What do you wish you had have known earlier in your life?
This is a question that I recently asked as many of my female friends and acquaintances as I could. I was interested in their responses, for a number of reasons, but mainly because I feel like I have been learning the same lesson over and over again throughout my life (and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to wise up!). I’m also fascinated that no matter how vastly our paths in life differ, somehow, if we’re listening, we all seem to learn the same lessons.
Of course I got a flood of fabulous responses from these gorgeous women who’ve all glided (or stumbled, tripped, danced, hopped, crashed, as the case may be) down their own unique paths. However, the answer that stood out to me most, is the one that I wish I’d understood all along… ‘Love Yourself’. I can’t help but feel that if I… if we… understood that simple, gentle approach to ourselves earlier… things would have been different.
‘Love Yourself’ for your happily ever after…
It seems that loving oneself should be the most simple thing in the world and not the complex (otherwise impossible) challenge that many of us face in our quest for happiness.
The world I grew up in led me to believe that loving myself was vanity, and vanity was a bad thing. Back then the term had completely different connotations. We misused and misunderstood the concept of self love. What a shame that turned out to be (!!) as many of us tried pretty hard not to love ourselves. ‘She loves herself’ was a poison arrow shot by nasty school girls, that no one wanted to be on the receiving end of.
I personally, learned to not love myself. I devalued and denied myself persistently. I taunted and tormented, never understanding that ‘I’, above all, should have been nurturing and kind to ‘me’. Of course human flaw, along with my very own nature, played primitive roles in the evolution of my self loathe. Yet, had I understood the concept as it is understood now, some inscriptions may have appeared in reverse.
When you don’t love yourself you don’t respect yourself. You don’t stand up for yourself when people are treating you badly. You don’t have faith that you deserve or can do better. You put other people’s needs, values and opinions above your own. You get stuck in unhealthy circumstances and relationships. You love and respect other people more than you love and respect yourself. You give your power away. You neglect yourself physically, mentally, emotionally. You lose yourself. You don’t know how to make yourself happy. You use alcohol, drugs, sex, food and the wrong people, to fill the empty hole that a lack of self-love has torn wide open. And those things don’t fill the hole… they never will.
They exhaust and humiliate you when you use them in self abuse. They wear away at happiness, tear away pieces of your soul and make you ill.
Had I learned to love myself earlier in life I KNOW that I would have said and done so many things differently. I would have trusted my intuition, valued my own feelings and taken myself out of hurtful situations much sooner than I actually did.
We live and we learn and facing life’s challenges is part of the journey for all of us. The sadness and regret attached to the losses of our lives become bitter-sweet when we realise we have learned something of value. Something that will one day make us stronger and happier.
Despite past hurts and losses, I am certainly grateful to finally understand the true meaning of self-love and am happy to know that so may more are learning the same lesson. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
Treat yourself as you want others to treat you.