TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOVING YOURSELF, IF YOU DON’T, WHO WILL?
It’s reasonable to ask that the people in your life accept you and treat you with love, respect and consideration. In fact, that’s how you would define a relationship – by the willingness of another person to relate to you – to love you. But the bottom line is that it really isn’t their job to love you. Neither is it their responsibility and it’s certainly not their sole purpose for living. It is your, and only your responsibility to love yourself.
It isn’t even your parents’ job. I see plenty of clients who have become locked into years of pain and suffering based on the premise that their parents did not love and accept them as they would have liked. They feel resentment, bitterness and even hatred for how their parents ‘failed’ at loving and nurturing them. This may be true, perhaps your parents failed miserably at loving and accepting you unconditionally and were just plain duds in terms of supporting you and demonstrating love. The question is: what are you going to do now?
You can dwell on how others have ‘failed’ at their job of loving you and proceed with endless therapy sessions, self-help reading and courses, addictions, unhealthy habits and self-sabotaging behaviours all the while indulging the search for the ‘peace’ and ‘happiness’ that others have deprived you of. Or you could give yourself the very things you feel deprived of and GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE. I love to explain this concept by using a catchy book title such as: “So…Your Parents Screwed You Up, Now What?” or “So…You Married an Asshole, Now What?”
Here’s a novel solution. What about, you stop asking for others to give you unconditional love and you just give it to yourself? What? That sounds cur-ray-zee! I even said this to my husband once – “you know that it’s not up to me whether you feel loved or not, feeling loved depends on your feelings and I am not in charge of them,” he just paused for a moment before saying disbelievingly “that can’t be right.” Yep, this is how foreign the concept of self-responsibility for love is.
But let’s just get real about what is really going on when you ‘outsource’ responsibility for love. In couples counselling I often ask couples to imagine what they are asking of their partner when they fail to take responsibility for feeling loved. If it was written as an advertisement to the Universe, this is how it would look:
Who in their right mind would want to sign up for this? The amazing thing is, you do get an applicant! Stop for a moment and appreciate that there are people in your life who have answered this call and have decided to step up to the plate and give it a crack! Bless them! But what are you doing? Are you appreciating their efforts or are you judging them for failing to meet the job criteria?
I have plenty of clients who complain to me (always with an air of exasperation) that the solution to all of their problems seems to boil down to the same thing – self-love. And I often comment that I have come to accept that my job in ‘therapy’ is simply to drag people kicking and screaming to self-love. However, it becomes plainly obvious (and rather ironic) that while we are so fiercely reluctant to love ourselves, we’re happy to criticise and condemn others who won’t or don’t love us! Blimey – if we find it so bloody hard, we should give them a break!
So why is it challenging to take responsibility for loving yourself? You’re simply not taught to, instead you are taught that love is something that is provided by others. Even in religious traditions you can be taught that love originates from a ‘source’ outside of you. You grow up believing love is given, bestowed upon you and in many cases, earned based on conditions. So, you have never really taken responsibility for loving yourself because you simply don’t know how.
1) Rejoice that self-love is actually the solution to all of your problems. The healing of your pain, hurt, symptoms and diseases are actually within your control and they are entirely dependent on the extent to which you are willing to love yourself.
2) Sack other people from their job of loving you. Relieve them of this unfair responsibility. Give them a break. Let go of the need for them to love you and show it in particular ways. When you do this you might fear that they’ll leave you up 'no-love creek without a paddle'. The truth is – they don’t want to leave, they signed up for the shitty job, to take responsibility for loving you. They WANT to love you. Perhaps it’s getting past this – can you let go of NEEDING people to love you and accept that people WANT to love you?
3) Love yourself. If your parents showed you unconditional love in countless ways then you have good role models for how to do this. You know what to do. If they weren’t particularly good role models then your job is harder. But you might have your own children and as a parent, you can always find a way of showing unconditional love to them, so you just need to apply it to yourself. Failing that you have your own imagination and a connection to your inner child, who can tell you directly (via your emotions) what would make you feel loved. We all have it in us – the ability to love. It’s a matter of whether you are going to allow it or not. Of whether you are going to take responsibility for it or not. Why don’t you just start loving yourself and see what happens? Set an example for how you want to be loved and invite (no strings attached!) others to join you…you’d be surprised how many followers you get.