Why Self-Love Has To Be At The Heart Of A Solid Relationship

It is often said that you can't love somebody else unless you love yourself first. This translates to fully accepting yourself before you can nurture a healthy relationship. While some may disagree with that notion, it often requires acknowledging that you are the only person who can truly be in control of your own emotions.

Psychologists Hilary Stokes and Kim Ward — who together specialize in mind, body, and spirit psychology — speak about the subject in an article published on their website, Authenticity Associates Coaching & Counseling. According to them, the connection you have with yourself is what determines the "health and happiness of your relationships." They explain, "If you don't love yourself, trust yourself, or have confidence in yourself, then you are going to look to others to foster this. This convolutes your ability to see others clearly and authentically."

They also highlight how a lack of self-love can promote low self-esteem as you look to someone else to fulfill an expectation that only you are uniquely placed to address. Ultimately, you cannot depend on an outsider to evoke feelings of self-confidence or self-love in you. It has to come from within to foster healthy communication in all your relationships.

The importance of self-love

The concept of self-love has gotten something of a bad rep. Some people feel guilty about it because they think of self-love as being equivalent to selfishness. Those who practice self-love are sometimes seen as egoistic, self-absorbed individuals who always choose themselves before others. Yet that is a very limited understanding of self-love.

In its purest form and when done correctly, self-love can be liberating and exhilarating, as it enables you to enjoy life to the fullest. Only those who truly love themselves and learn to appreciate and celebrate themselves without guilt are capable of loving, appreciating, and celebrating their partners in equal measure. This is true for all relationships, whether romantic, social, or familial. You will certainly find it easier to love others in any capacity when you love yourself.

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation calls self-love "a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth." In essence, this means taking care of your own needs without compromising on them for the sake of others. This also means you should never settle for less than you deserve. Every individual is unique, so ways of loving oneself can also be unique and wide-ranging. It is important for you to figure out what self-love means for you.

How to embark on your journey of self-love

Having established that the secret to a successful relationship is to love yourself, here is our best advice for starting your journey of self-love. In this context, Medical News Today advocates "self-compassion," a concept propounded by Professors Neff and Germer of Harvard Medical School. According to them, one can train themselves in self-compassion by following their tried and tested method.

Neff and Germer explain, "Self-compassion says, 'Be kind to yourself in the midst of suffering, and it will change.' Mindfulness says, 'Open to suffering with spacious awareness, and it will change.'" By combining the principles of self-love and mindfulness, they advocate positive practices, including meditation, mindful breathing, and writing open letters to yourself, among other things. The professors found that participants who practiced these "informal practices" for 40 minutes a day saw a significant improvement in self-compassion after eight weeks.

If this kind of time commitment or exercise doesn't appeal to you, try simpler things like having an open conversation with yourself about your needs. You can begin prioritizing yourself and strive to stop judging yourself constantly. Trust yourself, set healthy boundaries in all kinds of relationships, and forgive yourself for making mistakes. Further, practice mindful living. Eating healthy and living healthy may be helpful in your journey to self-love.