Love yourself before anyone else can.
Clichés aside, behind this saying lies a concept that is both extremely easy to grasp and strangely difficult to apply to yourself. At first glance, who loves you first does not seem to have that great of an impact on your happiness. And yet, if you are anything like me, there is always that little panicky voice reminding you of the vulnerable position you are putting yourself in by relying only on others to feel loved and happy. What happens when they are gone?!
The statement plays on our desire to be happy and loved. Contrary to what most of us believe, we should aim to have others’ love add on to our own self-love, instead of replacing it. In essence, the saying urges us to realize that others’ love and company cannot make for our only source of love and happiness. It is of no real value if it is not combined with a good amount of previously developed self-love and confidence.
Self-love is cultivated throughout our lives. It will stay with us for as long as we want it to, and continue to develop it. Unlike the people around us, it cannot suddenly disappear entirely.
The problem of relying on others
Now, you might still be thinking: “What’s wrong with others making me happy?” Nothing. The problem is the “relying on” part. It implies that others play too big of a role in what makes you happy. In some cases, they are the only thing making you happy. And given that you are not likely to be surrounded by people who ‘love you’ 24/7, this may get troublesome from time to time. There will inevitably be moments in your life where you will find yourself away from these exact people.
Relying solely (or for a largest part) on others to feel good therefore comes with a high risk of disappointment and unhappiness. The good feeling they procure us is most-likely going to replace and distract us from the happiness we create for ourselves.
What happens then?
Without wanting to sound too dramatic, you might fall in to a sort of ‘black hole’, questioning why you are feeling so unhappy all of a sudden. You might decide to seek out new people to replace the old ones- the cycle continues. Upon meeting these people, your mind will remember that short moment of in-between panic, making it more likely to become (overly) attached to the people you meet- from friends to partners.
Missing the old ones is probably causing you more sorrow than you have ever felt before. ‘Missing them’ essentially means you are glorifying the memories you share and living in the past as if it were some kind of fairytale. Thankfully, this is also the closest you will ever get to realizing that you have been relying on others to make you happy. You might realize that you are unable to feel fully satisfied with yourself as a source of love and happiness.
If you have ever felt this way, or do so now, know that it is really a matter of cultivating self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-love. I know, it’s not that easy, but at least you can start right now, without relying on anyone else 😉
Avoid becoming overly attached to the compliments others give you on your work ethic, career, grades, looks, or interests because as soon as one or more of these things change or fall away, you will start longing for things to stay the same, or return to the way they were.
Instead, realize what you are really worth, without linking your worth to the above-mentioned ‘conditions’. Ultimately you will start practicing unconditional love for yourself, as you would for a brother, sister, or child. Regardless of what happens to their interests, careers, hobbies, or looks, you will love them endlessly.
TRY THIS: Meditate with the intention of practicing such unconditional self-love. Do it for a while, visit a meditation teacher if you need to, and feel, in a way, re-born in to the self-confident, authentic, and honest person you’re meant to be. Once you notice how good this will make you feel, you will start loving that person automatically.
Alternatively look in to affirmations!