ones who have to deal with this burden by either seeking help on our behalf or dealing with the repercussions of our careless actions, such as a wrongful death lawyer seeking justice for something we've done. That's not fair, and it's no way to encourage positive relationships.
By comparison, even simple acts of self-love can significantly boost the kindness we express to ourselves, making us far more likely to stay home and take a quiet bath in place of going out and putting ourselves at risk. Equally, acts of self-kindness including buying ourselves gifts or taking ourselves out for a dinner date now and again can help to keep us smiling, and ensure that our loved ones are more likely to smile as a result.
As much as people might love us, no one enjoys spending time around a friend who does nothing but complain. As well as being dull to listen to, this kind of self-hatred can sap the energy of those around us, either leaving them feeling as down as we do, or meaning that they have to get away before that happens. The trouble is that, if we don't do anything to turn around how we feel about ourselves, our worldly outlook is unlikely to ever get out of the gutter for long enough to see the stars.
By comparison, self-love practices including meditation and yoga can make a huge difference in changing our outlooks in general and ensuring that we nurture a more positive attitude overall. And, once we feel positive about ourselves and our situations, we're far better able to spread that same brightness to other people through positive affirmations, a kind listening ear, and just advice that sticks to the positives. All of which means that our loved ones will be better off for knowing us, and will actively want to spend more time in our presence.
While self-love is sometimes mistakenly considered a conceited pursuit, the reality is that we're far more likely to be self-absorbed and outright selfish when we're stuck in negative personal spirals. After all, no one spends longer worrying about themselves than someone who feels negatively about their actions or appearance. Far from seeing the people around you for who they are, or dedicating the time necessary to uphold those relationships, you're at real risk of either putting things off because that's what suits you or worse, spending the entire time talking about yourself and your insecurities.
By instead learning to accept who you are, both through positive self-talk and calming, grounding practices like meditation, it's possible to put self-doubts to rest, and thus stop thinking about yourself half as much. Instead, you'll be able to feel confident and assured in the things that once took up so much of your headspace, meaning that you'll finally be free to listen to what other people are saying without that constant distraction from the voice of doubt in the back of your head.
When we don't love ourselves, we increase our expectations of the people around us to both lift us and love us in the ways we feel that we deserve. This is true in terms of the increased help we may need as discussed in the first section, but it's also true in a more general sense when we place all of our self-worth on outside sources who can never truly meet our internal expectations.
By comparison, taking the time to treat yourself and give yourself the level of love that you require means that you're far less likely to pile unrealistic expectations on the people around you. Instead, you'll be able to approach every relationship with your well of love already full, meaning that you won't expect anything, and will instead take the time to see people for who they truly are, and how that complements the love you already have, rather than providing you with something that you're missing. When all is said and done, this is the secret to loving others in the best possible way for both them and you, and it's only possible when you realize that you're capable of loving yourself better than anyone else ever could.
Is self-love easy? Not at all. Is it a benefit worth pursuing anyway? We would argue yes if you want to love others in even half of these great ways!