Loving ourselves is not about selfies and always getting our way. It’s about self-growth and independence which doesn’t need a romantic other to complete us. Many in relationships abuse and disrespect each other believing that the physical union will fix all issues. But this is unloving to the self and to others. Allowing abuse or keeping people dependent on you financially or emotionally is the opposite of growth for both parties. The one lives in need and dependence, the other thrives on being in control. Forgoing one’s own self worth needs to keep either a partner or relationship is self betrayal. For any relationship to be successful, one must include yourself among the people you love, and to love yourself means self-growth through self-respect. It is this inner quality that makes you attractive to others, not selfish demands of attention. When you grow, you encourage others to grow and your relationships become fertile grounds, which constantly harvest previously cultivated healthy crops.
“Rational, volitional love is the kind of love to which all sages have called us,” yet many misinterpret this, becoming entangled in the romantic notion that doing everything for a significant other qualifies as true love. But this is incorrect. For it is exactly when we put the needs of others before our own, that we begin to collect a deficit in our emotional bank and over time, the resentment erodes our feelings of passion slowly but surely. In Conversations with God, book two, (Walsch, 1997) the author writes “Putting yourself first does not mean being what you term “selfish” – it means being self-aware.” It is only through loving ourselves first that we experience the peaceful bliss love has to offer. When that is achieved, healthy relationships are born and sustained because inner growth comes before need. Always following someone else’s rules in order not lose a relationship is not loving to yourself or the other. That is more in the line of dependent clinging and allows both selves to damage the relationship. Yet many remain in unsatisfactory relationships because they believe loving the other first is what love is. Human nature is excellent in making up excuses as to why their significant other does not behave the way they would like them too and their ignoring the facts of their own feelings short changes both in the relationship. It is neither romantic or real love.
When we are loving to ourselves we are loving to another and as Walsch states, “it is a cultural myth that love is only about giving more so than receiving.” This is what keeps people in dysfunctional relationships, limits growth and drowns authentic listening to inner emotions. The imbalance of giving without receiving makes us unhappy, and develops unhealthy cycles of seeking attention outside of ourselves instead of attending to our inner growth deficit Endless self-sacrifice to maintain an unsustainable romantic ideal of love is an excuse to not face truth and reality. Romantic truth is found in honoring the self first. When we are capable of doing this, we offer others experience to their own individual independent growth and love becomes genuine giving, not selfish need to meet our sexual or emotional deficits.
Therefore, loving ourselves first is not selfish, or self worship. It is self respect that builds self-worth and its habit opens our eyes to better partner choices and authentic love. It simultaneously helps those who are being non-loving, work at being better people, if they are open to it. Focusing on what we are doing not the other, provides a clear sense of reality and stops us trying to find love where it isn’t available. It is the the essential step towards mature adult growth, and requires courage, self-trust and honesty.