How Conditional Is Your Self Love?
Many of my clients come to me with issues around self love. They are often really high on the self esteem scale, but self love is a mystery to them. They haven’t the foggiest idea of what it means to love themselves. This is usually a function of having been brought up environments that lacked love and nurturing.
This lack results in them seeking out that love and nurturing in their adult lives. They look for it from partners, friends, even from strangers on the street.
They put their love out into the world in the form of looking out for everyone and they hope it will come back to them in the form of someone finally parenting them in the way that they didn’t get as a child. But it is too late for that. That time will never come.
And, for many, that is the stumbling block. They are so in need of that unconditional love from the outside that they refuse to admit that they missed their window of opportunity. And so they stay stuck – refusing to admit what is – demanding the love that they missed out on, and being upset when it doesn’t come their way. They end up hurt, sad, angry, and lonely.
Having come from an environment of this type myself and having spent the last 15 years working on clearing the results of that environment, the internal struggle to find that place of self love within has been a challenge. But here’s the key thing I’ve learned:
To be effective, self love can’t be conditional – ever.
And that’s the hardest lesson for my clients. Because you see, they have never experienced unconditional love – so they have no model for it. It makes perfect sense for them to hold themselves to a standard and then withdraw their love if they fail to meet that standard. The idea that the love should stay regardless of the result is confusing. What is the purpose of love if it isn’t to set a goal?
But self love isn’t about motivating yourself to be a better person. It’s about supporting you in who you are now. It is the foundation that you stand on to create yourself and your life. Without it, you are weak – subject to the whims of those you love. Inherently you understand that there is a need for a foundation of love and since you can’t find it within, you seek it outside of yourself. But here’s the rub.
Your personal power is intimately connected with your foundation of unconditional love. Where one goes, the other follows.
Which means, if you can’t find unconditional love within and instead you look for it outside of yourself, then your personal power will always follow that seeking – meaning that you will always be giving away your power to those who agree to love you. This will leave you feeling needy and desperate – and in response, you’ll try to control because this is what people do when they feel powerless.
But controlling others will never give you your power back. It is only through the cultivation of an inner core of unconditional love that you will reclaim your power. And so, we come back to that place of acceptance once more. This is the starting point. You have to draw that little red dot at your feet that says “You Are Here” on the map of life, admit that you missed your window of opportunity to get that unconditional love from the outside, and pull up your big girl pants and take on the task for yourself.