How I Discovered Self-Love – The Key to Happiness
I haven’t discovered self-love up until very recently. It’s something that didn’t come naturally to me despite my rather passionate disposition. I didn’t realize how little I knew about self-appreciation until I looked it up, and found out that it had little to do with making love to ourselves – which considering my twisted mind would have been a sure bet.
regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
Well-being and happiness were long unknown vocabulary entries in my case. I came from a background where I learned very quickly where my place was. As a kid I was supposed to bring home straight A’s and pretty much assume the role of the perfect child: always smiling, always good, always staying out of trouble, never demanding or complaining of anything, never talking about feelings or heaven forbid questioning things. That was the deal, unless I wanted to get scolded and see the other (more scary) face of my displeased parents. Hence, my emotional well-being or personal happiness were never up for debate.
The problem with that kind of expectations being put on a young child’s shoulder is that it makes it disappear without anybody noticing. And by that I don’t mean disappear in a physical sense – it makes children go hiding inside and developing self-destructive behaviours when unable to cope with – for many years to come (I’m such a smarty pants now, but you should have seen me a few years ago – you’d be surprised how little I knew about that sort of stuff back then).
In my family any form of self-preoccupation was regarded as moral flaw, a kind of vanity that was surely not applauded and definitely got you noticed. Modesty, altruism and self-sacrifice was the only way of being accepted when it came to ethical values. You were supposed to become invisible, never to bother your parents and never being remarked as having done something improper. One way of making sure you disappeared from your parents’ view was virtually ceasing to exist in a strictly corporeal sense.
The truth is, I didn’t love myself (at least not in that kind of way, the other way I learned quite early on) until in my late twenties, when I met my husband and he taught me what love was. It remains without question that he loved me before I ever dreamed of appreciating myself. He saw the good, the beautiful and the true in me – it took me years of self-discovery to be able to see what he noticed instantly.
I realized only a short while ago that the way I treated myself stemmed from a deep anchored feeling that I’m not worthy of love. That I’m at my best if I mistreat myself, kick myself around or dissolve in air like carbon dioxide in water (hear that popping sound?). That only giving myself up to serve others will make me a worthy-of-affection person (of course under the condition that I survive in the process).
When I hit the ground almost a year ago, I asked myself one serious question : What is it that’s trying to kill me? And to my own revelation, the answer was : Lack of self-love!
I will never forget the look my acupuncture doctor gave me (yep, I even tried acupuncture to bring my health back, and nope, it didn’t work), when I told her I was having issues with body image and literally starved my ovaries in the process. She explained that
any condition revolving around nutrition has its roots NOT in food but in emotions (or the lack of thereof).
She made clear to me how the absence of unconditional, genuine, non-toxic love would have an enormous impact on our emotional health and would result in low self-regard or harmful demeanour. She pointed out that any destructive or addictive behaviour derives from issues which have little to do with shopping, shoes-dependency or booze over-indulgence per se. But rather, that the uncomfortable feelings we’re trying so hard to numb are thus attempting to find a way out (that would certainly explain my Champagne and Louboutins addiction, wouldn’t it?).
I think it’s in that moment that it downed on me: All my life I was trying to slowly kill myself because the very person who’s love I so desperately sought didn’t care about me!
(As though, if I killed myself, they would finally start loving me, right? – I guess when you’re hurt, there is a certain logic in there).
And it’s in that moment that the little girl inside of me woke up and decided to fight for herself. It’s in that very moment that I realized how precious life is and that I AM worthy of love no matter what. That you cannot (and should not) please everybody around. That what counts is YOU, your well-being, happiness and not some other people who don’t give a sh*t about you anyways.
Screw them! – I thought to myself and started to take care of myself like never before. I started to eat better, to take time for myself, pamper myself and for the first time in my life putting my needs first (and let me tell you, to my own astonishment, the world didn’t turn upside down as I did that!). It’s something that I’m only slowly getting accustomed to, envisioning a long process of self-discovery and re-conditioning.
As it turns out, I’m a slow learner (and I was convinced I’m a supersonic genius, damn it!). It took me a whole 40 years to uncover what happiness it all about:
That it’s about self-respect, self-love and being good to yourself!
Better late than never, as they say:)
Have a look at related presentation I did about How to love yourself?