Who hasn't heard: “Oh darling, you just have to love yourself a bit more.”? It’s a very trendy term but most people don’t even know what it means. Some believe the act of pampering yourself is self-love, but it could turn into a very expensive way of developing self-love. Actually, self-love is much more and deeper than giving yourself a treat.
Lack of self-love affects your self-esteem however, they are quite different. Self esteem is how you feel about yourself. Self-love is loving yourself unconditionally like you’d love your child (or niece or nephew if you haven't got children).
Naturally, to feel good about yourself and have high self-esteem, you must love yourself unconditionally.
Self love and your relationship
When it comes to relationships, and everything in life for that matter, like attracts like. So if you don't love yourself unconditionally, you’ll likely attract a less than ideal partner or no partner at all.
After all, we all want to feel and be loved unconditionally and you can’t get what you can’t give because you can’t give what you haven’t got yourself.
If you are in a relationship, lack of self-love can push you away from your partner due to the non-acceptance of each other's faults.
And, if you are single and struggling to find a partner, no matter how much you want to be in a relationship - while you reject yourself, you’ll only encounter rejection.
Romantic or not, all relationships are a mirror of our own selves that we all could, and should, use and be grateful for.
If you don't have a partner right now, you can still look back and reflect on your past relationships, or use your boss, colleagues or friends as your mirror. All mirrors are an opportunity to know yourself better, learn and grow. Whether you take that opportunity is up to you.
Your partner is a mirror that allows you to see your own flaws, something you dislike or would like to change or improve about you.
Self love and your sex life
When you lack self love, there are parts of you that you loathe or dislike or would like to change. This can be physically, emotionally or mentally.
Of course, when talking about relationships the first thing that comes to mind for everyone is the physical aspect, your looks. But isn't it true that there are many women you'd view as less attractive than you and who are enjoying a loving relationship?
You may be spending a lot of time and/or money making sure that your makeup hides any imperfection, that your bra keeps the sunken titanic afloat and opulent, that the shaping underwear doesn’t roll down letting the muffin tops out, or simply hiding it all under baggy clothes or dieting constantly.
Now, bring any of those issues into the bedroom and, what do you have? A fire extinguisher! How can you have hot, steamy and horny sex when you don’t bear it all out and show yourself just as you are and be proud of it. How can you enjoy the embrace and touch of your partner when you don’t accept your beauty?
How to love yourself
If you are looking to improve your relationship or find the right partner for you, the first step is to love yourself. And I hear you ask: “But how do you do that? Well, since you have to learn to love the whole of you, the first step is to know who you are.
1.- Self awareness
The first thing you need is self-awareness. Self-awareness is an awareness of one's own personality or individuality. The most important thing self-awareness provides to a relationship is it helps in understanding your feelings.
Whatever irritates you the most about your partner, that's the best place to get started. You may dislike his lack of punctuality. So ask yourself whether you have the same trait (eg he's always waiting on you because you take too long to get ready), or you have the opposite trait (eg you are too controlling or a perfectionist).
Whatever the case is, if this is something that irritates you and leads to arguments, then check in with yourself before pointing the finger at him and starting an argument. Be honest with yourself.
It's so much easier to blame others than to take responsibility for your own feelings. His behaviour is provoking a reaction in you and it's your responsibility to explore this reaction, and where it comes from, so you can decide what to do about it if you want to change it. Your feelings control your behaviour and your mirror is giving you an invaluable insight.
Since you understand yourself better, you know what you are looking out for and what you can offer to a relationship.
2.- Self acceptance
This leads to the next step, self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is basically the realistic awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses, a mental process of accepting your flaws and being comfortable in your own skin.
When you identify and accept your weaknesses, only then, you can decide which ones you (and your partner) can live with in the relationship and which ones you want to improve, always from a place of love, not criticism or comparison. This means that, even when you don't get it right, you appreciate your effort and congratulate yourself for it and what it has taught you.
Being open, vulnerable, and expressing your insecurities to your partner, will allow you to support each other and also come to realise that there are things he admires in you that you didn't even know!
Self acceptance applies to your strengths too. Know your strengths and be proud of your them, appreciate other people recognising them, accept their compliments and, last but not least, praise yourself.
3.- Time for some action
Now that you are clear on the changes you want to implement, it's time to do something about it and to appreciate, forgive and love yourself all along the way, because the way you treat yourself is the way other people treat you and no one can love you better than you love yourself.
Set your standards and balance. When you love yourself, you have a standard of what a balanced give and take is. You'll find you have no time for people who add no value to your life and you will demand what you deserve, because only you are responsible for keeping your cup full so you can give to the right person.
Make yourself whole. Maintain your individuality and independence having your own interests, activities and rituals. You are in a relationship to enhance each other, not to depend on each other.
Do what makes you happy. This is where the pampering comes in! And surround yourself by people who make you happy and feed positive energy into your life. If you allow your happiness to depend on what other people do or don't do, you'll be sacrificing yourself.
Praise yourself. Nothing will change your life like the words you tell yourself. Keep reminding yourself of the truth about you, that YOU are ENOUGH just as you are. Write I am ENOUGH on your mirrors, post it notes around your home, your screen saver, you phone background cover... anywhere and everywhere so it sinks in and becomes your truth.
When you are comfortable with who you are, you relax more, your smile is natural and you are not afraid to make eye contact with others, it gets so much easier to approach and be approached people!
Self love dismantles insecurities and strengthens relationships, allowing two people to come together as happy individuals, who can nurture each other and the relationship equally.
Treat yourself with the same care, love and attention you treat your partner. Become your best friend, because you are the one friend you will always have a relationship with.
Eradicating the emotional root cause of your love issues can help you improve your relationship or find the right partner for you.