I think it’s probably easier to identify what an improper love relationship is than to identify what a “proper” love relationship is. Physically, mentally or emotionally abusive relationships are improper love relationships. Incestuous relationships are improper love relationships. Love relationships that require one person to give all the time, while the other person receives all the time is an improper love relationship.
How to Love Yourself Properly
So what’s the definition of a “proper” love relationship and how do you love yourself “properly”? You love yourself properly when you love, honor, nurture and show up for yourself, no matter what, in spite of the significant forces or others in your life who do not love, support, or treat you the way that they should, or the way you want or need them to.
Showing up for yourself, no matter what, builds your self-confidence and self-esteem and when your self-confidence and self-esteem are high, you “feel successful” and capable of accomplishing anything. When you exude that type of positive energy and self-confidence, you attract the people and things into your life that you want and need. It all starts with how you feel about yourself, and how you communicate that to the world. That’s how you make your dreams a reality, from the inside out.
How do you Love “Others” Properly?
You love others, properly, when you give them your time, attention and consideration, without causing yourself undue harm, inconvenience or sacrifice. Sounds simple and elementary, right? Then why is it so hard to do?
Why it’s Hard to Love Properly
There are many personal and societal reasons why it’s hard for many people, especially women, to love properly. I think the number one reason why it’s hard for many of us to love properly is because, at some point in our lives, in response to the negative and non-supportive experiences we’ve had, we forgot how completely “Divine”, awesome and worthy we truly are. At some point, we started believing the negative things that people said about us. Or we spent so much time trying to prove our goodness and worthiness to others, that we forgot how to think for ourselves, set our own goals and reward ourselves for our progress, instead of basing our self-worth and self-esteem on the opinion or attention of others.
We’re All Special and Worthy of the Best
Man didn’t create the oceans, mountains, earth or any of the millions of unique and miraculous living creatures and things on earth, including us. An awesome, miraculous, invisible, “Positive Spiritual Force” (PSF) created everything, including us, and each one of us is as great, miraculous, Divine and as awesome, as the Positive Spiritual Force that created us. We’re born awesome, miraculous and worthy of the best that life has to offer and as we grow and age, that fact doesn’t change. What may change, due to the negative circumstances in our lives, is our faith and belief in us and our worthiness to be and have the best.
When you give up on yourself it means you’ve forgotten how truly awesome you are. But guess what, the good news is, as soon as you recognize this and start acting accordingly, everything else in your environment will respond accordingly! When you know and believe this, you love yourself properly and you put yourself in a position to win and overcome all of your obstacles and challenges.
Successful people believe in themselves first, and then they enlist the resources and support they need to make their dreams a reality. Unsuccessful people don’t believe in themselves or their ability to create what they want, so they wait for others to give them what they need or want, or blame and resent others for not giving them what they need or want.
The choice is yours, you can put yourself in a position to be successful and win, or you can put yourself in a position to fail depending on “how you see yourself”. So commit to seeing yourself as the best thing since the microwave, computer, fax machine or whatever invention you think is really awesome and miraculous and you’ll be putting yourself in the right position to succeed.
Another reason why it’s hard to love properly is because we’re not born with that ability. The ability to love others and ourselves, properly, is an art that’s learned, it’s not something that just comes naturally. Most parents “naturally” love their children but don’t necessarily know how to love themselves or their children properly.
Parents are flawed human beings (just like everyone else) who have reproduced another human being. And human beings who reproduce other human beings don’t automatically and mysteriously lose their faults and flaws and become terrific, mature, responsible parents, who now know how to love themselves and others properly. Instead, what usually happens is, parents parent the way they were parented, whether they had good role models or not. Therefore, faulty ideas and behaviors get passed on from one generation to another and children internalize bad, unloving stuff “as normal”, or as what is to be expected or, worse yet, as what they deserve. Then when these children become parents, unless they’re “enlightened,” they repeat and pass on the same faulty thoughts and behaviors to their children, and the cycle grinds on. That’s how we let the negative experiences we’ve had in our lives influence our ability to feel good about ourselves and others and inhibit our ability to make smart, self-affirming choices that result in successful, fulfilling lives.
Negative parental role models and patterns are hard to overcome because it’s difficult to admit negative things about your parents, and it’s even more difficult to change negative patterns – but it can be done. First, you have to recognize the negative model or pattern, then you have to consciously work on replacing the negative model or pattern with a positive model or pattern.
Abandonment and emotional abuse is so damaging and hard to overcome because the message you get is “you’re not good enough to be loved or valued properly”. And accepting the “I’m not good enough” message produces low self-esteem, people-pleasing tendencies and “love addiction”. Simply put, love addiction is when you have an insatiable need to prove your worthiness by getting and keeping love, by any means necessary. Been there, done that and lived to write a book about it.
I’ve been married and divorced three times because, until I recognized the pattern and shifted my point of view, I kept picking men, like my father and step-father, who weren’t capable of loving me properly, either. Finally, after years of soul-searching, self-help books and therapy, I made the transition into “love addiction recovery” when I shifted my point of view from, “I’m not good enough”, to “I’ve always been good enough, they’re just not capable of loving me properly”. When I made that mental shift I showed up for myself and gave myself the love and support I needed, when I needed it. It is amazing how much this shift in perception changes your entire outlook on life.
The take away here is: identify the negative role models and patterns at work in your life and “consciously” show up for yourself by replacing the negative patterns in your life with positive ones.
So there you have it, a synopsis of my first Success Principle, “How to Love Yourself and Others Properly”.