I’ve Always Loved You

Posted On: 08.11.16

always lovedI’m a quote person.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stumbling upon lines in a book and underlining them, returning to them again and again. Other people’s words are sometimes just what I need to imbibe, an elixir of sorts, a way to learn, to realize, to wonder.

And what about this gem, from Tolstoy? I was thinking lots about this quote yesterday, about what it means to love a person unconditionally. He suggests that if we truly love someone we love them for who they are and not who we believe they should be or might be or who we want them to be. This is powerful stuff, but it’s also challenging. Because we are judgmental creatures, because we fashion expectations, because we conjure ideals.

It wasn’t until this morning that I thought of this quote in terms of self-love. Many years ago, the very notion of self-love would have made me roll my eyes, but not today. Today, it strikes me that self-love is absolutely central to happiness in life.

How can we love others or love the lives we are building if we don’t love ourselves first? I don’t believe we can.

For me, I think the whole drinking thing is tied up in questions of self-worth and self-love. When it comes down to it, I think I have a hard time loving myself – and believing in myself – when I’m drinking. On the flip side, I feel much closer to myself, more affection for myself, when I’ve stripped away the buffer of booze. Seen this way, it makes perfect sense that my life is better without alcohol because, yes, I believe it all begins with self-love. Without it, I think we are often miserable, if well-meaning, people.

But. Self-love does not, and should not, presuppose perfection. We need not have figured it all out (there is no such thing) to love ourselves. On the contrary, maybe the best we can do – and maybe this is really what “happy” people have in common – is to love ourselves now whatever our current self looks like, whatever flaws and foibles exist and persist.

There’s something important here and I will keep thinking about it. What does it mean to love ourselves? How can we teach our kids to love themselves, to enter a tough world with a deep-rooted affection for who they are?

And how do we learn to love others for who they are and not for who we think they should be?

None of this is easy. But oh is it important.

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6 Comments for: "I’ve Always Loved You"
  1. Love this post. Thank you for writing it. I totally agree with the Roll your eyes affect that ‘love yourself’ use to have on me (AND I am a therapist!!) BUT the older I get the more I am exploring this topic and realizing it is at the heart of everything. I even dubbed this year my Year of Self-Compassion. The more I have cultivated what I lovingly call My Biggest Fan the easier I am able to handle to stresses of life. What used to overwhelm me in the past, might still knock me down but my resilience is that much greater. It has greatly influenced my work with clients too (who also tend to be the roll your eyes people).

    I have been pondering the question of how to take that initial eye roll away. How to show people that hating on your self…beating yourself up constantly…thinking you aren’t enough/worthy DOES NOT motivate us? In fact, it does the exact opposite.

    Maybe it has been so over-used that ‘love yourself’ sounds so trite it doesn’t even seem to have any meaning anymore. But when you really dive into the idea is it is anything but trite. Loving yourself is PhD work. Thanks for inspiring the discussion.

  2. Annabelle

    Great post. I never feel greater self-loathing than when I know I’ve drunk more than the minimum (or even had anything to drink at all). Maybe going dry is the best way forward. Thanks for a wonderful and inspiring post.

  3. This post is very timely for me. And I connect with it so well. Self-love is something that I very much struggle with.

    And quotes are something I very much understand and feel similar about. I will take pictures of quotes that I can write down. I have made phone backgrounds out of quotes. I have sent quotes to people that I think would like them. Love, love, love quotes.

    I hope that you remember what you’ve said here, that perfection is not necessary for love – and I think that all of us can agree with that as we have all loved people (and hopefully ourselves) that are not perfect.

    Thank you for making me think.

  4. Arienne

    I keep a photo on my desk of myself this past March, beginning my annual 15k hike on a local mountain. I love to hike, and I usually love the challenge of trying to beat my time from the previous year. This year, however, I spent the entire hike mired in self-loathing. I drank way too much the past year, I had put on weight, done and said things to be ashamed of. I can see the self-loathing in that picture. I knew organizers of the event were stationed all over taking pictures of the participants. All I could think of was how undeserving I was of having my picture taken. My eyes are downcast, I am withdrawn, even as I start out doing something I normally absolutely love.

    I haven’t had anything to drink since April. I keep that picture up to remind myself of how much I love myself, and respect myself, when I am not drinking. It is hard to maintain not-drinking, but the alternative is too awful for me to want to return to.

  5. Angela

    This is a great post. I relate self love to looking after my body. Which is why I have started an exercising and healthy eating plan. Along the way this has included not drinking almost totally, but certainly nowhere near what I would have consumed about six months ago. I have read your post about drink with great interest. To be honest thinking “I’m alright”, but something registered and made me look close within. I feel that loving oneself, leads to one wanting to look after the self and so my journey begins. Thank you.

  6. An

    Ha! I can so relate to this post! Not only do I love quotes too (and the one from Tolstoy is such a gem!), but I also used to eye-roll when I’d hear someone talk about self-love. I think we need to grapple with it to discover it’s value + importance, right?
    For me, self-love is so much tied up with valuing myself + having that value come from within, and not from what others are thinking or saying about me (both the good + the bad) or from measuring myself against the achievements, strengths and lives of others (and thinking I should achieve at least the same + be more like them instead of using my very own talents + strengths), and regardless of whether I just did something great or made a mistake + screwed up.
    I think that perfection is one of the great self-love saboteurs, as we equate our value with how we do on the perfection scale we’ve installed for ourselves (which by definition means we’ll always be falling short + find a reason to be harsh on ourselves).
    It’s so fascinating to me how we are so conditional about loving ourselves – we only feel good about ourselves when we’ve met a certain number of (arbitrary!) criteria.
    Thanks for writing this post that is making me think – there’s so much more thoughts popping up + way too much for this comment box 🙂 That’s one of the reasons I love your blog (and Instagram posts) – they make me think and I looove that!
    Have a great weekend!

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