Yesterday I had the privilege of appearing as an expert on The Quiet Storm on WBLS-FM NY for the second time. It was during a segment called “Confessions of Love.” I was asked whether love is earned or deserved. Without question, love is our birthright – it is the purest and most beneficial of emotions. As we begin Pride month, love is a particularly fitting topic for discussion. Many in the LGBTQ community have been oppressed, censured and even brutalized for their expression of love for others and even themselves.
Our early experiences with love, what I like to call our Love MOB, establish the foundation for self-love. The MOB consists of Mothers, Others and Brothers. Our natural mothers and other mother figures offer our initiation into the nurturing sweetness of love. Others refer to our other-worldly experiences of a loving God or organized Universe that offers a sense of structural safety in the world. Brothers are our extended family and community that expands our network of love and support far and wide. This powerful foundation helps us develop the pillars of self-love:
- Healthy boundaries
Self-awareness arises when we are encouraged to be reflective. How do you feel? What do you think about that? For many of us who grew up in the generation where children were “seen and not heard,” being self-aware takes some practice. Authenticity stems from both self-knowledge and acceptance. Authentic confidence builds upon that, enabling you to speak your mind knowing you are capable of learning anything that becomes necessary. With these structures in place, healthy boundaries become natural, allowing you to protect your mind, body and spirit from those who might do you harm.
Many of us enter into romantic relationships without a healthy sense of awareness about and love for ourselves. We may find ourselves losing track of our own needs, desires, likes and dislikes in our attempt to please our partner. The wrong type of partner will use our fledgling self-love against us, trampling over our gentle boundaries and delicate self-esteem. They may even attack our self-awareness with gaslighting and demand our silence when we attempt to reach out to our support network for guidance. We may even have been conditioned in our own families not to put our business “in the streets.”
So how do you find the right partner? What are the signs? Pay attention to the 3 A’s:
Romantic relationships typically start with admiration. Whether it’s the personality, sense of humor, intelligence or swag. Someone piques our interest, and we like what we see. In healthy relationships, this expands from initial interest to respect, compassion and adoration. As we get closer, we reveal more of ourselves and become more authentic and establish intimacy. If our “representative” had been going out on dates, we now invite our whole selves. Finally, we make ourselves available emotionally and physically. We spend time together. We express our affection. We are one team. Ride or die.
This is the ideal.
Now, is it possible to spend 20, 30, 40, 50 years or a lifetime in a terrible relationship?
The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself, whether you find an ideal life partner or not.
Treat yourself the way you want your lover to treat you. Admire yourself. Respect yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. Adore yourself. Move through the world with authenticity. Make time for your emotional and physical self. Practice self-care. Exercise. Honor your emotions. Take yourself on dates to the spa, the movies, the park or out to dinner. Buy yourself flowers.
Yes, it’s possible to spend many years in a terrible relationship with a partner. It’s also easy to foster a terrible relationship with yourself. I wish you LOVE, but first, I wish you deep abiding self-love.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is a quote from world-renowned transformational teacher, Marci Shimoff. Marci is the Co-Author of the Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul books as well as a featured teacher in the 2006 film, The Secret. She has graciously offered to write the foreword for 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness. I couldn’t be more excited!!! What a wonderful lesson her quote teaches us about self-love.