“If one more person tells me to love myself first, I am going to punch them in the face.”
I had been talking to a lovely, young man who was having trouble finding love. He told me that he couldn’t love himself if nobody else did.
And I had just suggested that his worth did not depend on whether others loved and accepted him. And that, maybe…just maybe, it was time to focus on loving himself first before he could find romance and a relationship with somebody else.
And the above was his answer.
Reading Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani's new book "Becoming Flawesome" recently reminded me of this episode.
And I of course understand where he is coming from. Why he feels that he can’t love himself.
After all, we have been told all our lives that we must earn love and happiness. We must be deserving of it. And to become deserving of love, we must have enough worth.
And to have enough worth, we must be perfect. In every way.
Which is the main reason why we struggle so much to love and accept ourselves.
The sobering reason why you cannot love yourself
We are all really good at putting conditions on love. Even, and especially, our own.
“Once I lose 20 lbs, I will be able to love myself.”
“Once I get a better job, I will be worthy of love.”
“Once I get my emotions under control, I will be acceptable.”
“Once I can be good enough, I will deserve to be loved.”
But what happens when we actually manage to meet these conditions?
Of course not!
Because there are always more flaws, always more shortcomings that stand between us and perfection.
And if we make our ability to love ourselves dependent on the eradication of ALL our flaws, self-love will always elude us.
Because we believe that we cannot accept ourselves as long as we have flaws.
Or we try our hardest to love ourselves DESPITE our flaws. With usually very limited success.
Because we perceive our imperfections as barriers. Deal-breakers that make it impossible to love and accept ourselves.
And they must be removed before self-love even becomes an option.
But that’s not how love works. At all.
What makes you loveable?
You see, it’s not our shortcomings and weaknesses that stop love from entering our life. It’s the BELIEF that they do.
We believe that our flaws will inevitably get us rejected. Because they are unacceptable.
And we start to hate them for ruining our life and happiness.
And because these flaws are part of us, we blame ourselves for the lack of love. And we hate ourselves, reject ourselves because we are so impossible to love.
All because we have flaws. We aren’t perfect.
But have you ever thought about what makes a person loveable?
Have you ever truly loved someone? A parent, a partner or a child? Maybe a friend?
Why did you love them? What made them endearing?
Did you love that they were perfect? That they never put a foot wrong, never had a bad day, never made a mistake or said the wrong thing?
I somehow doubt it.
When we truly love someone, we love them WITH their quirks and oddities. We not only overlook their flaws, but they are part of what makes them unique and loveable in the first place.
Perfection is not only a myth, it is also a turnoff.
Just think about it.
Imagine a world where we were all perfect. Where nobody had any flaws, or quirks, where nobody was different.
We would all be the same. All perfectly identical. How terribly, mind-numbingly boring would that be?
It’s our so-called flaws that make us unique. And special. They are an essential part of what makes you authentically YOU.
So, the question is not: “Can you love yourself DESPITE all your flaws?” But: “Will you love yourself WITH all your flaws?”
Because, at the end of the day, they are part of you. They are part of your authentic Self. And they deserve your love.
You deserve your love. Just as you are.
How to choose to love and accept yourself
Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still work on overcoming some of your flaws. But while you do, don’t make overcoming them a prerequisite to loving yourself.
Don’t make ANYTHING a prerequisite to loving yourself.
Self-love is not a destination that awaits at the end of a long, gruelling journey to perfection. Let’s face it, we will never get there. Nobody will.
No, self-love is a choice.
A choice only you can make. And a choice you can make right now.
It’s a conscious decision to accept your flaws, your mistakes and shortcomings with kindness. Because they are a big part of your uniqueness. They are your teachers and your guiding light for transformation.
And they will never make you worth less.
You ARE worth personified. Worth is the essence of your Being. As long as you live, you can never lose your worth.
So, your flaws don’t matter, perfection doesn’t matter.
They change nothing.
But once you choose to love and accept yourself, other people will be able to love you too. Your relationships will flourish and transform.
Because you will no longer shine all your light on your flaws, making them the only thing you present to the world. You will finally be able to shift your focus, and light up your authentic loveable Self instead.
Making it possible for everybody to see YOU.
Finally, the world will be able to perceive the true YOU, that was hidden behind your flaws and sacrificed in the pursuit for perfection for far too long.
Perfection is not the answer to gaining love and acceptance. Obliterating all your flaws and shortcomings is not the key to living a happy life.
The real path to self-love is accepting yourself…WITH all your flaws. Treating yourself with kindness…WITH all your flaws. Loving yourself…you guessed it, WITH all your flaws.
The real path to self-love is to embrace your amazing, authentic YOU.
Without judgement, condemnation. Or shame.
Because, as Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani says in her insightful new book, life is a dance. And you will float elegantly one day, and fall flat on your face the next. You may step on your partner’s toes today and forget the steps altogether tomorrow.
But it doesn’t matter.
Because it’s your flaws that ultimately make you flawesome.
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