“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” ~ Sharon Salzberg
We can go round and round with love in a never-ending dance of questions.
I think that for the most part, we are not yet jaded on love—although some of us are, and many of us seek to understand the mystery of it all.
We shouldn’t suffer in love, although that’s a “romantic” notion that’s been propagated since time immemorial.
When love is new, we may forget to eat and sleep, living on the fumes of every moment our new lover affords us, but that is where the suffering should stop.
In fact, it can be quite pleasant to be lost to love in this way—when emotions are heightened, and we are truly alive with passion. I’m all for that heady kind of business. In fact, we need more of it in the later stages of love, don’t we?
We need to be truly alive more of the time…love is wonderful kindling for a life of fire.
A new love helps us to remember how we look to someone who values us, because we see our reflection in their eyes. We feel appreciated. We feel empowered. We are lifted up, and that can be addictive.
And so begins the longing for that sacred reminder of our worth.
Validation through love is a gift—but an even greater gift we can give ourselves is to value ourselves before love, during love and post love.
Self-worth and self-love can solve nearly every romantic woe there is. We are not taught about this enough. We are taught too often to wait for that person who will “complete us,” and who will make us feel that we are vitally important in this world.
Self-worth (or more accurately, lack of it) is where love breaks down.
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” ~ Michel de Montaigne
Waiting for that mirror of self-worth are the fairy-tales we’re raised on. The savior, the prince and the rescuer are the archetypes of love based on dismal footing.
Let’s go back a step. Although we know intellectually that self-worth is vital in love, we are all struggling, to one degree or another, to value ourselves enough to accept nothing less than what we deserve.
Ah, but that may be the rub. We may not believe that we deserve it. We may also think that not everyone can have that kind of empowering love. But why not? We can, if we ask for it and wait.
Wait? What do you mean wait? Who has time to wait…clocks are ticking, and we crave a partner to share our life with.
There’s nothing wrong with that. And learning how to value ourselves is a life-long journey. We grow as we experience, and hopefully choose a better love the next time.
The little girl who is broken inside of us, the teenager who has been abused, the young mother who has been left to manage things on her own—any one of us—has to summon the courage to say no to a relationship that is not truly love, but rather a dependence on external validation.
Of course it is lovely to be validated by others, especially someone we adore, but all that must be the icing on the cake, never the main thing.
It sounds simple, and yet it’s not, because if we valued ourselves, we would walk away from love that is clearly not good for us—and we would have, more importantly, chosen better partners in the first place.
When we’re not sure about who we are, we tend to cycle with those lovers who consistently treat us like crap. We allow their insecurities to degrade us.
These lovers find us because we attract them like magnets. We’re not to blame for their behavior, that’s their sh*t—but we do have to take a closer look at what we allow.
When we know we deserve better—and I mean know it in our bellies and believe it, so it’s not just something we repeat on auto-pilot—we won’t be attracted to that kind of love. We won’t even visit that stratosphere. We’d become blind to those kinds of lovers, and they would be blind to us.
The truth is that relationships develop, partners grow, and we all become better at love as we come to know ourselves more deeply and honestly, and that is the bottom line of all things love—knowing our own worth helps avoid many difficulties.
We learn as we live, and we grow in self-worth, as we continue to have honest discussions with ourselves about who we are, our scars, our fears and habits.
It takes great vulnerability to admit and understand why we attract bad love or continue to allow it. That vulnerability is essential in self-discovery. Facing the painful realizations of life-long patterns is hard work and takes courage.
Even just admitting that we’ve allowed “bad love” in our lives is humbling. But we must take one step at a time, taking care to be present when we find ourselves making excuses for our choices; these patterns can be dissolved. Being vulnerable unto ourselves is important work.
“Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it.” ~ Pema Chodron
Some ways to create change:
Surround yourself with people who either already know how to empower themselves, or people who are on that path. Your conversations will revolve around this growth instead of the loop of stories about bad love. Uplifting conversations have a way of increasing self-worth. Become part of mindful discussions.
Read what you can about being mindful of our emotional condition. Two of my favorites are The Pocket Pema Chodron, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, because they offer a framework for adjusting our thought patterns. While not directly about self-worth, they do teach self-awareness. It is through self-awareness that we can find solace from the monkey-mind and harmful patterns.
Begin a meditation practice. It doesn’t have to be a complicated, scary thing, just a few moments of quiet. Silence is where we meet ourselves most honestly. Who we are, truly, is found in blissful non-thought. There we can be without expectations. We can accept ourselves as we are. No judgement. Just breathe. Find that space where you are an infinite being of vast proportions worthy of exceptional partnerships.
The next time you wonder about your current love situation or are about to embark on a new one, ask yourself this question: Does this love reflect my true self-worth?
Your true self-worth is based on your infinite being-ness. It is not based on how you were treated as a child, or as an adult in a bad relationship, or even how you treat yourself. Your true self-worth is a matter of the inherent light in your soul. It’s about your vastness and the shine of your soul. It is not attached to any occurrences or thought patterns.
Your self-worth is a matter of indisputable meaning.
Remember this—love relationships are a direct reflection of what we accept as permissible treatment of our divine incarnation. Once we see that clearly, we can set about creating what we need and desire.
Love is really about awareness and being present with ourselves and the person we love. No blame, no judgement—simply, awareness.
Author: Monika Carless
Images: Flickr/Per Gosche
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina