If you’ve been single and searching for love for a while, I’m pretty sure someone ‘wise’ will have advised you verbally or in an article somewhere that, ‘When you learn how to love yourself, he will come.’
Now I want you to picture me doing some major eye-rolling until I make myself dizzy.
You see, while I know that most of the time this advice is well-intentioned (except when it’s patronisingly delivered by someone who also happens to be in a partnership – yes, occasionally people do this), the truth is this statement about loving yourself and then he’ll come, simply isn’t true.
There are loads and loads of women out there who do not love themselves and yet have managed to create partnerships with wonderful people who love them. Have you noticed that?
I also know lots of women out there who do love themselves; they’ve done a lot of work around self-love for years and years, and yet they’re still single.
Now, am I sounding the death knell for your search for the right man?
Am I saying that learning to love yourself is a thankless and pointless task?
What I am saying is this advice about first you need to love yourself before you get to have a partner who loves you back can be, well, kind of a mean thing to say to someone. It also sets up this idea that your goal or ‘prize’ in learning to love yourself is that you get the love of someone else.
And that’s really beside the point of the whole journey of self-exploration.
Trust me, I’m speaking about this from a position of some expertise and experience. I’ve been mostly single for the past 10 years and I have done HUGE amounts of work around self-love. As someone with heightened self-awareness and intuitive ability, the Universe has pushed me to go deep with this stuff time and time again. And it’s still an ongoing process.
Is it easier to create a stronger, healthier and more viable long-term love partnership with someone if you have strong self-love and everything that goes with that understanding of self? Yes, I really believe that to be true.
However, the right man still needs to be there in front of you, at the same stage as you, for that to even become an option. And maybe he’s not ready yet. Maybe you’ve still got things you have to do. Maybe it’s not time. Maybe you’ve done the work but he’s still around the corner paying some other karmic dues or embedding some other life lesson he needs to learn before he can progress.
These factors are real possibilities. You both need to be in ‘the same step’ in order for you to come together. Maybe he’s just not there yet.
So please stop buying into this theme that suggests it’s your fault that you’re still single because you haven’t done the work yet. After all, that’s what this kind of self-help is doing. Too often it suggests that you just need to work harder.
Well, I think that’s a rort because I know you’re working hard on yourself beautiful woman. You’re getting up every day and you’re doing your best. You’re looking at your ‘stuff’ and you’re beginning the journey of self-accountability and facing your life lessons because you know you have to in order for your soul to progress. And you do want to progress. I know that. But for someone to dangle this carrot of ‘self-love’ as being the answer for you to attract the ‘one’ is illusory and somewhat misleading.
We all need to learn how to love ourselves first; that much I believe to be true.
We all also desire the love of another, a partner to travel life’s journey with. I believe that to be true as well.
But I don’t necessarily believe that you must do the former in order to successfully attract the latter. Although it may be a helpful contributing factor, it is not the comprehensive answer.
So keep doing your best you fabulous, complex woman. Keep striving and learning. Know that whether you are with someone or alone, you still need to walk your path and nourish your self-love daily. But please don’t buy into the self-help rort that it’s your fault that you’re single because there’s nothing wrong with you.
It’s just not the right time yet.
Lucretia Ackfield is a writer and transformational teacher who has learnt the lessons of love and romance the hard way. You can read her voyeuristic, hilarious and sometimes mortifying stories of the single life in her memoir The Men I’ve Almost Dated. Or, if you’d like to work on developing your self-awareness and intuition, you can join her Facebook group Rock Your Inner Channel.
Have you ever felt like you spend more time worrying about what other people think, say and do than what’s in your own heart? You might have brief glimpses of inspiration about what’s in you but it’s rapidly taken over by your fears of what other people might think. Then you duck back into your mainstream, accepted box, and keep doing what you were doing before. The only evidence of anything awry will be the smallest of ripples in your psyche, but they’re soon squashed and you’re right back where you started.
Some of us spend a lot of time worrying about what other people will think of our actions. And I don’t use the word ‘spend’ accidentally because, when you do this repeatedly, you are spending your energy and it’s not coming back to you. It’s not serving you in any way. It’s like you’ve gone to the deli counter, handed over your money and received nothing in return. So you wait and wait until eventually they turn out the lights and you’re left…alone.
This keeps you smaller than you are.
How often have you heard yourself say, ‘Oh, I’m happy to work in the background’ while a voice whispers deep inside you, ‘Maybe I could be good at the front but people might laugh at me.’
Or have you said, ‘Oh thanks, but I’m not really good at X’ when someone gives you a compliment – even when you long to claim your skills as being unique to you (which they are, by the way).
A few years ago, I was talking to a client about a professional activity they needed assistance with. ‘Oh, I can do that for you,’ I said. ‘I’m really good at that stuff.’
They looked at me a little askance and said, ‘You really shouldn’t say that, you know. People might think you’re a bit… [‘up yourself]’
So there I was, being open about one of my proven skill strengths and was being told to basically tone it down because of what other people might think.
Well, I’m here to tell you…life’s too short for that crap.
I don’t spend my time going around telling people how fabulous I am. But, if I know I have a strength in a particular area, why should I hide that or tone it down for the consumption of others?
Yet, we’ve all done it. And some of us do it more than others.
My proposition is, what would happen if you started to claim those things you are good at? What if you began taking ownership of your unique gifts and stopped being afraid to use them?
What would your life look like then?
I’m not saying people won’t judge you or try to pull you down. Some people probably will.
But you know, it’s not about what other people think. You are unique and you’re not here on this planet, living this human experience, to make yourself small.
You don’t have to overpower everyone in sight but you can definitely start claiming your place where you truly want to be. If you want to try for that job that will make you happy but doesn’t conform to the expectations of others – go for it!
The next time someone asks for help with a task you’ve been longing to try but have been too afraid to put your hand up for, put your hand up and say, ‘I’d love to give that a crack!’
Stop hiding your light. You’re amazing and you have amazing things to offer. So start. And eventually you’ll find you won’t be spending your energy in the wrong place anymore. You won’t be standing at the deli counter empty-handed either. Instead you’ll be at the local markets buying fresh produce that feeds your soul.
Your energy will be directed towards making yourself feel good and living your light, rather than worrying about what other people think.
And that will be the most amazing gift of all – for you.
Last night I was watching the film Jerry McGuire when one of the characters said, in essence, ‘If your heart is empty, what’s in your head doesn’t matter.’
The words struck me as a significant truth. If your heart is not filled, if it is empty, it doesn’t matter what your brain tells you.
So often you can walk around, reasoning things through with your mind yet always feeling like something is missing. On the surface your life might look pretty amazing to the average passersby but underneath things are not so amazing because your heart is not being filled.
So how can you fill your heart?
Filling your heart involves realising first of all that you’re entitled to follow and look after your heart in the first place. Many of us forget this because we think we need to live to make others happy. But that is an exercise in futility because, if you’re not happy inside, you will never make the people close to you happy either.
So first of all permit yourself to follow your heart and do what is right for you.
Secondly, know that following your heart may displease others because they will want you to do what makes them happy, not what makes you happy. But still I encourage you to proceed along your path, not the one dictated by others.
Thirdly, in following your heart you can begin to fill it by gifting yourself the time to do what makes you feel good and brings you peace. It may be a few precious moments spent meditating once a week or perhaps you want to scribble a few lines of poetry in a notebook in those minutes before the kids come home. Whatever it is that lifts your spirits and fills your heart, gift yourself that thing because you deserve it.
So much time is spent in our lives reasoning things through but, in the end, I truly believe, if your heart is empty then what’s in your head simply does not matter. And a lifetime spent ignoring the needs of your heart will result in a lifetime where you will never really have peace.
I’m going to put my hand up this morning and say I can pretty good at playing the victim.
I can be hurt by someone then recoil into a ‘poor me’ vortex that can go on for days, months or yes (I’m very ashamed to admit) years. Instead of stepping back and looking at what has really gone on, I play the victim. I am the one who has been hurt. I am the one that something awful has been done to.
The truth is yes, sometimes I am technically the ‘victim’. I have been going about my business like any other day when WHAM! I’m hit with someone else’s toxic fall out. And it’s normal that I should feel hurt, angry and upset in that situation. After all, I haven’t done anything to deserve it. I was just minding my own business, doing my best. Right?
But with the benefit of hindsight (which is always valuable but can take a long time to kick in), I am getting a little better at seeing those incidents more objectively.
The truth is yes, some people may have got of the bed that morning and thought, ‘Today my goal is to completely destroy Lucy’s self-esteem and faith in the goodness of love and humankind.’
That might be true. Or maybe not.
Perhaps I did something consciously or unconsciously to piss them off and they simply responded to that behaviour.
That could be true.
Or perhaps they deliberately caused me pain because their own pain was so great, they didn’t know what else to do. They didn’t know how to let their pain out in a healthy way so they scatter-gunned it all over me because I just happened to be there – wrong place for me, right time for them.
When I think about it, I’m sure I’ve been just as guilty of this behaviour because like everyone else walking around on the planet, I am human not perfect.
However, when this situation arises we often direct our pain at those who are closest to us. And the last people we ever want to hurt receive the sometimes crushing emotional blows we dish out.
The fall-out can be devastating. Relationships end over this kind of stuff. Families stop talking to each other, friends walk away, and wars on small and global scales begin because of this situation.
It’s also when we start playing the victim. We can let that story, that situation full of pain, become our only story in life. It can become a turning point that we revisit again and again, shaping and molding the restrictions we put on our emotional development. We might say, ‘Well this person did this, so I’m not going to trust people again.’
‘That person hurt me so badly that I can never forgive them.’
We might take it further and think, ‘That person said X and Y and maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m not worth more.’
And so our story goes on and we sit in that swirling pain, wallow in it, justifying why what has happened to us is awful and how we deserved better.
You know what, sometimes I have definitely deserved better. I haven’t asked someone to tear my soul to ribbons. I’ve been doing my best and the pain thrown my way by a stranger or someone I care about has been devastating. Sometimes it’s even undone me for a while.
But in my finer moments, when I can remove my poor, bruised and battered heart and ego out of the way, I realise I can play the victim and let those moments define me, or I can go another way.
I can choose to grow from them. I can look at the situation and ask myself, what role did I play in creating that? How did my response affect the outcome? What was really going on for that person in that moment? How much pain were they in and was I just collateral damage?
Once I start to consider these things I can, eventually, make some peace with the situation and let it go a little. I can stop playing the victim and instead empower myself to move forward and grow.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I think it takes a lot to release emotional pain fully and perhaps I will carry fragments of those moments with me forever. But I don’t want to play the victim forever. I want to transform that pain into something that takes me forward. I have a choice in the matter.
More importantly, I want to come to a place more easily of forgiving those who may cause the pain. And it’s amazing how empowering that feeling of forgiveness can be. You can look at that person and think, ‘You know what. Your behaviour was crap and the pain you caused was awful. And I still feel angry and upset sometimes. But I understand where you were at when it happened and I know most of it had nothing whatsoever to do with me. So I forgive you and myself (because I’m sure I did/said stuff that wasn’t great either) and I send you love anyway.’
And surely that is the most empowering thing of all. It’s certainly much better than playing the victim.
When I look around me it often seems like love, or the lack of it, strongly motivates every single thing we do on this planet.
Love is at the core of everything and love of self in particular leads us to create lives full of opportunities and positive relationships, follow creative endeavours, and actively seek ways to make this world a better place.
A lack of self-love takes us down the road to self-destruction where we seek toxic relationships, disrespect our bodies, turn away from others and become people we don’t in our hearts to wish to be.
Love of self brings us closer to divine joy but its lack pushes us further away.
We seek others to fill the holes within ourselves. We think, ‘If I’m just with that person I will feel better.’ But it doesn’t work because you must love yourself first before you can ever truly love another.
When you lack self-love you will seek unhealthy relationships with people who don’t lift you up and do not help you to see the spectacular uniqueness of you. And in those situations you (and others who care about you) will blame that person for dragging you down. But the other person is only reflecting how you feel about yourself.
Other times you might find someone who sees your capacity for great love. They will want you to be all you can be in this life. But too often you will run from them because you do not believe you deserve that kind of love. After all, you do not love yourself so how could they love you.
Lack of self-love destroys what we want most in the world.
Loving yourself means trusting your inner guidance. But so many of us haven’t been taught how to do that and we distrust ourselves completely. But loving yourself is the first step towards understanding who you truly are at your core and from there your inner knowing grows exponentially.
Knowing yourself can be challenging because your inner guidance will tell you to do what you believe is right for you and this self-love will encourage you to seek paths that are not always in alignment with what other people want. It may ask you to live your life the way you choose and not as your family, friends or culture may dictate. It will challenge you to break down every false barrier you ever put in place and urge you on when others tell you to give up.
Self-love and the inner knowing that comes with it, will lead you to reach for opportunities and force you far your comfort zone where you are restricted by what has been rather than what is possible. It will nourish you and help you to keep going when you feel like you’ve lost your way.
Self-love will lead you to trust yourself and your own judgement. It will ultimately lead you to the strongest and most reliable love of your life, the love you have for yourself.