Relationship Coach Sharmen Kimbrough MA at the Marriage Recovery Center discusses what it means to love yourself, move away from internal and external restrictions, and how these negative restrictions can impact all of the relationships outside of you.
What It Really Means to Love Yourself
Have you ever taken a moment to close your eyes and conduct an internal inventory? It’s a brief exercise that invites you to reflect on the state of your internal world. How are you feeling emotionally, mentally, and spiritually? This introspection is a critical first step in understanding and embracing the concept of self-love. In this article, we will delve into what it truly means to love yourself and how this self-love can impact your relationships, codependency, emotional well-being, and personal growth.
The Impact on Relationships
Our internal state has a profound influence on the various relationships in our lives. Whether it’s with a spouse, children, family, friends, or colleagues, how we feel within ourselves radiates outward and shapes these connections. Let’s explore some common ways our internal well-being affects our relationships:
Codependency often emerges when we prioritize saving others from their own behavior. We might find ourselves covering up their mistakes to maintain harmony or making their happiness our responsibility. This can create an unhealthy dynamic where we neglect our own needs and boundaries.
Unhealthy emotions, whether excessively negative, overly positive, or completely suppressed, can lead to precarious situations in our relationships. These emotions can drive our actions and decisions, often causing unintended consequences.
Lack of Communication
When we are unable to express our thoughts and feelings due to fear, a lack of vocabulary, or self-awareness, our relationships suffer. Effective communication is the cornerstone of healthy connections, and silence can breed misunderstandings and frustration.
Seeking External Validation
Relying on others to define our worth, beauty, contribution, and purpose in life can be detrimental. It often results in a constant need for external validation and can lead to self-doubt and insecurity.
The Trap of Self-Protection
When we don’t fully love ourselves, we fall into the trap of self-protection. This self-preservation mode is often driven by the fear that others will discover our true selves, leading to rejection or abandonment. Self-protection can manifest in several ways:
Self-protection can trigger primal responses, such as fighting, freezing, or fleeing. These responses are essentially forms of hiding, as they divert attention away from our authentic selves.
Self-protection sabotages genuine connection because we are shielding our true selves from others. It prevents people from responding to the real us, hindering the development of deep and meaningful relationships.
In the presence of self-protection, everything can feel like fear. The fear of being exposed, the fear of ruining our reputation, and the fear that our authentic selves won’t be accepted can dominate our thoughts and actions.
Embracing Authenticity and Vulnerability
To break free from the cycle of self-protection and truly love ourselves, we must learn to embrace authenticity and vulnerability as strengths rather than weaknesses. This involves:
Knowing Your Purpose
Understanding your purpose in life, your unique path, and your divine calling can provide a solid foundation for self-love. When you know who you are and where you’re headed, you become less susceptible to external pressures and judgments.
Being well isn’t just about changing your relationships; it’s a lifelong journey. It’s about learning to show up in the world authentically and leave your mark as you were meant to. Building resilience allows you to navigate life’s challenges without losing sight of your true self.
Healthy relationships require collaboration, not conformity. Embrace your authentic self, and encourage others to do the same. Find ways to work together, combining your individual strengths to foster genuine connection while honoring each other’s uniqueness.
Self-love is not a destination but an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth. Regularly reflect on your internal world, acknowledge your emotions, and make conscious choices that align with your true self.
To love yourself is not a selfish act; it’s the foundation upon which healthy relationships and personal growth are built. By understanding the impact of your internal world on your connections, breaking free from the trap of self-protection, and embracing authenticity and vulnerability, you can embark on a journey toward self-love.
Remember, it’s a lifelong pursuit, and the destination is a life well-lived, true to your purpose and identity. As you learn to love yourself, you’ll not only enrich your own life but also create deeper, more meaningful connections with others.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more