When we were Young Part 2 – by Abidemi Adebola “Sometimes our best love moments
“True happiness…arises, in the first place from the enjoyment of one’s self” – Joseph Addison.
It is the love season folks! Yippee!!
Let me confess, I am a sucker for love, boy meet girl fairy tales, happily ever after and everything between. Hollywood, Nollywood, Bollywood, in short all the wood that makes up the movie and music industry worldwide have told love stories in various dimensions that we are saturated and convinced love can solve all the problems in the world which is not farfetched if we think about it. what is more? You will find the greatest love story ever written in the Bible.
We all crave that heady feeling of being in love, loving someone or someone loving us. This is probably a phenomenon that is universal and at some point or the other we may have been or assumed to be in love. What makes up love or what it means to be in love, theories, practicality and all the nitty gritty I will leave to the experts.
But I do believe that the ability to give or reciprocate love and attract the kind of love one truly deserve and desire is rooted in the love you give to yourself.
I will explain.
We all agree that you cannot give what you don’t have, right? Yes. Many of us grew up in environment devoid of love and our basic instinct thrived on survival. Hence, the idea of sacrifices, being there for another human, taking ownership, mutual respect, kindness, sincerity, clarity of purpose and other ancillaries are alien to us. It is akin to classic conditioning in behavioral psychology which is an unconscious and automatic learning. By default, loving oneself and by extension loving others became an uphill task just by the virtue of growing up in such situations.
That is why people who grew up in violent situation will most likely exhibit violent tendencies because that is what they know. It will take the introduction of another type of stimulus to recondition such behavioral pattern.
How is it possible to love others when you don’t love yourself?
How can you possibly say someone loves you when you haven’t even identified what love means to you?
Let’s start with learning how to love oneself as it forms the foundation of what you expect from others! If you don’t know what you want, how then do you demand and place premium on it?
Loving yourself, AKA self-love is when you realize you are dignified and deserving, the unshakable, uncompromising belief that you are worthy of love, respect, safety, and belonging, regardless of your thoughts, feelings, or actions and other external factors. It involves showing up for yourself even when you feel otherwise, taking the steps to listen to yourself, identify what caused you to not respect or identify your needs or boundaries.
It does not however mean that you always feel good, or make the best choices or have the best approaches all the time. It does not also take away the fact that you may have doubts or be insecure about some aspect of your life.
Self-love is the constant forgiveness you give yourself, how you pick yourself up when you fall, how you treat your body, mind, heart and soul. It is how you value your time. It is an acknowledgement that you are a work-in-progress, an ever evolving soul that is compassionate, respectful of her being and fully committed to self-improvement.
It is the commitment to choose you despite the overwhelming circumstance you may find yourself, the growth, the discipline, an eternal promise to honour yourself, regardless.
Truth be told, self-love is a higher level of calling. It calls for an intentional consciousness and a deep sense of self evaluation that has to be carried out honestly without any form of self-deceit or conceit. It is literally going naked in front of a mirror, seeing your strength, frailties and everything between, acknowledging them accepting them and owning them. Fact is nobody can hurt you with the truth you know about yourself.
When you fall in love with yourself, you’ll naturally spread that love out into the world, improving the quality of your life and others. When you love yourself, you receive more love in return. When you exude confidence and joy, you’ll attract others with the same zest for living.
Succinct to say that loving and accepting others become easier when you truly deeply love yourself.
A few ways to know you are practicing self-love and by extension, others;
- You are forgiving – See, it is easy to forgive other people when you have learnt to forgive yourself. it does not mean the wrong was not committed, it simply means it has no hold over you and you are in the position to decide to forgive and let go.
- You set healthy boundaries ad also respect those set by others.
- It will be difficult, almost impossible to stay and accommodate abuse if you practice self-love, the practicality of it connotes you deserve respect and compassion, hence, you cannot afford for your dignity to be stripped away.
- You realize and identify what is toxic to your soul and you consciously choose your relationships and friendships in line with the same principles. You only surround yourself with people who truly care about you, support you, and want what’s best for you. You let the healthy relationships grow and filter out the toxic ones.
- You take better care of your health, mindful of habit and lifestyle choices that are detrimental to you. You prioritize your mental health knowing that you are whole and that the state of your mind is equally as important as your body.
- You don’t compare yourself with others- you are confident in your own self and engage in healthy competition. you acknowledge other people’s achievements knowing that it does not belittle your own. You know you’re on your own path and will find a different, yet still meaningful form of success. You love yourself fully, so you’re happy to see others succeed.
- You express yourself with clarity and you’re not ashamed of what you want or what you don’t want. Your opinion is important, and you’re not worried about what other think.
- You no longer accommodate negative voices that are discouraging and demeaning in your head and you speak positively without picking yourself apart. You believe you are good enough and everything will be okay.
- You practice gratitude- you are grateful for everything you have, you don’t have time to focus on what is missing in your life you know you’re not owed anything and feel blessed for what you do have. This breeds contentment in your soul thereby eliminating envy and jealousy.
- You are patient with yourself and others- you understand you are human and error are bound to happen so you don’t beat yourself up, instead you are kind to yourself by taking the learning point and forge ahead. We make mistakes, we feel emotions (good and bad) and this is OK. Allow yourself to be human.
- You treat others with love and respect- you should treat people the way we hope to be treated. That doesn’t mean everybody will always repay the favor, you cannot control their behavior anyway, but that’s their problem not yours. You have done your part and that is enough.
So yeah, valentine is around the corner, romance is in the air and we are very excited about it. I have tons of ideas I could share with you as per self-professed connoisseur of all things love that I am.
I mean getting flowers and gift will be nice accompanied with a note of everything wonderful they mean to you! Going on that date with your significant other would not be a bad idea. What about a boat cruise? Or a beacation on an island? Could it be a full day of exciting surprises? Some men are going to pop the question and some ladies are going to say “yes”! social media will be agog with the glitz and bling and we would swoon at the heady feelings.
In all of the ensuing excitement I want you to take the time out to reflect, fall in love with yourself or do so over again, evaluate the love you are giving and receiving. Is it elevating and edifying? Please remember, there is nothing romantic about a love that breaks your spirit.
Cheers to a love that is wholesome, vibrant and kind.
Happy Valentine’s day!
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