In my post about connecting with others, I mentioned that self-love and receiving + accepting love from others go hand-in-hand. This has been rolling around in my mind ever since – it was kind of one of those aha! moments. It seems so obvious, right?! But at the same time, I think it’s easy to keep at surface-level and not really dig any deeper into how these things connect.
Now what do I mean by that? Well, I think a lot of people just float through life on autopilot – I’ve totally been guilty myself – without taking the time to think about or analyze themselves or their situation. We avoid digging deeper into our thoughts, our hurt, our trauma, or whatever else, so that we don’t have to actively do the work to heal ourselves. And because owning these things mean we take some responsibility too, which can be tough.
We’re human. And it’s easier to avoid than it is to work on improving ourselves. I get it – I’ve been there – but I assure you, you’ll feel so much better once you decide to actively heal what hurts. It’ll free you in ways you never even considered. And when you feel better, you’ll finally realize you deserve better.
So, there’s this quote-
We accept the love we think we deserve.
And this is exactly where self-love comes into play. When we don’t love ourselves, we don’t respect ourselves. And honestly, this invites others to treat us the same. Since we have this innate desire to connect with others, we do our best to make connections, even if it means we sacrifice the love we truly deserve. We end up grasping at whatever is available, even if it’s not what’s best for us.
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I was in a long-term relationship and marriage for 13 years. We began dating when I was 17, and it was the only love I’d ever known for nearly half of my life. Since this was my first love, I surely didn’t have a comparison, and really, did I even know what it meant to be in love? Not really, I guess – but we live, and we learn. I mean, do we ever really know what it means to be in love, or do we just learn we can love differently?
So anyway, here I am in this relationship for years and years, accepting what was. And when I look back now, I feel like I should’ve analyzed things a bit more. I guess it’s not that I didn’t have questions, but that I didn’t allow the answers.
I mean no disrespect to the relationship I had – everything happens for a reason after all. It’s just that hindsight is 20/20, and when you look back, it’s easy to see and understand things you either didn’t give thought to before, or simply wouldn’t allow.
Again, if you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I also had another relationship that was a tough one for me. I was in a bad place then, putting all the blame on him. And it wasn’t until recently really, that I finally accepted that I was also to blame. My lack of self-love at the time placed him and this relationship in such a negative light. It was hard to see beyond the dislike I had for myself, and surely enough, what I was putting out is exactly what I was getting back. And it was less than I deserved. But the thing is, with such a lack of self-love, I wasn’t actually convinced that it wasn’t exactly what I deserved.
And this it where accepting love becomes hard. Without self-love, we undoubtedly accept less than we deserve – we just don’t know it. And you’re not going to know it until you do the work to heal, so that you can come to a place of loving yourself. It takes work to clear the space around you – your emotional space. You have to let go of and heal the hurt, drop the defensiveness, accept responsibility for your part and your actions. It takes work – a lot of work.
Now that I am past the storm that was my life for 3 years, I see things so very differently. Again, hindsight being 20/20. I’ve written, thought about, and (over) analyzed every.single.little.thing. I learned to accept responsibility for myself, my actions, and the role I played. I absolutely HAD to do all of these things in order to heal myself so that I could love myself wholeheartedly.
And now? I know what I deserve in love. And I absolutely will not settle for anything less than what I know I deserve. It’s about taking a stance and not grasping at just anything. There is freedom in knowing I don’t have to accept just any love, but that I will allow myself to wait for what I deserve. And that when I find that love, I will accept it wholeheartedly – with vulnerability and all. As scary as that might be, it’s also very exciting. I think that when you love yourself, you come know what you will and will not accept in love.
When I think about being in love and accepting love, a few simple yet powerful questions come to mind.
- What is love?
- What does it mean to be in love?
- What love do I deserve?
- What would it mean to accept a love less than I deserve?
I think these are probably good questions to answer prior to falling into a relationship again. Or well, even if you are in a relationship – they are still valid questions to answer to ensure you’re receiving, allowing, and accepting the love you truly deserve. BUT, make sure you love yourself first.
For me, after the last few years, I just feel more prepared for love – to give love and to accept love. Sure, it’s unfortunate it took all that it did, but I’m grateful, nonetheless. I am thankful for the self-love that I have and for the experiences that shaped me into who I am today.
Who knew there could be so much underlying what it means to love ourselves, to love others, and to accept love from others? It’s way deeper than just surface-level. Unfortunately, it seems surface-level is where a lot of people get stuck, though. Dig deeper, my friends.
And love yourself first, the rest will follow.