Loving You First…Over and Over Again
Either you have heard it or said it yourself before, “you must first love yourself before you can love others.” The saying essentially means that you need to learn how to feel worthy of love and the best way to do that is to accept and love yourself. Once you are able to embrace who you are and love yourself for just that, you are more able to accept the love of others. But how do you know you love yourself before loving others in your life? Is it merely a gut intuition? Perhaps it’s a pivotal transition of change that happens in your life? Maybe it’s more of a self-assuring feeling that sits with you daily?
The answer is unclear.
The Story from the Apple Orchard
In Jack’s orchard sits fifty Gala Apple trees. Apple tree A and B grow side by side and produce some of the tastiest apples in the orchard. As the apple picking season is among him, Jack picks one bucket full of apples from both trees. He was proud of the apples likeness this year. Jack then slices up a few apples from each basket and takes a slice from each one. Some are sweet, others are really juicy and a couple are a bit tart. Upon further inspection of the apples, he notices the difference of each one. Some are large whilst others are small to medium in size. A handful of the apples are completely red whereas the others have striations of yellow. Though all round in shape, each apple has its own dents, dimples and divots. The apples were not as alike as Jack initially thought.
After noticing the variation in size, color, shape and even taste, Jack ponders, “why are apples from the same tree so different?” He thought to himself, “is it the amount of sunshine the tree gets on each side? Is it the amount of rain? Could it be some sort of soil variation?”
Jack compared apples from Tree A and Tree B. He noticed that though having come from tree A, some apples looked more like apples from Tree B than apples of the same tree, BUT no apple whatsoever was just alike. Despite the noticeable differences and similarities, he concluded that the reason no apple was like another was that each individual apple had its own LIFE, so to speak. Each individual apple grew at its own pace, sprouted from its own branch of the tree (high and low) and had varying exposure to the elements of weather. Jack learned that though his apples have much in common, they are all uniquely special.
So what does Jack’s Apple Orchard Story have to do with loving yourself first? Well, much like what Jack initially missed in observation of his apples, psychotherapist, Ken Page writes in his article How to Love Yourself First, that loving yourself first “misses a great truth.” Page’s premise that if in relationships “if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to be taught to love aspects of ourselves–again and again–by the people around us.” He further supports his idea by writing that the “only way to learn self-love is by being loved-precisely in the places where we feel most unsure and most tender.”
His argument encourages you to get in touch with your truest self and embrace who you are every step of the way. Though the psychotherapist’s idea that self-love can be impacted by others, he acknowledges that self-love can also be shifted by your individual innate behaviors. Just like Jack’s apples’ individual experiences on the trees, your behaviors can also be impacted by your life experiences, circumstances, opportunities, processes, feelings, emotions, etc. Thus, you are unique in every essence of your life.
So how can there possibly be ONE formula to loving yourself first for every unique person (and apple) in the world? The answer is, there isn’t. Coinciding with the argument Page proposes that you must learn to love yourself over and over again, there are many ways to cultivate this self-love process one day at a time.
Here are a few ideas on how to give self-love a try today!
- Take care of yourself. Inhale. Exhale. Eat right. Exercise. Rest. Live in the present.
- Get in-touch with yourself. Ask, “who am I at my best? What am I doing when I am most authentic? What makes me special?”
- Forgive for self progress. Take every experience in stride so that you may learn how to improve each new experience moving forward. Let it go!
- Practice Positive Affirmations. Think about yourself as the glass is half full rather than the glass is half empty.
- Accept yourself flaws and all. Let go of comparisons and judgement of yourself. Instead, choose to embrace your most unique and positive qualities.
- Exemplify gratitude in life. Noticing all things you have, whether great or small, you will instantly feel an increase of self-love.
- Be okay being alone. Remove yourself from the world as you understand it and get totally lost in yourself. Let it be!
- Serve others humbly. The act of giving is not for those receiving but rather for those giving.
There are sooo many ways to practice loving yourself first. For example, in this clever and fun action step, Renada Crawford was able to incorporate something she loves doing with something she loves about herself. Through her talent of baking, she was able to highlight her sense of humor as an attribute that she loves about herself on this delicious chocolate pie. Renada was able to connect and notice herself as she is thus growing her self-love through a continual practice. Way to go Renada!
Photo Submitted by Renada Crawford
What are you doing to love yourself over and over again? We want to hear your story. Email us!
– Casey Edmonds, CHC