Do You Really Need to Love Yourself First?

That’s the burning question many people had from my last article for the Huffington Post on self-esteem. Thanks to all who shared their stories, feedback, comments and insights. It inspired me to write this article. I know you’ve been told you need to love yourself first before you can love someone else. I disagree. Can love exist without self-love? Yes. Let me explain by asking you to ask yourself the following things:  
  1. Do you prioritize others over yourself?
  2. Do you tell yourself the truth?
  3. Do you accept the past or do you ruminate about it?
  4. Do you blame others (parents, ex-partner/spouse) for your past failures?
  5. Do you follow your gut the majority of the time?
  6. Do you carve out “me” time consistently?

Do you do any of these things and still want and find love? Of course you do. We all do. Does it stop us from loving others?

Still think you need to love yourself first? Ok, let’s look at the latest dating trend Benching. In this article, Jason Chen is writing about his experience with rejection and how common it is for people to start dating then blow them off and re-surface months later and resume dating again. So, he became a bench-warmer waiting to get picked; while the other person is dating other people. He’s wondering why he got blown off, but the person comes back and you give them a chance, right? What does this say about what people feel about themselves? Why do they allow it? Should you give people the benefit of the doubt? Sure. But, what’s the cut off? Should your ego, sense of self, or self-respect take a hit? And even when it does take a hit, don’t we still seek love? Isn’t that the opposite of loving yourself first?

What does it say about self-love? If you ask people do you love yourself, they’ll likely tell you yes.

Here’s my burning question: If you love yourself first, then what explains the faulty decision-making in relationships?

It’s not about self-love, it’s about self-awareness. I think that self-awareness PKNFYSTO4Eis one of the keys to our relationship decision-making process. When you’re self-aware and ask yourself the same above questions, you’ll find what you accept for yourself and what helps you decide on who, when, and how to love. The interesting part of self-awareness is that it becomes most challenged while you are in a relationship. 🙂 Have you ever realized that thing that s/he did that annoyed you triggered another aspect of you?

The heated you: It’s not about the toilet seat! It’s about you having no consideration for me whatsoever! 

Your inner voice: OMG! Who can’t put down a damn toilet seat?! I’m gonna be miserable the rest of my life putting up with this shit!

The over-reaction to a small thing triggered larger issues: lack of consideration and poor communication. The irony is that people become aware of the lack of self-love in relationship to others. 🙂 Self-love is cultivated over time. With each relationship we hope to get a better understanding of our needs and what we will seek out in the future. Our sense of self is challenged in each break-up because we’re trying to understand why it happened, why we allowed it to happen, or what was wrong with that person that they didn’t see the greatness in us. 🙂 Either way, we walk away wondering is this person kidding me with their bullshit behavior or was I kidding myself?

 

Start off your New Year with a bang!

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As I reflect on the year, I realize more and more that life isn’t always about getting what you deserve. It’s about us all being on different trajectories. The reality is that everyone has the same opportunities at being happy. It’s about the choices we make and understanding how it shaped our experiences. The better we are at understanding why we chose what we did, the closer we get to actualizing our goals.

The things that we experience are temporary. It changes as our perception of the experience changes. Everything has its own unique trajectory. Imagine a ball in flight. The speed and direction in which it travels is dependent on the amount of force exerted onto the ball, the angle of your wrist, your strength for it to travel. The same principle can be applied to our everyday lives. Each person’s trajectory possesses its own unique set of qualities that is directed by each decision we make. What it yields is dependent on the decisions we make around the goal we want to achieve. The better we understand our experiences, we get a better sense of what we need and then we are better aligned to encounter the right set of circumstances and people.

This year, in addition to your New Year’s resolution, write a letter to your 2012 self itemizing the things that you gained, how you grew, and what you’re appreciative of. Whether you: grew from the ordeal of a break-up, divorce, found the love of your life, found a job, got laid-off, gained more customers or started your own business. Think about each thing that you would like to continue and things that you would like to grow from. Everything we go through brings us closer to what we need to actualize our dreams or brings about our happiness. If your goal is to be a better partner in your relationship (your trajectory), think about how your communication style may have improved in the last year or conversely how it can be improved in the coming year (your decision making process). Whatever the situation is, think about what led you to that moment and what you intended on happening. If it is what you intended, apply that formula to other situations. If it wasn’t, revise the process by being more congruent with what you want to achieve. Sometimes when we see it written, we are better able to see some of the incongruence very clearly. When I have reflected on my past experiences, I realized that the qualities and circumstances that I was seeking was the opposite of what I was experiencing. Hope this helps you have the best year yet!

Have a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year!

If someone told you relationships are easy, they lied!

Relationships are not easy. They become less difficult over time. Everyone deals with their past differently: some deny it, repress it, aggress it or accept it as part of life’s cycle. The reality is that when you’re in a relationship you are dealing with another person’s experience and issues and your own. Together you are creating a shared experience while learning one another. Relationships are the place that you challenge your own experiences and your perception of how life ought to be. Eliciting emotions out of you while trying to create a healthy relationship is where some difficulties arise because we resort to the mechanisms that were most useful to us prior to the relationship.gnc-edited

Here are some questions to determine the health of your relationship and what mechanism you are using to cope with them when you are experiencing difficulties. Keep in mind that sometimes we are using all of them.

Key #1: Honesty

Question about the relationship: Is the person deceptive to you?

Question for you: Why do you want to live in deception?

Maybe you don’t want to deal with a painful past event/memory and the person’s truth is a painful reminder of it. Sometimes we don’t want hear the truth, so that we can act like it doesn’t exist and for it not to be real. It’s harder to hear things that would help move from a negative state of perception to a positive one, so people that love you want to protect you from what can be hurtful. However, deception creates mistrust and feelings of betrayal, which are harder to build on.

Key #2: Conflict Resolution

Question about the relationship: Does the person blame you or others for their life’s setbacks?

Question for you: Do you make them aware of taking responsibility for their decisions that led to their actions?

Taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a personal thing not a couple thing. It’s based on the individual’s personal decisions and choices. I don’t believe in you get what you deserve. You get what you chose. If the person isn’t learning you and vice versa, you are in a relationship with yourself. You’re treating yourself the way you want to be treated and hoping that the other person will in turn do the same for you (on the same/ any level). Not taking responsibility for one’s actions can lead to devaluing the other person. The person isn’t valuing what you do for them because they have relied on others to assist them. While assistance from others is what all of us need from time to time, when that assistance turns into a negative outcome like a life setback, it can be easy to turn that blame on the person who provided the assistance.

Key #3: Equity in the relationship

Question about the relationship: Do you feel like you give more than you receive?

Question for you:  Why do you feel you have to do things?

Often times people don’t fully appreciate the effort, time and planning related to the things that their partner does. I’m not talking about cultivating romance. I’m talking about daily living and functioning. E.g., If you’re preparing dinner for your partner and prior to you they were used to ordering out or restaurants, they became accustomed to someone else preparing their food. Their needs are being met. The time, effort, and planning isn’t part of their equation so it isn’t reciprocated. That differential is what can cause resentment.

When you look back at anything you got that you really wanted, you’ll see that it took significant sacrifice, time, and effort. That’s what made it even more worthwhile. Didn’t you appreciate it? Didn’t you celebrate it? The same rule that applies to things apply to people.