Self love can be perceived and actioned in many different ways, it’s talked about a lot but I just don’t think it’s talked about in the right ways. It’s not about anything other than giving yourself the love, kindness and friendship FIRST that we so desperately seek in other people nowadays. The idea of falling in love and living happily ever after with our soulmate is so romanticised to us throughout our whole lives that most humans don’t feel complete without another person to share their daily experiences with, without this secondary gratification that we get from this other person, it’s almost as if the events we experience aren’t as important. This is not only referring to a relationship in the romantic sense, it includes all types of human relationships.
Think about it like this:
You’ve just finished your final exam, what’s the very first thing you do?
You’ve just heard an amazing song, what’s the very first thing you do?
You’ve just seen something incredible, what’s the very first thing you do?
You’ve just taken a photo of yourself that you love, what’s the very first thing you do?
The answer is always going to be one of the following:
Whilst on the one hand there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having the power to share your experiences with others. It also becomes a huge problem in our lives (especially in this day and age) when it’s the first thing we think to do when experiencing anything. It’s almost as if admiring your own photo or being proud of how you performed in an exam or enjoying a song or a moment with yourself just isn’t enough anymore, you always want and need that secondary gratification to assure you that whatever it is, is indeed special and without this, without the likes and without the pat on the back - This event looses value to you. This is because we very much live with a lack of self worth nowadays, most of the time without even knowing we’re doing it. We allow ourselves and our achievements to be measured by the appreciation we get (or don’t get) from others.
In essence, if we can work on demolishing our needs to seek secondary gratification, and instead begin to value and cherish our own opinions then we can begin the journey of independence and self love.
We spend a lot of our lives looking for that person. The one who walks into our lives and suddenly everything makes sense. You imagine what they’ll be like and fantasise about who the ideal human that could love you would be..But all of these fantasies and perfect soulmates share the very same attributes; we all just want someone who will love us back and who’ll commit to us, someone we can trust and feel safe and at ease with, a real life partner that we can take on the world with because at the end of the day, this is the perfect kind of love. The happily ever after Disney kind of love, because without these key factors a relationship cannot be healthy. And now you’ll notice, once you’ve established that all of these factors would indeed be on your list of what your own perfect partner would have, that they are in fact things you can give to yourself. Until we can experience each one of these without it being given to us from another person, we will never truly be able to experience them because you cannot base your happiness on a temporary source.
Every human being you will meet throughout your entire existence is temporary and this is an important lesson to remember every single day and within every single relationship whether it be romantic or not. Attachment leads to suffering. This is a key Buddhist teaching and applies perfectly here. It’s the fear of loosing people that we’ve become dependant on and attached to that leads to the pain that we often refer to as ‘Heartbreak’ - We experience this because we were basing our sole feelings of love and happiness onto another being and making it their responsibility to keep giving it. So if they were our only source for these feelings, then without them we feel the daunting absence of this love, happiness and security that they provided for us. So instead of realising it’s something that we in fact posses ourselves already and working on this, we go out and look for the next love of our life who can bring these emotions with them and so the cycle continues.
I was comforting my friend the other day because she was upset talking about a guy she was seeing and how she was devastated about some argument they’d had, she was worrying she wasn’t good enough for him and that she thought he may be playing her around. Now I’m sure anyone whose given advice to a heartbroken friend before will agree, it’s so much fucking easier to see it all for what it really is when you aren’t going through it, you almost want to shake them! I was in shock that anyone could think so little of themselves that they would actually think they could be classed as a lesser being than another. I didn’t want to give her advice on how to work it out with him, this would be encouraging her to carry on trying to seek her love and happiness from within him instead of finding her own.. So instead I explained it to her in the cringiest but most digestible way possible
“Think of yourself as the cake and he’s the sprinkles, like yeah he can give you a bit of added flavour and change it up a bit, but at the end of the day, you pretty much taste the same without it and even if you don’t have his sprinkles, you’re still a whole fucking cake”
It was like a moment of realisation for me (and her hopefully) - That I had been trying to sprinkle myself over other people’s fucking cakes instead of realising that I just am a whole cake, we all are! Just like the way healthy relationships should enhance your life, and even if they’re not forever, they shouldn’t take anything away from you. You shouldn’t give anyone the power to do this. They can give you some added happiness and love whilst they’re there, but they aren’t permanent and you’re still a sick cake without their temporary sprinkles.
"Be so full that even if they take and take and take, you can still be overflowing" - Alison Malee
- Brooke Berry