The Love That Will Save the World

Tree of love

This is where all meaningful love begins.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! YAY!

Okay, enough with the fake enthusiasm. Some people believe that Valentine’s Day is the best day on the calendar for celebrating love. I respectfully disagree with them.

It’s supposed to be a day of celebrating love, but it has morphed into a bizarre competitive sport where people are focused on comparing the size of their flower bouquets to their coworkers’ flower bouquets to see who is “loved the most” (but that’s a topic for a different day.)

And more importantly, shouldn’t we be celebrating love every day?

That’s what I want to talk about: Celebrating love. Every. Single. Day.

But I’m not talking about romantic love, the love you have for your friends, or even the love that you have for your kids.

I want to talk about the love that has the power to save the world:

Self-love.

The Most Important Love of All

What jumps into your mind when you think about true love?

For me, when you truly love someone, that means that you treat that person with the highest respect, always. You are constantly focused on your loved one’s best interests. You will do everything that you can to keep your loved safe. You will do anything within your power to ensure that your loved one is happy and living his/her best life.

That’s what true love is all about, isn’t it?

So, here’s an obvious question that needs to be asked:

What is stopping us from loving ourselves in the same way?

(Still here? Okay, good.)

For some reason, people hate talking about this topic, but I cannot think of one action that would have a more positive, life-altering impact on our lives (and the world) than loving ourselves, consistently.

(Side note: This isn’t about narcissism. This is about healthy self-love and acceptance.)

I’ve talked a lot about self-love here at The Positivity Solution, because I believe that is where all true, healthy love for others originates. I’ll leave it to one of my all-time favorite quotes to say it better than I ever could:

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” -Nathaniel Branden

Yes, the more that we’re able to love ourselves, the more that we’ll be able to truly be kind and loving to others. After all, we cannot give what we don’t have.

I’m about to take it one step further.

The Truth About Self-Love

Please read this next sentence closely, because it may be the most important thing that I have ever written on this blog:

The overall quality of your life is dependent on your willingness (or unwillingness) to love and fully accept yourself.

This is not an overstatement. Everything that’s meaningful in our lives, depends on our ability to love and accept ourselves:

  • The decision to love ourselves affects the quality of our romantic relationships.
  • It affects our professional lives and careers.
  • It affects our ability to be the best possible parent to our kids.
  • It affects our health, well-being, self-worth and overall happiness.
  • It affects our capacity to be kind, loving and generous to others.

Most of all, it affects our future.

Even though that’s true, many good-hearted people still direct a vicious kind of cruelty to themselves that they would never dream of directing toward another person.

Don’t believe me?

Here are some very real examples of things that I’ve heard from readers and friends since launching The Positivity Solution:

“I refuse to have my picture taken or a have a picture of me seen anywhere (at home, on Facebook, anywhere). Being forced to look at myself completely disgusts me, so I can only imagine how other people must feel when they see how disgusting I am.”

“Here I am in another relationship where I’m being emotionally abused…again. What is wrong with me? I guess that I should learn to accept being treated like crap, because that’s all the love that I’ll ever get. I am completely unlovable.”

“Of course no one wants to support my dream of being a musician. I’ve failed at everything else that I’ve ever tried and I don’t know why I fooled myself into thinking that this would be any different. Failure is in my DNA.”

“I am an absolutely terrible parent. I am ruining my kids’ lives because they are stuck with such a broken woman as their mom. There is no doubt in my mind that they would be better off without me.”

I could go on, but you get the point. There is no way that we can find the power to live a truly positive life with thoughts like those parading through our heads on a consistent basis.

If you can relate to this kind of self-cruelty (or worse), let me ask you this:

If you had a friend who spoke to you in the way that you speak to yourself, would you keep being his/her friend?

There’s only one answer to that question that makes any sense.

What it All Means

Even though Valentine’s Day is coming up tomorrow, let’s use today to think about love a little differently.

If we made the decision to consistently give the same amount of love to ourselves that we’re willing to give to others, what would that mean for our lives?

I know.

  • It would mean that even though we still may find ourselves in a toxic relationship every now and then, we would love ourselves too much to ever stay in it, or return to it after we found the strength to leave.
  • It would mean that when we don’t feel like doings the things that will improve our lives (e.g., going to the gym, writing that business plan, publishing that new blog, or filling out that college application) we’ll do it anyway because we love ourselves too much to accept a below-average life riddled with lame excuses and unrealized potential.
  • It would mean that we will love ourselves enough to overcome our people-pleasing addiction by finding the guts to simply say, “No” to others when it doesn’t serve us to say “Yes” to them.
  • It would mean that we would be the best employee, parent, lover, sibling, neighbor and friend possible, because we love ourselves too much to settle for being less than our best for ourselves, for our loved ones and for the rest of the world too.
  • It would mean that we would choose to live consciously, courageously and positively, because we love ourselves too much to sleepwalk through our lives and hope that “someone else” has the power to fix our problems.

This is why self-love is so important, because it is impossible to be our best selves without it.

Equally as important, we have no shot of making this world a more positive place if we consistently show up to life with anything less than our best selves.

Valentine’s Day is on the way, but for the rest of the year (and ideally, beyond) I’m urging us to authentically love and accept ourselves in addition to celebrating our love for others in our lives.

It starts by being happy with who you are now, and if you can’t do that, be happy that you’re taking steps right now to make positive changes in your life.

This is where the journey to positively change the world must begin.

Your Turn

Do you fully love and accept yourself? Or, are you quick to beat yourself up and treat yourself harshly?  Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. I read this and pondered how broken of a man I am. The pain i have endured over the past 5 years of my life makes it very hard to be in love with myself, caring and dear friends who loves me, take positive action to give love without conditions. I am the negative person in this blog. I don’t really have a solution but all the things I do is always trying to find a way to cover up this big whole in my gut. I have so much I could give but my phoney boloney keeps me out of the game of love…true love. Thank you for the post. I need some type of guideline to help me with this issue.

    • One of my favourite topics. Self-love is not selfish love. It is not ” I am better than then the others” love either. It is simply the declaration of my right to be here and do my unique thing. Right to be me without anyone’s approval. I agree that self-love preceeds our capacity to spread love to others. For some of us loving ourselves is very challenging due to internalized negative beliefs we have formed over time about ourselves. I believe it takes lots of practice to challenge those beliefs and start believing that we are lovable, worthy and precious, but it is totally possible, It is ike retraining the brain and undoing all the lies and wrong cognitive distortions.

    • Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff really helped me to see myself in a completely different way, in a way where I was strong enough to love myself “warts and all”. I had dealt with a teenage daughter who had become dangerous to herself and me for so many years that there was only a shell of a person left for me to love but I was eventually able to get there. Please consider checking it out, Michael.

  2. Somewhere along the line, people got it in their heads that loving themselves was wrong and selfish. I’m not sure why that happened, but it definitely needs to change.

    And, I will take it one step further, Shola… it is because we love ourselves that we need to show ourselves the same kindness that we show the rest of the world.

    When we find ourselves saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m so stupid!” or “What a loser I am for that!!” we need to ask ourselves one thing…. Would we ever say those things to the people we love most? Hopefully, the answer is no. We are kind to those we love most (unless we are stressed…but I digress lol). We need to be as kind to ourselves.

    Such good information, Shola. Thank you!

    Kathy

  3. THANK YOU!! Thank you for this reminder and for sharing your light.

  4. Bravo Shola. Yet another brilliant post. If I were asked to add one thing to your list, it would be this. I would add that no matter the mistake I make, I will forgive myself, apologize and commit to never doing it again. Even most criminals get out of prison eventually. We need to be willing to let ourselves out of our personal prisons and be free. That doesn’t mean that we don’t feel some regret for our mistakes, but that we are simply willing to forgive ourselves and move forward.

  5. Thank you Shola, the self-love thing can be so complicated and out of reach. For a long time, actually always, I have (I thought) loved myself, but thought that, until the whole world gave me the thumbs up, I could not be happy to be me. Self -love finally happened for real when I accepted and embraced the essence of ME Yes, I try to be sensitive and considerate in my impact on others, and still be ME regardless of whether others encourage or discourage. Well Shola this cuts close to the bone for so many of us. Thank you for your reaffirmation that we must stick with this.

  6. Challenge to all. February 12 is the start of random acts of kindness week. Ready, set, go!

  7. Cathy Cangelosi-Cameron says:

    Shola, thank you! Very well said! Love and Respect – Love your God, Yourself, Your Family. Love dwells within you and as you. Spread a little love everywhere you go. That one smile you offer to a stranger may make all the difference in his or her life that day. When you can truly love yourself, you can truly love others – through your thoughts, your words, your behavior, your habits. This pure and honest love becomes the part of you that others remember.

  8. Definitely need to care about and take good care of yourself in order to be strong for and care for others!
    Wonder why it is sometimes so hard to do!?!

  9. Love this post and I can’t wait to celebrate my new journey of self love. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one who struggles with this and that there is a way out of this toxic relationship I’ve created with myself. Love you!

  10. Great article Shola. It’s a wonderful reminder when the world is a busy place, and I don’t feel in tune with it, to have more silent moments with myself.

    I know one thing for sure, be kind to yourself and be your own best friend. Even just taking small steps of kindness with yourself and being patient with the results can change a lot. A sense of humor is always essential too. As time goes by I realize, life is too short, and I can be supportive to myself as I would be to a friend in need.

    It can be difficult to keep positive thoughts and self love in mind when the world is always throwing things back, there’s so much stimuli especially with social media, people demanding time and telling us how we should think, how we should be, what we should buy and what’s acceptable and what’s not. I think the self love fits in when we can stand in the middle of it and be unfazed and balanced from within. The road to know thyself can help one become more caring and kind to the self and others. For me, when I had periods of darkness these were stepping stones to understand myself better and to become more real and acceptable of myself.

    When I give myself periods of silence I find that there is something very calming about it. It allows me to take time for me, even if I’m not doing anything at the moment.

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