I have a female friend who has been in an on-again, off-again relationship for nearly 18 months. Her partner has wooed her with words, looks and actions that attest to her beauty, both inner and outer. He has managed to find out what makes her swoon and he has played it for all he can get. He doesn’t beat her, he doesn’t turn up at her door drunk, he doesn’t sleep around and he’s not a drug addict. But he has managed to tap into her main area of personal lack in order to keep bouncing back into her life – her lack of self-love. The really bizarre thing is that she knows it’s happening and allows it to continue. One of the many unloving things he does has been to not turn up at a pre-arranged time again and again. He always asks for forgiveness and because she is a genuinely good person conditioned to respond to forgiveness in a way that helps the other person and not herself, she lets the relationship continue as it is. Nothing changes because she has no personal boundaries and her self love is based on this man being in her life because he says the things that make her feel good about herself.
There is a saying, “If anyone can rob you of your peace of mind, you depend on that person too much for your happiness”. How many of us has that happened to? It’s hardly any wonder that we fall into that trap when all around us society conditions us to think in terms of having a ‘significant other’ as the ultimate in life. Songs, movies, books and magazines all proclaim that to be part of a couple is the height of acceptance both by our peers and society in general. How many words are dedicated to this subject? How many people are trained and make careers out of getting people into relationships, maintaining those relationships and fixing them when they go wrong? How many of us have felt bereft when we are on our own, longing for someone to “make us feel special” and make life so much happier?
Now I don’t deny that being with someone we love, have compatibility and harmony with isn’t an undeniably wonderful thing, but when it is the only foundation for who we are and we would be nothing without it, then we are in trouble. We are definitely affected by the hurtful actions/words of our loved ones, but to what degree is our peace diminished? It is quite a challenge to retain our own sense of self-love and self worth being in an intimate relationship but it is not impossible. Indeed, if our self-love is strong and healthy the relationship will run smoother as we are not relying on the other to continually prop us up. Too many of us define who we are on the ‘nice’ feelings we get from pleasing the significant others in our lives.
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What he was saying is that we need to consciously look at how we live our lives and make intelligent and loving decisions about how we want to be treated. We need to think about what our boundaries are and make a loving commitment to ourselves to enforce those boundaries.
How many of us feel that life is controlling us, that we are flotsam on the river of life being thrown around at the mere whim of other people and situations? Developing our own self love and being completely at home with ourselves and who we are will ensure that healthy relationships with others will develop. Healthy self-love will give us a greater sense of control in our own lives.
The only place we find and develop lasting and unshakable self-love is in our relationship within ourselves. There is no person, place or thing that in this world of transience that can give us the inner peace and certainty that we so crave.
As for my friend mentioned in the first paragraph, she has now come to the point where the love she felt for this man has become anger, loathing and even hate at times. Those emotions are also directed at herself as she realises how much she has compromised her life to keep him in it. She says she won’t be seeing him again, but has she learnt the lesson? Time will tell…
Hi, I'm Anna Bradbury and I'm an experienced Life Coach and member of ICF (International Coach Federation). I love helping people and couples realise their goals and dreams. With your hard work and focus, my guidance, and proven Life Coaching techniques, you can achieve all you desire.