Learning To Love Yourself Part III

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By Ariel Minter

I have this friend, Mike, who is extremely insightful. My friend teaches a class on most Saturdays and he takes normal ideas and concepts and suggests many other perspectives on whatever the topic may be. 

A few weeks ago, the topic was loving each other as imperfect beings. His perspective was that there is no human love that comes from selflessness, rather, all human love is based in selfish motives

After he said this his wife (who was also attending the class) commented on how dark that perspective was, and how could that be? Since there are perfect babies being born and mothers and fathers witnessing this perfect creation, or when you decide to marry someone and how that has to be as close to selfless love as humanly possible. 

The discussion continued in the direction of debate, and I was honored to participate in the conversation because these are hard ideas and concepts to talk about, and really there is no right position on the topic. 

I tend to agree with my friend Mike. I believe that we are all very broken people. And so I think that we innately act from selfishness (is that not survival?). Please read these words carefully, because yes that does sound awful, and makes love feel like Santa Claus made up for children. 

We choose love in many situations. However, love has been taught to us based on whatever ideology we were born in to. There are some of us who understand love much better than others (and I certainly cannot claim to be one of them).

Sometimes love just happens. And it feels like you cannot stop even if you wanted to. And that is why romance novels are so successful, and Nicholas Sparks now has his books turned into movies on a regular basis. Because we all can relate to the heartache and that loss and then, oh, that hope! The hope that this love is authentic enough to MEAN something. To PROVE something. In sickness and in health…

I agree that love just happens. But I think, more often that not, love is a choice. Loving yourself is the toughest because it is a choice more often than not. 

There are difficult circumstances where you must choose love when people are in “unlovable” situations. It’s hard to love a screaming child, to love your partner after hurtful things have been said, to love a friend when they disrespect you, etc. But loving yourself in those hard situations? 

Perhaps you lied about something, slept with someone, drunk texted your truth to someone who has no intention of caring, lost your dog, lost something that wasn’t yours when you were in charge of protecting said thing…..any situation where you walk away feeling like a failure. Feeling shameful. Feeling unforgivable. Feeling unworthy and disgusted with yourself.

How can we, as broken humans, get to a point where we can sift through our ugliness, and love ourselves? This is not an easy question. And there is no “one size fits all” answer to it, either. 

But here is what I have come up with. Or at least I think this is a starting point….

In order to begin loving yourself, you must actively listen to that voice in your head that immediately criticizes you. And when you are condemning yourself with self judgment you must stop. The more aware you can be of how hateful your thoughts can be about yourself, the more you can see how little you value yourself. 

I have realized that I am mean to myself. I am awful to myself. But these past few weeks I have been (trying!) to stop myself. And in that same process I think of what I am grateful for in my life. Then, when I come across other broken humans I ACTIVELY think of a compliment for them. This is not easy because my first instinct is to compare myself and judge them.

We must love each other to love ourselves.