This post is featured on behalf of Stacey White.
There’s an idea in popular psychology that a person cannot truly give or receive love, within an intimate relationship context, unless they first love themselves and have a healthy level of self-esteem and self-worth.
In fact, the antidote to many of our emotional challenges can be found within the field of self love, particularly when it comes to the challenges we often face in our relationships and love life.
There are plenty of things we can do to increase our feeling of self worth, yet often we don’t see it as anywhere near as important as it actually is to nurture this part of our emotional development; yet it’s so easy.
For instance, one of the best ways to improve your feeling of self-worth is to help others. It could be impromptu such as helping someone reach something on a high shelf. Or more structured like volunteering at Habitat HM. There’s an idea within practical psychology that suggest the secret to living a fulfilled life is by giving to others.
However, it’s not all about giving to others. Indeed, many people with low levels of self worth and self-esteem often give way too much of themselves, and then, like a rubber band that’s been overstretched snap back and feel resentful of people taking advantage of them.
A good way to view the importance of self-love (i.e. loving and taking care of yourself first) is to consider the fact airline pilots always instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping anybody else; even your child!
The challenge, in a romantic context, is that we often end up giving love in order to receive love. Operating from this depleted state can start to feel transactional, which is where couples begin to feel resentful and keep score of what has been given and received; this is a recipe for discontentment.
When we are dependent on getting our love from someone else, it means we are giving our power to that other person. Our happiness becomes contingent on receiving something from someone else. We we have no control over how giving of love they are; which is why people start to behave in controlling ways, if their emotional needs are not being met.
Make sure you are nurturing and nourishing yourself with enough self-love.
See, when people lack self-love, they end up acting out of desperation and this can manifest in a variety of ways. For instance, some people will chase after someone that doesn’t always treat them with the value and respect they desire, or they might start cheating on a partner in an attempt to have their insatiable thirst for love quenched by someone else.
The problem, is that when you are running low on self-love it’s like a car running low on fuel, in that you are desperate to have gas put in the tank and are living in a state of reaction the whole time.
When you are giving part of yourself to someone else, you should be giving the overflow, not what you pour into the cup.