“Love yourself first so you are strong enough to take care of the people who need you.”

ELIZABETH ROEBUCK-JONES

There are so many articles out there that tell you that you should love yourself first before you can love anyone else. I would go further than that to say that unless you love yourself, you cannot be there for the people who need you.

Now that is something I am sure that grabbed your attention. As many of you I know, give and give and give to make sure you care for all of the special people in your life. Isn’t that loving them and being there for them? Yes, it is…..but I want to explain to you why it is a form of love that in the long run is incomplete and unsustainable.

If you don’t love yourself, you run the risk of needing love to fill an enormous void inside you. Instead of being in a relationship with someone because you want to have them in your life for all the right reasons, you love someone because of what they can give you. You need them to love you in a way that fills that empty space for you to love them back. The problem with this approach is that if the person you love is unable to give you what you need you can find yourself running on empty. Now I am not saying you should love someone no matter how they behave towards you, or course we all need love that is reciprocated. But if you love someone in a needy way – that is you need them to demonstrate their love, each and every time you are with them, if you need them to always be there for you it can make loving you incredibly exhausting. A classic example of this is when we expect our life partner to be our lover friend and our therapist. It is too much to expect from one person and eventually will exhaust the person we are with. You need to love yourself, this means building your self-reliance and capacity to soothe yourself so that you can love unconditionally. This means not needing someone to love you back, to always be there for you or loving them just so that they will love you back.

If you don’t love yourself, you effectively are not happy in your own skin. Keeping yourself busy is a way you can over function loving others and distract yourself from our inner feelings about you. If your children keep you busy, you can easily fill your life loving and caring for then, because they need you to love them unconditionally. The problem is children, as part of the process of growing up need us….a lot. If you don’t pace yourself and take time out to love yourself, you can love your children into burnout. If you become burnt out, you are not a good mum because you are not your best self. If you are burnt out, you don’t present your best self to your children. You also are not teaching them boundaries, children need to learn their limits with others first by learning limits with family. You teach your children to love, by how you love them. If you get burnt out one of the first things to fail will be your health. How can be there for your children if you are unwell? Most importantly you are not Wonder Woman, and while you might be there for your children logistically, you need to pace yourself so that can continue to be there for the long haul. Physical love is important such as good food, clean clothes, going to school. But loving children is more than just making sure they are safe, it is about being there for them emotionally, and if you don’t love yourself how can you tune into yourself to be there for your children on that deeper level.

Over functioning in our life is a way of loving others that can help us to avoid thinking about ourselves. If you are anxious about whether your partner will love you, because after all how can they love you if you don’t love yourself……Then you can find yourself doing too much to make the relationship work. You risk smothering the relationship because there is no room for your partner to make decisions, relax or be themselves. Ultimately you aren’t really being yourself either, because you are too busy pleasing others.

If you don’t love yourself, you can find that you do things for friends to convince them to love you. You can find yourself feeling very disappointed when friends do not reciprocate. If you love someone with conditions you set yourself up to be disappointed, and you create a friendship with expectations, if people cannot just be themselves with you, a friendship will be exhausted. Instead set your boundaries, wait for mutual understanding between you about what the friendship will be. Reach out to show you care in simple ways with no expectation.

Self-love is incredibly important because it enables you to tune into yourself and tune into life. If you love yourself first you are in a relationship with your partner as an equal, there is no burden, there is no expectation. This doesn’t mean you should relax your boundaries, it means you need t be super clear about what is ok for you, it means you need to prioritise and develop boundaries that include being there for yourself. If you love yourself you teach your children to have appropriate boundaries, and you love them, not just logistically, not just with words but emotionally and spiritually. You love them enough to have them close and can love enough to let them go. If you love yourself first, you build self-reliance and can have others in your life for who they are and not what they can give you in return for what you do for them. If you love yourself, you can self-soothe, you can fill your own love tank and be in the world in a way that allows others to freely love you, and you to love them in return.

 

I empower women to make educated relationship choices, rather than change for their partner.

Choose, Don’t Change

With Love
Elizabeth R-J

 

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