Discover the Power of Self-love
Is it important that you love yourself? How do you know if you don’t? And how can you love yourself as you ought to? I will answer these three questions for you right now!
Healthy relationships grow out of two people who have a healthy level and expression of self-love. Although that is clearly not the only ingredient needed for a good relationship, self-love is nevertheless essential.
Since life is made up of relationships, loving yourself becomes essential. Think of all the relationships you have: marriage, family, work, church, school, neighbors, friends and incidental (store, bank, service providers, and so on). Your inability to love yourself will mar all these relationships.
Symptoms related to poor self-love
These are things I see all the time. As I observe people’s relationships, as I pray for people and counsel them, several things continually get in the way in their lives. So here are some symptoms of poor self-love.
Low self-esteem. When you feel that you aren’t really worth much, it’s hard to love yourself. These feelings may have come from childhood abuse – either physical or, far more frequently, emotional. Emotional damage happens when you are repeatedly told you won’t amount to anything or that your stupid; when you are overlooked and not appreciated; when you are ignored and pushed aside.
Dissatisfaction with your life. I know that sometimes we go through very difficult seasons that promote a profound dissatisfaction with our life at the moment. But, I am talking about a feeling that your whole life has not been happy or worthwhile. Jesus promised us abundant life. If that is not your experience, something is wrong. When you are unhappy with your life, it is a very personal evaluation of who you are, the choices you have made and what has happened as a result of those choices. Often your dissatisfaction can be traced back to low self-esteem or one of the other symptoms listed here.
Bitterness. This most often happens when we have been continually wronged and offended. There are cruel people in the world. There are people who are calloused and unfeeling. When we rub up against them we are likely to be hurt. Bitterness happens when we fail to forgive; when we believe there is no one we can trust; when we are continually disappointed.
Anger. Beyond bitterness lies anger. When our response to every disappointment and every offense is to become angry, something is wrong. Anger is a dangerous emotion that leaves wounds and scars across generations. When we are angry much of the time, we are emotionally unhealthy and unable to cope with life.
Negative outlook. If everything looks like it will fall apart, something is wrong. When every conversation sounds negative and every inference sounds like criticism, then it might be because of our outlook. This is another symptom of a low level of self-love.
Guilt. Do you feel guilty for past failures and mistakes? If you think about all the things you have done wrong on a daily basis, this is unhealthy. Excessive feelings of guilt will keep you from moving forward. They also make it impossible to love yourself.
Feeling abandoned. This frequently happens when children grow up in broken homes. If a parent has left, often the child feels partially to blame. As we grow into adulthood, every failed relationship can leave us with feelings of abandonment. Taken to an extreme this can lead us to the conclusion that we are unworthy of love and therefore we do not even love ourselves.
These symptoms, if left untreated, will seriously hurt or completely destroy your ability to love yourself. But, you can love yourself in a healthy way, even if these things describe your life today.
How can you love yourself?
Start with taking a long and honest look at your life. Take your time with this. Be absolutely honest with yourself. Uncovering any symptoms that show you don’t have a healthy level of self-love may be a bit painful but it is absolutely necessary. If any of the symptoms listed above show up, ask yourself why. Try to get to the root of the problem.
Once you have identified the problem, the root cause of your symptoms, then you can begin the process of healing – and it is a process. You can make sudden progress but healing will take some time.
Forgive those who have hurt you. Often people in our lives, particularly those we love and respect, have caused hurt and brokenness to us. It was not always done intentionally but it was done! Forgiving them will relieve you of much bitterness and anger. Forgiving them does not mean excusing their behavior or denying the damage but it does mean that past hurts will not continue to damage you.
Forgive yourself. If you spend too much time dwelling on past failures, you must forgive yourself of those failures. This will help you get past them. Often this is a major roadblock to healing. I find myself sometimes dwelling on my failures too long. Forgiving and moving on is essential. We can learn from past mistakes but we cannot let past mistakes beat us up!
Accept the love of God. God loves us unconditionally. We do nothing to earn his love. He loves us even when we have difficulty loving ourselves. He loves us when we can’t imagine anyone loving us. His love is always there for us. We have great value in his sight; we are created in his image; Jesus died for us. Thank him for loving you. Embrace his love and allow that love to envelope and comfort you.
Ask for healing. God will heal your broken life. He will help you forgive and accept his love. He will help you understand the tremendous value you have to him and to the world. His presence and continual strength in your life will transform you into a new person. Allow that healing to remain with you forever!
Stay in a healthy place. It is so important for your self-love that you rebuild healthy relationships and stay in a healthy place. Surround yourself with people that love you unconditionally. Stay away from those who have damaged you in the past. When these are family members, this becomes understandably difficult but all damaging relationships must be marginalized or eliminated.
Share the love. As you share love with others, the love you have for yourself will grow. Be generous and unconditional in sharing love. Be joyful with the joy God gives you as you bask in his love!
Do One Thing
Today, do one thing on the list above. Make sure you love yourself. When you are sure of that, you know you can love the other people in your life as well. Take time to thank God for his perfect love!