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April 9, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

What It Means to Truly Love Yourself

By Claire Franklin More Blogs by This Author

Loving yourself is an idea that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately - ever since a discussion I had at Easter dinner with my sister. I’ve come to realize this is a multi-faceted concept that is difficult to achieve but, once done, can change a person’s life.

Cutting Ties

Here’s an example: In a lunch conversation I had with two friends, we discussed the pitfalls of being single. One of these is exposure to people like Gary, the ex-boyfriend of one of my friends with which I was speaking. She said that Gary was divorced but continued to support his ex-wife and two children (the ex claims she cannot find work). My friend was forced to watch him give his money away – more than the court-ordered child support – and meekly accept that he wanted to do this. She said it was like watching a person self-destruct.

The differences in his way of living versus that of his family’s disturbed my friend. Gary rents a one-bedroom apartment, while his family enjoys a four-bedroom ranch. He lost his car in a repossession, but his ex drives a brand new leased vehicle. He can barely afford to buy coffee, but he’s happy to pay for his wife’s hair and nail appointments.

“He didn’t bring what I expected to the relationship table,” my friend said. Because her self-esteem is pretty high, she cut ties with Gary and moved on, preferring to be single rather than tolerate an unhappy relationship. Some women might have stayed with Gary to see if the circumstances changed, but my friend did not. I attribute this to the fact that she loves herself enough to know what she wants and needs from a romantic relationship. This is a healthy outlook on the people she chooses to have in her life.

Personal Needs

In this same vein, self-love helps you make tough decisions based on personal needs. My other friend recently filed for divorce from his wife because she didn’t want to have children. They had talked about this before getting married, and she’d said she would get pregnant after they had established their careers and traveled a bit. That was 10 years ago, and my friend finally realized she wasn’t going to bend. He feels that he needs children in order to feel fulfilled, so they separated and are trying to amicably end their marriage.

“We couldn’t continue being together when our paths were veering away from each other so dramatically,” he explained. “She wants to remain free of the constraints of motherhood, while I desperately want children. So I filed for divorce, and hopefully we’ll both get what we want.”
His decision was admittedly a gamble, but he made it after carefully weighing his own needs. Again, this stemmed from the respect he has for himself.

Taking Pride in Your Health

Self-love also lends itself to greater overall well-being. My friend Stacey recently lost 35 pounds in order to improve her health. This came as a result of her doctor, who told her she needed to lose some weight to lower her blood pressure and control her blood sugar. This is a two-pronged situation, in that Stacey cares enough about herself to go to the doctor for regular check-ups in the first place. I can’t tell you how many people I know who don’t do this, and not because of a lack of insurance, but because they simply don’t care.

Secondly, she maturely listened to the doctor’s advice and took it to heart without growing angry. She changed her diet and began exercising. Others might have simply said, “I’m not changing anything; I’m happy the way I am. If my blood pressure rises I can take a pill to help me.” But Stacey respects herself enough to maintain her health. And now that she’s seen how she looks without that excess weight, she’s determined to keep it off.

Self love isn’t egotism; it doesn’t give one the right to belittle others or look down upon them. It's a healthy emotion that allows people to live fully and happily. With that in mind, everyone could do with a little more love.

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