Learning to Love Yourself Written by Lauri K Sompres
“Learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all.” George Benson sang it originally...but it was Whitney Houston that made the song a major hit in 1986. Twentythree years ago. Has it really been that long? The lyrics touched me deeply when I was just a child. Even though I was young, I always felt the ultimate truth in those words. I wanted that love....I wanted it bad. But I didn’t really know how to “get it.” So the years kept passing. And I kept searching.
Men, shopping, booze, careers, selfhelp books, food....we try it all, don’t we?!? Plunging into anything that may give us a reason to believe we’re worthy or fill that void telling us maybe we’re not. We all know self love doesn’t stem from the externals in life...it has to come from within. Nevertheless, we spend a lot of time looking for “proof” we have a reason to love ourselves. Until we learn what selflove is truly about.
Many people think selflove is simply thinking highly of oneself. I used to think I loved myself because I could list a number of good qualities about my nature. I’m kind, intelligent, fun to be around, successful, thoughtful, etc. Of course I deserve to be loved! So why did I still feel empty inside? It took some time, a bit of floundering and a lot of soul searching to gain the understanding that it’s much more about how you treat yourself and how much respect and kindness you give to yourself. Love is not a belief or a feeling. Love is putting that feeling into action.
In my journey, I’ve discovered it’s best to start by listening to how you talk to yourself. Along the way, I realized I would never tell someone I cared about some of the things I said in my own mind. If my best friend went through a breakup, there’s no way I’d say, “Apparently you’re never going to have a happy relationship.” Or if my niece made a mistake, I wouldn’t say,“You’re just not good enough to ever do things right.” Loving people don’t say those things to others. Yet I’d hear myself saying similar things inside my own head...to the most important person in my life.
Now this is what trips some people up: Is it selfish to call myself the most important person in my life? Absolutely not! I mean, whose life am I living anyway? Selflove is not about boasting or thinking you are superior. Boasting comes from insecurity while loving yourself creates security. Just like a child who is loved & nurtured feels safe, when you love yourself, you give yourself that same stability. People who boast are unfortunately not in love with who they are. They need to point out all their finest attributes or accomplishments so hopefully you will tell them they are magnificent...because they aren’t so sure about it themselves.
Of course, most of us really want to help and serve our community, family and friends, but we also know you have to love yourself before you can truly love anyone else. We’ve all heard that a thousand times. It’s why they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others when you’re on a flight. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t have the strength to help anyone around you. Unfortunately, many of us still spend the majority of our time & energy taking care of others while we overlook the most important relationshipthe one we have with ourselves. We need to remember, the more we treat ourselves lovingly and with respect, the more love and respect we have to give to the world. You can’t give away what you don’t have. Barbara De Angelis summarized this perfectly when she said,
“If you aren't good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you'll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren't even giving to yourself.”
So what does life look like when you DO commit to loving yourself? For one, you live a more peaceful existence. When you truly love yourself, you begin to understand how much you sincerely deserve to be treated kindly and with respect. Once you begin treating yourself this way, the quality of your relationships improves, as well. You choose more supportive people to be a part of your inner circle because they fit your model. When you are being kind, patient and compassionate with yourself, you won’t allow others to be cruel, degrading or disrespectful to you. Difficult people will certainly still arise. We are all imperfect humans with different backgrounds and challenges but selflove is an anchor that helps you weather the storm. When challenging people are around, you are more equipped to deal with them so you don’t get knocked around like a canoe in a hurricane. You are centered and realize you can only be responsible for yourself so you don’t have to get wrapped up in the drama of someone else.
I am blessed to be a part of a very supportive group of women as part of my inner circle. “The New Hollywood" Women's Goal Group is a group of professional women in the entertainment industry of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. We support each other in achieving both our personal and professional goals and also donate over $10,000 each year to various charities. We recently did a photo shoot highlighting the women of TNH that’s been made into a calendar to raise money for TreePeople – an environmental nonprofit. If you want to support the health of our environment, you can purchase the calendar for $25.15 (includes shipping) at www.thenewhollywood.org. All proceeds go directly to TreePeople.
The key is to form this type of supportive relationship with yourself above all else. Treat yourself as the prized possession you are. When you’re struggling, have compassion for yourself the way you would for a child. Be gentle with yourself. When you accomplish something you set out to do, acknowledge your success with a pat on the back. Celebrate! And when someone gives you a compliment, receive it graciously and choose to believe what they’re saying is TRUE! And do you know the best part about falling madly, deeply and sincerely in love with yourself? It’s a love you never have to be afraid of losing. It’s always with you. There is no one else that’s by your side all day, everyday, every single moment....might as well be nice to yourself and enjoy it!
“I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first and everything else falls into line."
Live in love!
Lauri K Sompres
President of Inspired Success
Professional Speaker/Empowerment Coach www.inspiredsuccess.com
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.