The Secret to Loving Yourself Again*
How do I start loving myself again after a breakup? I feel like I was relying on him, relying on him to prove to myself that I was lovable. It seems like I lost a huge part of myself now.
Much love, Ashley
Learning to love oneself is a lifelong journey. Sometimes we question whether we are worthy of love. Sometimes we think less of ourselves because of our shortcomings or mistakes. Because of this, maybe we have relied on outside feedback or the love of others to prove us wrong. However, to truly find peace within ourselves, we must go deeper.
When we have strayed away from love, the first way back is usually through forgiveness. Love is the understanding that we are all people and we are all subject to mistakes. Making mistakes does not mean we are not worthy.
If a friend of ours made a mistake, would we think less of them? Probably, not. We would forgive them. We would remind them that one mistake, or a few, does not define them. We would see past their shortcomings. We would help them make something new from the ashes of their life. When talking to ourselves, we must do the same. We must treat ourselves the way we would a friend. Friendship is the foundation for every relationship, including the one we have with ourselves.
To be a real friend, we must also foster acceptance. We do not change our friends; instead, we try to embolden the people they already are. We see past their failures and we are witness to the beauty already within them. We try to encourage the best parts of them, even when they cannot see these parts themselves.
When we are young, we often want to ‘fix’ ourselves. Maybe we wanted to be taller, smarter or better looking. Maybe we still want these things. However, as we mature, we must accept the cards we have been dealt. We must be comfortable with the fact that some things will forever be. This is our only ‘real’ choice as we mature. Our only ‘real’ choice is to embrace the unchangeable and to live our lives wholeheartedly, despite it all. It is to walk into the crowd with our heads held high, whether they laugh or cheer.
Often, acceptance looks like a surrender. It requires that we submit to the people we are inside. We must give them the shirts on our backs and the shoes on our feet to better equip them for the journey they are about to embark on. We must give them our permission and blessing as they grow into the people they are destined to become. Through relinquishing control, our eyes can finally open; we can witness first-hand all of the beauty life has to offer, both inside and outside of us.
A person truly at peace with themselves does not necessarily think about themselves. Most of the time, a person at peace is focused on things other than themselves. They are noticing the birds chirping outside and how this sound reminds them of hope. They are noticing the way the sun sets and how the rain falls; they are noticing how both are equally beautiful. This is what happens when love is able to flourish; we are able to pay attention to all of the wonder and magic around us, instead of being fixated on who we are and who we are not.
All in all, loving oneself is a muscle that needs to be trained. It is something we will need to work on until our final days. The best way to practice self-love is to cultivate a friendship with oneself. This means we must forgive ourselves because no friendship can survive without it. We must also understand that our shortcomings do not define us and that we will make and do marvelous things, despite the constraints we have been dealt.
Finally, we must relinquish the identities we have been struggling to maintain so we can create a self that is larger and more generous than before. We must create a self who can forget themselves in the moment. A self who can open their hearts and eyes as they experience all the love and wonder this world has to offer. This is how all love is made; it is made by walking up the mountain we call life yet again, but this time, with our heads and hands held high for all the world to see.
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