I often hear the phrase, “Someone else can only love you as much as you love yourself,” or “If you don’t love yourself, how are you supposed to love anyone else?”
I understand what these phrases are trying to do: they’re trying to convince us to love ourselves, right now. But – I respectfully disagree with these statements, and here’s why.
These statements imply that until we figure out how to love ourselves, we simply aren’t loveable. They imply that self-love is required before anyone else can love us. They imply that we must love ourselves in order to give and receive love. That’s a whole lot of pressure on us to figure it out fast, and I just don’t believe it’s true.
Here’s what I believe:
Even in the moments where we don’t love ourselves, we are still lovable.
Even during the years where loving ourselves is really freaking hard, we are still lovable.
Even if we can’t think of anything we like about ourselves, we are still lovable.
Let that sink in.
What I will say is this: until we learn to love ourselves exactly as we are, it’s really hard to trust the love we receive from others. It’s hard to notice it, to let it in, to believe we deserve it. When we don’t love ourselves, our relationships may not flourish as much as they could. They might not grow as much as they could. This doesn’t mean love isn’t there, or possible, or real – it just means we have a barrier to cross. That is very different than saying it isn’t possible; it is; it’s just harder when we have our own harsh critic telling us we don’t deserve it, or it won’t last, or we aren’t worthy of it.
If you are having a hard time loving yourself right now, I urge you to rid yourself of the idea that no one else can love you until you figure it out yourself. The last thing we need during harder moments is shame for being in harder moments, or messages telling us we can’t love or be loved until we learn to aim it fully at ourselves. Self-love is a process, and it ebbs and flows, and it shrinks and grows, and none of this has anything to do with whether or not we are lovable (hint: we are, always).