Thursday, September 29, 2016

What About Me? Self-Love: Be Real, Be Who You Want to Meet

When I first heard be who you want to meet I thought it meant that you should treat other people with love and respect if you want them to do the same for you. The problem with that perspective is that it’s making them the focus instead of me. Does it matter? Actually yes. So now I look at it differently; I think it means be as good to myself in every way as I want others to be to me. Charity begins at home.

If I don’t want people to dismiss me, then I need to stop dismissing myself. If I want people to listen to me without judgement, I must stop judging myself. If I don’t give myself unconditional love and make myself more important than anything else or anybody else, then other people don’t, either. 

People who have low self esteem and entitlement are usually super-nice to everybody else, and they long desperately for somebody to be nice to them, to treat them with love and respect. But people walk all over them. It can be hard to understand. Surely if I give you everything I have you’ll love me back. The more they get dismissed, the harder they work to be loving and understanding. 

The problem is that in a relationship like this you give a lot of empathy; you always listen and make your partner or friend feel good about themselves, so they come back for more. It’s easy to interpret that as they love me.

But they don’t really. Love isn’t one way. If they really love you they’ll give back to you. What actually happens is that as soon as you need something, even if it’s just to talk about yourself, they lose interest, or they say something like “oh everybody feels like that” which makes you feel stupid for even speaking up.

It leaves you feeling small and worthless. And very, very lonely. Probably also angry. You say hey, what about me? but you don’t say it to them. The thing is, when you don’t have any real self love and you’ve got low entitlement and self esteem, which you do if you’re in a relationship like that, people who need to be in control will be drawn to you. The scary thing is realizing that you are drawn to them. It's not a conscious choice but it's a real one and one that leaves you devastated. They’re usually satisfied in the relationship, because they get all the attention. And you keep giving them the message that it's okay to dismiss you and your needs. That's why they carry on doing it. 

They won’t change, why should they? They're getting their needs met.  You’re the one who has to learn to stand up for yourself. You have to acknowledge that your entitlement and self esteem are lousy and you don’t really love and respect yourself. Some people get help from books, others find a therapist or a mentor who will give them unconditional love and teach them that they have immense value, as much value as anybody else in the world. 
 
When that happens you begin to love and even to like yourself, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s like a miracle. You start taking your emotions and feelings seriously. You pay attention to what you need instead of always thinking about the other person. Gradually you start claiming attention. You give yourself permission to be real in relationships. The people who only liked you because you gave them so much without needing them to give anything back, lose interest in you real fast. It may hurt at first, but if you’re truthful with yourself you realize you don’t want them in your life anyway.

Learning to love yourself and appreciate how brilliant you are changes your life. I know how hard it is when you’re being dismissed in a relationship and you’re doing your best. It’s really difficult to love or respect yourself. Your life feels out of control and it’s easy to blame them.  

But I also know how rewarding it is when decide you’ve had enough and you work on learning how to give yourself love and respect. You discover that you can control who you give your love and respect to. You recognize people who respect themselves enough to be able to respect you and you learn how to take the risk of choosing them. You’re not drawn to the same people anymore and if you find them in your world you don't give them the attention they crave. You discover you have the power to not let anybody treat you badly.

Be who you want to meet. It’s very powerful. It means loving, respecting and protecting ourselves in the same way that we'd love a vulnerable child, with the same attention, protection and care.