“To love without knowing how to love wounds the people we love.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
The words “love yourself first” can be taken in many different directions. One can take it as being selfish, always looking out for yourself at the expense of others.
Or, it can be taken as self-obsession. You only love yourself, others don’t mean anything to you.
But, we’re talking about love here. Love is not anything negative. It’s not something that takes away from others but gives wholeheartedly.
Love is about understanding, care, trust, respect, and best intentions.
In fact, if you love yourself, you can love others in the healthiest way. So, keeping that in mind, here are 3 reasons why you should love yourself first:
3 reasons why you should love yourself first
1. You won’t project your issues on others
When we have low self-esteem, we unintentionally make others suffer with ourselves.
For example, if we make a mistake and someone that we love points it out to us, we’re going to be so miserable about it that we’ll not focus on attending to the other person but get consumed in persecutory guilt (read more about forgiving yourself here).
We might try and make amends but it’ll be in very low spirits because all the time the thought of not being enough or adequate will trouble us.
Whatever we hold on from our past or things that we haven’t worked upon within ourselves will in some shape or form impact the people closest to us.
Those who don’t love themselves sometimes don’t let other people love them too. We think we don’t deserve it or that they don’t really mean it and are pitying us. Or, because they love us, they are forcibly staying with us.
But, it’s their choice. They’re choosing to be around. They’re choosing to love. And, not letting them really be around because we think we’re not good enough for them ends up doing exactly what we don’t want to inflict onto them.
So, by loving ourselves first, we’ll be able to provide the care that we want to others as well as ourselves. It’s a win-win!
2. It makes you independent
Another similar yet opposite result can be that we’re dependent on other people to fill the space that is ours to pour into.
We feel that something’s missing and we’ll start wanting others to make us feel that it’s not. We would want them to be close to us, listen to us whenever we want them to, and make us feel less hollow.
People also have a hard time or don’t enjoy being with themselves. Naturally, if you’re not fond of someone, you wouldn’t volunteer to spend time with them.
Someone who loves themselves indulges in the activities that they enjoy doing. It’s not uncomfortable to be alone.
If you feel that you don’t love yourself and need to get in touch with yourself, I would recommend you try it :)
3. You’ll make better decisions
There’s this article that my best friend shared with me last year about Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on love.
It mentions that at the heart of Nhat Hanh’s teachings is the idea that “understanding is love’s other name.” It made a place in my heart.
So, if we love ourselves, we understand ourselves (which is why self-reflection is a part of my course) and therefore, can make decisions that we know are in line with what matters to us, and will take us toward what we want to make of our lives.
It also helps us choose what is right for us in the most minute of moments. It’s about knowing to set boundaries that will help out in the long run, not exerting ourselves, stopping people-pleasing, forgiving, learning and moving on, asking for support, and all seemingly simple things that collectively shape a beautiful life.
Let me quote Thich Nhat Hanh again:
“If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink.
The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform.
When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer.
We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change.
But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others.
We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.”
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Love yourself first and so, love others truly and wholeheartedly. You deserve it and so do the people who love you. It’s time to prioritize your well-being and give yourself what you need.
I wish you the best!
👉 Continue reading: 3 Simple Tips to Beat All or Nothing Thinking