Today I received a letter from a friend who wrote, “I have no idea what love is… I tend to ‘love’? whoever shows me the slightest affection.”
A male client recently revealed his true sentiments about relationships when he said, “I really don’t want a relationship or sex. What I really want is my mother to love me.”
I believe many people feel this way because they do not know how to love themselves. We have been taught that it is more important to love others and God before we love ourselves. This belief is so ingrained that sometimes a voice shouts, “But it’s vain to love yourself!
When I say to people that they need to learn to love themselves, I don’t suggest that they spend hours in front of a mirror admiring their external image, but that they face their fears and work through all the negative emotions and thoughts that push love away.
Upon a foundation of fear, negative perspectives build a structure which houses judgment, guilt, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, worry, anxiety, shame, anger, and hate. Although the building is full, we feel empty. The interesting thing is that the more negativity we cram into this space, the more emptiness we feel inside.
Then we seek to fill ourselves up with food, alcohol, drugs, material goods, sex, someone to ‘love’ us.
The inability to love ourselves is what causes the feeling of emptiness. When we live in fear and constant worry generated from negative thoughts, love cannot enter our domain. When we filter our interactions with others through all our negative “stuff,” we cannot hear clearly their loving words and often misinterpret their caring and loving actions.
But when we love ourselves, our hearts open to allow love to flow to others. Within loving acts of giving – even a kind word at the right moment – we can experience the euphoric feeling of being full to overflowing.
First published in the Ballarat News, August 03, 1994