As a tarot reader, one of the most prominent topics clients ask about is relationships, especially romantic relationships and prospects. We all want some measure of certainty, some idea of where we are headed in terms of romantic love. It’s not often that we think of our relationship to ourselves as a prerequisite for the quality of the relationships we can have with other people. For many people, when they hear the phrase love yourself it often sounds like a vague, sentimental cloud of pleasant feelings that is easily glossed over because they want someone else to love them.
We think of loving ourselves as a given because we know that there is part of ourselves that drives our survival and we consider that to be love. We think we aren’t self-destructive because we aren’t spinning out of control. Because of this we don’t understand what loving ourselves means. And that’s what I am writing about today. What does it look like to love yourself? Here are a few examples.
1.) Trusting your intuition above all else.
In regards to relationships and love this is number one because it is the number one way I have seen clients behave self-destructively. Even I learned this lesson the hard way. When a person desires a relationship with another so passionately it is easy to overlook the red flags. It is easy to rationalize and make excuses for the other, it is easy to explain away the little voice in your head that says this isn’t right.
And this is how we often end up in relationships and situations, months or years later, that make us absolutely miserable or that can even be dangerous. You must trust your intuition and perceptions. You must commit to not betraying yourself by not letting desire overrule what deep down, you know is best for you. This is an act of self-love.
2.) Not lowering your standards.
“Oh, s/he’s great it’s just that s/he doesn’t follow through on what they say they will do.”
“Doesn’t pay attention to me when I’m talking.”
“Doesn’t consider my feelings before acting.”
“Is selfish in bed.”
The list goes on and on and on. Before even looking to get into a relationship you should know what behaviors are acceptable to you and what you want in a mate. You absolutely deserve the best relationship you can have. Don’t lower your standards just because someone seeems great at first or is incredibly attractive but misses the mark on qualities that are important to you. Reminding yourself that you deserve the kind of love you want and not settling is a form of self-love.
There is a lot of literature out there on boundaries. Number 2 in this list is even about boundaries. But in this scenario I’m talking about our willingness to let ourselves get walked over or to do things we don’t really want to be doing.
It is self-love to say no to anything you are not comfortable with. It is important to have boundaries around your identity, to know that you are only responsible for your own feelings, responses and actions. Often, sympathy and empathy can blur our boundaries. We put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and then feel bad and stuff our true feelings and desires.
That is self-destructive. You might feel bad, but if it’s your truth it’s your truth and stuffing it to avoid conflict or because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or because you want to appear a certain way will breed in you a sense of resentment toward yourself. You pay a steep price for a lack of boundaries.
The obvious here are the ways in which you take care of your body, mind and soul (eating well, exercising, massage, meditating, etc). There is another element, though. What do you enjoy doing, just you? Do you enjoy your own company? Are you comfortable going out to eat alone or to the movies alone? Enjoying your own company is a fabulous indicator of self-love. And it’s critical to all relationships because someone else can’t be there 24/7 to distract you from you and entertain you. Being comfortable alone will make you less likely to settle for some terrible version of what you truly want for yourself.
If you love yourself and are secure in yourself, you will not require outside validation for how awesome you are. This will in turn help you form healthy relationships of all kinds because it allows you to just be with others. You won’t unload on them and you won’t be giving them your power because you won’t need them in order to feel highly esteemed. It is self-love to think well of yourself and to be kind to yourself in your thoughts.
5.) Forgiving Yourself
This is the hardest one in my own experience and in what I have learned from others through counseling them. Our ability to love and forgive ourselves directly correlates to our ability to love and forgive others.
When you fail at something or do something you aren’t proud of, you need to know that it’s ok that you aren’t perfect. You make amends where necessary and then you make amends with yourself. Consider the above examples. Say you fail at trusting your intuition. You must learn to understand what drives you to make choices that go against self-love, and then forgive yourself for it and resolve to act differently. When you do something that you aren’t happy about, beating yourself up changes nothing. It just enables a self-destructive cycle. Be gentle with yourself. We are all learning and no one gets it right 100% of the time.
Feature artwork by Fabio Napoleoni.