If that isn’t a loaded statement, I don’t know what it is. How often do we hear people talk about how important it is to love ourselves? If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be able to love others; I’ve heard that cliché more times than I can count. Don’t forget the ever popular, “Someone else can’t love you if you don’t love yourself”. Does anybody else ever get frustrated when you hear that?
So I decided, in my infinitely analytical mind, to think about this and try to see how I can love myself. Is it really that difficult of a concept to grasp or do we just make it more difficult than it should be?
Perhaps the answer isn’t quite that clear cut. After all, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, bullying, and narcissistic parenting, I’ve learned to not trust people. Throw in the failed marriages and the loss of a good friend to suicide a long time ago and it’s a recipe for the most distrustful dish you can imagine.
How does a lack of trust fit into this concept of loving yourself? Here’s how I see that being true…
Essentially you don’t trust anyone therefore it’s more difficult to love someone fully, and if you aren’t trusting others and loving others, how can you love yourself?
On that note, we as survivors don’t trust ourselves quite often. At least I don’t. I have no faith in my judge of character when it comes to love. That’s brutally honest right there. This comes from the failed relationships and lack of validation from when I was a child. It also ties back to the bullying. It seems to me that since more often than not those that I have trusted have hurt me; therefore something must be wrong with me, right?
How easy is it to fall into that mindset?! Extremely easy, unbelievably easy!
There are only a handful of people, literally, that I can say have never hurt me…or at least not hurt me to the point of no longer speaking to them. I am very willing to forgive, but even I have my limits. Seems odd to say that I am forgiving when I have such trust issues. I think that stems from my desire to be loved and cared for that I’m willing to extend the olive branch of forgiveness and kindness. That has gotten me in trouble though and made me gun shy, so I am more aware of how much I extend myself these days.
“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” – Yeah that’s me alright! That’s also a great song too!
So, I have trust issues, I have problems receiving affection and concern from others, so how in the world am I supposed to love myself? Maybe you feel this way too?
In order to work through this a bit, it’s going to take the use of Rational Mind, some logic, and some compassion for where I’ve been. Using all of that I should be able to come up with some ways to love myself now and in the future.
How much of the abuse was my own fault; should I still carry the blame for what that teenager did to me when I was 5-10 years old? I find this question quite difficult because I do blame myself, I blame that inner child. However, he doesn’t deserve that blame. He was a good kid, just trying to fit in and find validation among friends and family. He should be worthy of love; he wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone; then or now.
Let’s look for a minute at some good qualities that, if I use an open mind, I can rationalize. I’m a loyal person and I don’t betray the trust of others. If you tell me something in confidence, it stays with me and goes nowhere else. I’m a good listener and I have compassion for others. I know what it’s liked to be treated like a door mat and to be abused, so I realize the importance of genuine concern, honest compassion, and treating others with the respect they deserve.
I have a very sarcastic sense of humor, quick witted, and I’m a pretty funny guy. I think that’s a neat combination of qualities to have. My sarcasm is never used to intentionally hurt people though, but I do enjoy using it in general conversation (and also as a defense mechanism). That’s a whole other story though.
I’m a good dad and love my kids more than anything. All 3 of them are awesome and unique in their own way.
I have a passion for survivors, I can fully admit that proudly, and proclaim to anyone that survivors are amazingly strong, resilient, and wonderful people. Anytime I get a chance to interact with someone who’s been through similar circumstances as I have; I feel a kinship with them. I know we can relate to each other.
Some other ways I can love myself would be, to not be so self-critical about my appearance. I am who I am, take it or leave it. Also to not worry so much about what others think. I say that because I don’t really care what people think of me outwardly. Like my tattoos, jewelry, and music, or don’t like it, I’m fine with that. I am concerned with how people view me internally though. What am I really about inside? Does the walled exterior really give an accurate portrayal of who I am on the inside? No, it doesn’t. You might consider checking a recent video I did about being labeled.
Some other ways would be to validate yourself by realizing how far you’ve come so far in your survivor journey. Also to surround yourself with uplifting, positive people, and put up healthy boundaries towards those that would strive to tear you down and invalidate you.
After all that, there’s no reason I shouldn’t love myself is there? There’s no reason you shouldn’t love yourself either! It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through in the past; it doesn’t define you. My past doesn’t define me. That’s an important thing that I need to assure myself of every single day. I still have a lot of issues believing it, trust me on that, but in time I will get there.
We deserve to love ourselves! Our inner child deserves it. If we can consider all of the good things about us, in an honest and objective way, we can see what we have to offer the world. If we can offer those good things to the world, we can offer those things to ourselves.