Unfortunately, things have to get so bad, so painful, or so out of control for most us before we realize how important it is to honor and value ourselves consistently in every moment, situation, and relationship.
For those of us who never learned to love ourselves and for those of us who often feel inadequate, insecure, underserving, or unworthy of love, we will constantly abandon and betray ourselves for the love of others to the point where we repeatedly find ourselves in situations and relationships where we feel used, unappreciated, valueless or worthless to those around us as well as to ourselves.
Underneath these painful situations and relationships, however, is the empowering and healing truth.
We are not actually victims in any way, because we’re the ones who have compromised ourselves for the conditional love, acceptance, approval, attention, and support of other people and thus can change this self-destructive pattern.
If we look at ourselves honestly, most of us will see that we often do not honor and value what we truly think, feel, want and need, because we’re afraid to, we don’t know how to or we don’t feel that we deserve to.
In other words, we all compromise ourselves to varying degrees on a daily basis just to “keep the peace” and to avoid confrontation.
Some of us compromise ourselves in every situation and relationship because we unconsciously believe that we must always please others or make others happy in order to be loved, accepted, approved of, attended to, or supported. Some of us don’t compromise ourselves nearly as much but still find it challenging at times to love, honor and value ourselves fully.
What most of us don’t realize until we’ve allowed our own sense of self-worth and self-respect to reach zero is that in every moment, situation, and relationship that we do not honor and value ourselves, we are compromising who we really are and thus abandoning, betraying, and ultimately hurting ourselves far more deeply than we know. This hurt that we all unconsciously inflict upon ourselves when we disregard our inner truths then creates deep anger, frustration, resentment, hatred, and dissatisfaction within us that we hold toward ourselves—and this self-destructive dynamic occurring within each of us is actually the root cause of all the anger and hatred that exists in our world.
Knowing this, in every moment of every day we are either loving, honoring, and valuing ourselves or, we are compromising, abandoning, and hurting ourselves. In each moment, situation, and relationship that we allow our fears of losing love, acceptance, approval, attention, security, or support to determine our choices and actions, we add to the buildup of pain, anger, misery, and inner dis-ease that we’ve already created for ourselves by compromising and betraying ourselves so much throughout our lives.
On the other hand, in each moment, situation, and relationship that we face our fears and thus choose to love, honor and value ourselves come what may, we heal our suffering in the present and we move forward into the psychological, emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual freedom that is our birthright.
Underneath all of the situations and relationships in which we currently compromise ourselves there is simply a very old and deep survival fear operating that has its roots in our early years as children. Growing up, most of us never felt safe enough to fully be ourselves or to express everything that we felt, thought, wanted, or needed. As a result, our instincts led all of us to compromise, abandon, fragment, and betray ourselves in exchange for the conditional love, approval, acceptance, attention, security, and support that we felt we needed from our parents, our teachers, our peers, and our caregivers just to survive. These old and deep fears that we all carry to some degree then lead each of us to compromise and betray ourselves throughout our adult lives.
Whether it’s with our parents, our children, other family members, our spouses, our partners, our friends, our colleagues, our employers, or our employees, most of us still abandon our inner truths in exchange for something.
This soul-destroying exchange might come in the form of love, acceptance, attention, approval, safety, security or some kind of support. It may also come in the form of money, fame, vanity, companionship, pleasure or sex.
Regardless of who or what we’ve compromised ourselves for over the years, the truth is that many of us have created a completely compromised life because we haven’t learned to break through our fears of losing love and security to always honor and value who we genuinely are.
Consequently, this unconscious fear for our survival, which most of us will recognize quite easily within ourselves, constantly sabotages our natural health, wealth and happiness until we’re able to consciously face it and choose to love ourselves unconditionally regardless of what it entails.
Both in myself and in my private practice I’ve seen one common reason why so many of us continue to compromise ourselves for the love, acceptance, approval, and support of other people: we do not feel that we are loveable or deserving of love just the way we are.
This particular dynamic drives many of us to stay in situations, relationships, and jobs that do not reflect our deepest inner truths, ultimately because we hold the destructive belief that no one else will stand by us, love us or employ us if we truly honor and value ourselves.
Way too many of us live believing that we lack something within ourselves, which renders us unlovable or undeserving of the love, happiness, respect, and fulfillment we all deserve. Even though this is completely untrue, we still end up hurting ourselves because we feel the only way to be loved, accepted, approved of, or supported by another person, by other people, or by a business is to please them and make them happy, even if it’s at the expense of our own integrity, health, happiness, or well-being.
This self-destructive pattern of relating to ourselves is created very early in our lives, and most of us just live out the majority of our days “prostituting” ourselves and disregarding both our own values and our own needs for this tainted love, acceptance, approval, and support from other people.
As a result, our lives become a constant struggle to please others while deep down we remain tense, unhappy, and unsatisfied. What we fail to realize is that simply by loving, honoring, and valuing ourselves in each moment, situation, and relationship, starting now, we can heal our inadequacies and insecurities and thereby discover that we’ve always been abundant and deserving in every way imaginable.
Learning to love and honor the very deepest parts of ourselves is often a painful stage in our awakening through which we finally claim the intrinsic value and worth of our lives in and of themselves.
Thus, regardless of how it appears from the outside, we all live with parts of ourselves that are like dark rooms in which fragments of our soul feel mistreated or abandoned and it seems as though no one is listening to our pain-filled cries. Ironically, it is we ourselves whom we’re calling out to, asking our higher selves to turn on the lights and flood these dark spaces within us with a deep self-love and respect.
When we’ve lived believing and feeling that we’re not loveable or deserving of love just as we are, we find that there exist a number of these “dark rooms” or “blind spots” within us that are devoid of self-value and self-worth. As we touched on before, it’s often not until we allow ourselves to be used or taken advantage of that we realize that we’re in fact the ones who have somehow betrayed ourselves.
When this is the case, as it is for the majority of us, we purposefully create situations and experiences where we invite people into our lives to exploit us and thus reveal the wounded parts of ourselves that are still hurting and waiting to be rescued with self-love.
Through our quest for peace, health, happiness, and fulfillment our soul is calling us home, asking us to turn on the lights in these parts of ourselves so we can assert from deep inside our being that we do not want to create any more suffering for ourselves.
Once we finally make this assertion, the courage arises within us to stand strong and flood these once darkened spaces with a knowing that we deserve genuine love, kindness, and respect in every aspect of our lives.
It’s helpful to know that these parts of ourselves that are temporarily devoid of light and love are the sole causes for the relationships and situations in our lives where we do not feel honored, valued, or respected by other people. With this in mind, once we commit to enlightening these painful, love-deprived spaces within us, we’re also called to stick up for our inherent value and worth in every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
This unavoidable process of recreating our inner relationship with ourselves is often one of the most difficult aspects of our ongoing healing and spiritual journey, because it requires us to value ourselves enough to either recreate or leave behind every situation that does not mirror back our newfound self-respect and self-worth.
As our love for ourselves grows, we’re repeatedly challenged to look at our personal and professional lives and to ask ourselves, “Where and with whom am I allowing myself to be mistreated, disrespected, or unappreciated? Where are these dark rooms in which my soul is crying out for my protection, strength, and love? When will I finally reach the point where l proclaim, ‘Enough misery, enough living a lie, and enough settling for less than I know I’m worthy, deserving, and capable of!’?”
As we mature spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically it’s also important to understand that when we compromise our inner truths for any reason, what we say and how we act do not represent what we truly believe, think, feel, want, or need. When we fail to honor and value ourselves in any scenario, our inner world becomes fragmented, confused and imbalanced, because we’ve created an inner battle between who we really are and our fear-based compromises.
In mastering an unconditional love for ourselves, however, our intention is to integrate and align our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, actions, and spoken words in every single moment, because this inner unity is what heals our pain and creates peace, health, joy, fulfillment, connection, ease, and love both within us and within our lives.
From a larger perspective, the more aligned we are internally, the more aligned we become externally with all of life, nature, and the entire universe. And when we live in such a state of internal alignment, the infinite universe is able to flow through us without getting stopped by the psychological, emotional, and physical blockages created when we abandon, betray, and hurt ourselves.
As we master honoring and valuing ourselves in every moment, situation, and relationship, therefore, we end up breaking through both the fear and the emotional pain that obstruct the natural force and flow of the universe, which is (1) always guiding us toward our destiny and full potential and (2) always providing us with the necessary strength and energy to consciously create what we want and need most in our lives.
On a practical level, honoring ourselves means saying no sometimes; it often means we hold strong, standing in our truth, and then face whatever reactions arise when we do not speak and act merely to please others or to make them happy. Sometimes valuing ourselves means that we need to leave a relationship, a job, or a certain place, knowing deep down that our daily health, happiness, and fulfillment are more important than the safety and security of cold, heartless, financial or material comfort.
Once we’ve suffered enough and are thus ready to honor and value ourselves without compromising our inner truths for anyone or anything, the universe will always step up to help us on our destined path.
We cannot know exactly how God will conspire to provide us with precisely what we need to move forward and to thrive, but we can always be certain that we’ll be supported in fulfilling our life’s purpose to bring the unconditional love that we are fully into this world.
Ultimately, each day our commitment to ourselves and our faith in life are tested merely to show us the fear that still remains alive within us so we can transform it, heal it, and come to love ourselves and our lives more deeply.
This process continually reveals the inner strength that we’re all born with to fearlessly love, honor and value ourselves in every moment, situation, and relationship, and in so doing create the liberated, joyful, and fulfilling life that we’re all destined to live.
Excerpt from You Were Not Born To Suffer by Blake D. Bauer
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
Assistant Editor: Leace Hughes/Ed: Bryonie Wise
hot on elephant
The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. My Marriage had to End—for my Life to Begin. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012.