Many of us are plagued with feeling like we are not enough, no matter what we accomplish. It’s easy to become envious of others while feeling you’re falling short; wondering why we don’t deserve success or happiness. Love for ourselves and others can alleviate that deeply rooted worry.

What is Love?

Love paradoxically seems overused, but it’s also stigmatized and not expressed enough. I’m a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but love has been commercialized. Love doesn’t come in a shiny red, heart-shaped box full of chocolates. That is too easy.

On the other hand, there’s hesitancy to express any feelings at all. People fear being seen as desperate or “too into” someone. Unwritten rules about how long one should wait before texting back are intended to achieve the delicate balance of being interested, but not too available. It’s a game that so many are playing, whether intentional or not. This is guarded, safe, and secure. This game lowers the bar for standards. Games ultimately create a winner and a loser – someone always has an upper-hand. This is far from love – scary, deep, sharing yourself with another who is your equal kind of love.

If this is the expectation, it’s hard to know what genuine love actually looks like. Love isn’t found hiding behind emojis and 2 AM text messages. Love is found only after you love yourself enough to raise your standards for what you deserve. Your capacity to love someone else is only as deep as your capacity to love yourself.

Love Yourself

To love yourself means to let go of your desire to fit in. This comes in many forms, one of which is gossip. Gossip is an easy, substance-less, hollow substitute for authentic belonging. We seek validation that at least we’re better off than that person. We tend to judge others in our own areas of insecurity, whether consciously or subconsciously. This gives us an opportunity to work on insecurities, shortcomings, and unique-ness.

We then begin to feel worthy of the love that we’ve previously denied ourselves and see our value so clearly. We’re able to let go of the need to fit in, breaking the chains of what others feel we should be, do, dress, act. When we love ourselves so much that we can extend love, we open ourselves up and share a piece of ourselves with each of those people. We shine light into their lives and we allow them to affect ours. We have to love ourselves enough to let go of any hatred in our hearts, both for our past mistakes and the mistakes of others.

To love ourselves means to open all of the boxes we’ve tied up with nice, neat bows. Unpack the pain of our shame and insecurities we’ve suppressed. It’s the hard things that makes us vulnerable. Only then can we truly love someone else…someone else who has their own pile of emotional boxes hidden away for later unpacking. Love means stepping out of the game, and being brave enough to show yourself openly. There is strength in owning every part of yourself…in doing the scary thing. Never feel shame for doing so – allowing yourself to be vulnerable is one of the bravest things you can do.

Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 if you have any questions about our therapeutic services or would like to schedule an appointment.