Recently at an ‘80’s karaoke party, I paid tribute to Tina Turner by belting out one of my favorite tunes “Whoa-Oh-Oh! What’s love got to do – got to do with it? What’s love but a second-hand emotion?” Not sure I did the great Tina Turner justice on that night, but I can say I put my heart and soul into every off-key note! And it brought up an interesting, more specific question in my mind - What’s self-love got to do with our ability to fully give and receive love?
We’ve all heard that old saying that you can’t love another until you truly love yourself, and as we celebrate love in all its forms this month, I wanted to take a closer look at that statement to see how much truth it holds.
Sometimes self-care and self-compassion can be misunderstood as being “selfish” or “self-centered,” yet is it a key ingredient to being able to love and care for others? I tend to believe it is.
Here’s a little metaphor for you: It’s surprising how far your car can take you when the gas light is on and you’re right on the line of being empty, but eventually, if you don’t stop to fill up the tank, you’ll run out of gas and be stuck on the side of the road. The same goes for your “love tank”…I know – gag! So cheesy! But seriously, if you don’t do the little things that help you to feel beautiful, loveable, and worthwhile, yourself, and you depend solely on someone else to refill your tank, you risk running on empty for too long. And if you’re running on empty, how in the world can you expect to have any love leftover to give to your partner, children, pets, or friends? And what’s to stop you from developing resentment toward the person you’ve deemed responsible for making you feel loved, loveable, beautiful, and complete – thank you Jerry Maguire…. But honestly, we’re taught to believe we’re destined to meet someone someday that will finally fill that gaping hole in our hearts and souls, but perhaps if we dare to love ourselves first, and have a surplus to give to those around us, we’ll be more available, open, and aware to receive true, lasting love from others. Cue the guitar, kumbaya, and stuff.
But what if you don’t really believe that you’re worthy of love, so it’s hard to treat yourself kindly and receive kindness from others? Well, I guess you’re screwed….just kidding – come to Austin Mindfulness Center, and we’ll work on busting through this block together!
But seriously, without believing that you’re worthy of love, how can you receive it from someone else? Even if Prince Charming is genuinely pouring out his undying love and devotion to you, how can you trust it, believe it, and really soak it in if that voice in your head saying “Really? Why would he love you?” It’s just like if you’re having a great hair day, and you’re feeling pretty cute, but when someone compliments you, you feel embarrassed to receive the compliment and so shut it down with a humble or self-deprecating response like “Oh really?! Well I just washed it for once today…usually I just throw it in a bun,” instead of looking in the person’s eyes and genuinely digesting their compliment by saying “Thank you.” It’s the basic difference between blocking or receiving the gift of the compliment, and I think it’s similar to our block or receipt of the gift of love.
So, in spite of Disney princess stories, Hollywood’s depiction of beautiful, co-dependent love, and society’s (and many parents’) attempt to keep you a humble, self-deprecating individual, I challenge you to take a different perspective on love.
Here’s my three tips to fully give and receive love:
First, BELIEVE you deserve love. Second, don’t be afraid to fill yourself up with loving devotion first before outpouring to those around you or looking to others to fill you up. Lastly, get out of your own way, be awake and aware, and open yourself up to receive the outpouring of love all around you. I realize this is all way easier said than done, so if you would like a little guidance and support on your journey toward learning how to love yourself, we’re ready to lend a loving, helpful hand.
Written by Stephanie Trueblood, MA, LPC Intern
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.