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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » When You Don't Love Yourself

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Author Topic: When You Don't Love Yourself
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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While I was off the last few days, doing a lot of reflective work, I spent some of that time thinking about all of you, as well.

Often enough, it's come up in discussion that loving others is something we really can't do well when we don't love ourselves. I absolutely agree that that's true. However, I think that that might get misunderstood a lot, or only partly understood, especially the way that message can tend to be delivered or simplified in our world.

In a nutshell, I think the simplification of that message, in either the delivery or interpretation tends to wind up being something like, "If I don't think I'm awesome, I can't think anyone else is awesome." And if that's how we understand it, it's no wonder it seems like bullshit, because...well, it is.

Ultimately, what "I need to love myself to love others" means to me is that I need to *learn* to love myself first -- including things like real self-acceptance, including accepting the parts of myself or my history I'm not proud of, don't think are awesome, or don't make me feel awesome; including things like working to still love me even when I don't feel or seem so loveable, even when I think I suck.

And the truth of the matter is that that is challenging: it actually is hard work sometimes, if not all the time, and it is something we need to learn. The hardest parts of loving ourselves are also often the hardest parts of loving someone else, especially over time. After all, it's pretty easy to love someone when we're just getting to know them, before the more challenging parts of who they are are things they tend to even show us or become part of our interaction with them. Over time, we have to tend to deal more and more with those parts, with loving someone when maybe we feel sick of them, when we're having to accept things about them they or we consider or know to be flaws or weaknesses.

But if we've already done this for ourselves,. or at least started to get some real practice with it, it's a lot easier: if we haven't done this for ourselves, changes are that we earnestly can't do it for someone else, because we don't know how yet, you know?

As well, if we can't accept ourselves, including the parts we don't like, we're not likely to be able to really let others do that or believe others when they do, and that's part of love, too.

That was a lot of front-loading, but what I want to do here is kind of open the door to talking about things you're struggling with in learning to love yourself, giving and getting some help and support in that, and really making loving yourself a priority. Not OVER loving others, per se, but with an understanding that until we at least have a foot in the door with self-love like this, really loving others isn't even something we actually have the capacity to do.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

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I can relate to this post. I often find it hard to love and accept myself, which probably explains some of why I feel scared and undeserving of receiving love from a partner, or even from my family. I tend to push people away or really hold back in relationships because I can't accept that they would really want me. Part of that is about living in a prejudiced society/family with racism, sexism and homophobia. Part of it comes from experiencing depression. And where the rest of it comes from, I'm not sure.

I am working on self love and taking care of myself this year. A therapist once talked with me about how I can't look after anyone else when I'm depressed and broken. And that the best thing I could do for my family was to first be happy and secure in myself- which is very true, although I'd never considered that before!

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Hey, eryn, it's good to see you. Did you change your sig line recently? I love that quote, love Lorde, period, but that one is so, so perfect for you. Hope you have it on a wall or mirror where you live, too!

I'm so glad to hear that you're planning to invest more energy in self-care and, I'm hoping, self-acceptance.

You know, sometimes when I think abut any kind of -ism, it actually strikes me as an issue of self-acceptance, too, and a lack thereof. I mean, if and when we really accept ourselves, other people aren't a threat to who we are because they're different. I think that bigotry and bias really feeds on insecurity and a lack of self-acceptance in that people who don't feel very secure in who they are DO feel threatened by the differences of others, often because they're locked into -- or have signed unto -- a framework where people aren't large groups who have things in common or have differences (and with anyone, it's usually some measure of both), but are either better or worse, more or less good, etc.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
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Thanks Heather, I like the quote too. I remember once (a few years ago!) you told me to put "I am deserving of love" on my mirror. I am getting there [Smile] . I know I will get to the place/time when I can really love someone one day.

Agree about the -isms. People who feel happy/secure in themselves usually don't have these prejudiced ideas and behaviors towards others.

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm so glad to hear that, eryn. You know I think the world of you. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Patricia H
Volunteer-in-training
Member # 103815

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Wow, eryn_smiles took the words right out of me; it was as if I had written that post myself, especially the first paragraph. I, too, struggled (and currently still do, but not as frequently) with issues of self-esteem and self worth, and it scared me to see how my personal problems reared their ugly heads in personal relationships and situations when I least wanted them to.

I think one of the frustrating things about dealing with stuff like this is knowing that you have a problem, and wanting to resolve it, but not knowing how and/or where to get the resources to help you do it. Moreover, I think the other thing, too, is accepting and knowing that it's not something that can be resolved overnight, especially if it's an issue that took time to develop (read: years), and reversing the damage is going to take work -- the kind where you have to do all of it, or at least a large part of it, because no one else can do it for you. In many ways, that can be a scary prospect in itself. If anything, I think my peers and I can at least take solace in knowing that this is a common issue that some people continue to struggle with all their lives, sometimes never to be resolved. So for us to recognize this now and aim our efforts to overcoming it, I say, is more power to us. [Smile]

While I am by no means an expert at loving myself, I can say that I have improved over time; the key to doing well, I think, is taking small steps, and giving myself permission to celebrate moments where I recognize and acknowledge myself moving away from the usual self-hatred and masochism. Just even thinking back to all the things I can do well and enjoy doing is a start. I've even slowly started to be okay with buying nice things for myself, something I could never do in the past without thinking I was being foolish with my money and I somehow didn't deserve to have nice things.

I remember reading one of Heather's articles on Scarleteen, and a particular phrase/sentence had jumped out at me and stayed with me ever since: something to the tune of, we tend to treat others nicer than we do to ourselves. As true as that observation is, it made me question, "why can't I treat myself as well as I treat others, if not better?" The reality is that there is nothing in the world/universe that puts me on a lesser footing or anything else that would make me otherwise inferior to anyone else here in existence.

But when you've screwed up and/or had a really rough day, when all you want to do is just curl up into a ball and die, that reality is the farthest thing from your mind; I get it. We all get it. As awful as it seems, it's usually when we feel like we love ourselves the least that we need to love ourselves the most. Have compassion, be kind; if we could do it for a stranger who's down in the dumps, why couldn't we do it for ourselves?

This reminds me of a quote I saw somewhere: "Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. After all, you are all you’ve got to work with."

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Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

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eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

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It's good to read your thoughts on this, Patricia H. Sometimes it feels such a struggle, even to get from the self-hate/disgust stage to feeling neutral about myself, let alone loving [Frown]

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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