Self-love! This topic hits home for me. Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you must know by now that what I share through my writing, stems from my experience. I invite you to read some of my other posts to get a better idea of what I mean. Funnily enough, as I’m writing this post, I’m in Rome; I put all my things in storage and flew off to Italy. Any special reason? Yes, a major appointment with myself. 

Let’s just start by saying that life is so full of challenges and lessons … or like Forrest Gump would say, “Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get!” Indeed, you never know! But, no matter what happens, our response to these events will always and only be ours. Two are two options: you play the victim and blame the world for your wrongs or you pick yourself up and decide to start some introspection and figure out what the root of it all may be within yourself that might have caused it all. 

Obviously certain circumstances, like sexual abuse, depression or any mental illness can provoke sabotaging behaviours, but I will not consider these in my post since I’m no doctor or psychologist and I believe these require help from professionals. I do empathize, however, and can only encourage you to seek the help needed. Been there, done that!

First Sign: Letting Others Decide, Finding Self-love in the Eyes of Others.

The title of this post says it all. It is not easy to truly and deeply love ourselves. Some might even say it is selfish to seek and cultivate self-love. Well, didn’t the Lord say, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mk 12, 31). This simple affirmation claims, without a shadow of a doubt, that true love for others can only stem from a true and profound love of oneself. Actually, no self-love or limited self-love can often portray itself in unpleasant behaviour towards others.

I cannot judge others on this one. I’m so easily influenced! At 41 years old, I’m still learning to say no and to set boundaries. I often will give everything to please others. I will accept determined situations only because my true desire is to make others happy. However, since it is not a “normal” behavioural pattern, rare are those who will follow my lead and I will end up feeling as if it’s a one-way situation. Then, quickly, I will start feeling frustrated and will soon give up and will call out because I can no longer handle the pain it is causing me. 

By hardly talking, by not setting boundaries, by not caring for myself, I always end up being in the wrong when I call out. Why? Well, because it was never clear from the beginning. Those who set boundaries, speak for themselves, complain, etc. will never be blamed… Let’s just say, because you know what to expect. 

Second Sign: You Don’t Protect Your Space

There have been so many situations in my life in which I have given away all I had. Yes, I’m not saying I’m super generous, I’d rather say I’m genuinely naive. I always tell myself I will never do it again … that I’ve learned the hard way … but I keep repeating the same thing over and over again. I’d like to tell you that I’ve now learned the lesson, but let’s let time decide this one. 

So, what do I mean by giving everything? Well, I will quickly destroy the fences and boundaries that protect my personal space in the name of love. I end up giving up on my routine, myself care habits, my hobbies, etc. I take upon myself to like what others like… Again, when I’d want to be alone, or stick to my plans, a little insistence on the part of others makes me give in. 

Third Sign: Giving Up on Your Aspirations

I’ve heard so many elderly people tell me about their regrets, and young people making plans for their retirement. So few are those who live daringly in the present moment, not postponing for tomorrow but believing that now is the right time to be themselves. And there are those who will give up their dreams because they want to please others or conform to the standards of society. Again, been there, done that. 

My plans have always been pushed aside so I could accommodate others and give time to friends or family. I was suffering, longing for my personal projects, but other people’s needs always came first. 

Yet, I was lucky enough to meet people who had two jobs and kids at home and were still able to handle going to the gym and writing a novel. You know why? Because they never gave up on themselves … on their aspirations. 

Fourth Sign: Not Caring for Your Mind, Body and Soul 

How can you give what you don’t have? Not protecting your space, giving up on your aspirations will only lead you to giving up on truly caring for yourself. There are so many me’s out there. People like me who will compromise on their diet, gym time, meditation time, etc., to make space for others. Yet, is that truly loving?

We go back to what I’ve said earlier, it can work for a certain time, but you’ll end up being frustrated because of the end results; mine are simply me getting chubbier. 

We don’t always need others to stop us from doing what’s good and right for ourselves … our lack of self-love will quickly turn into giving up on things we need, and that makes us feel better. It’s almost as if a lack of self-love, always ends up turning into sabotaging our own happiness. To be honest, I’ve given up on the six-pack dream … but I know that every time I step into the gym (and use the machines), I end up feeling much better with myself. 

Fifth Sign: Not Being Able to Spend Time With Yourself.

Oh well… I should have probably started with this one. As I mentioned in my intro, I put everything I have in storage and left for Italy. I’ve lived in Italy for ten years, so it’s not as if I’m in unchartered ground, but I decided not to contact friends and family for now, I needed to be on my own. 

Let me tell you one thing: “It’s fucking hard.” I mean, I lived ten years as a Catholic monk, been in silent retreats since, etc. But being on my own with no clear agenda and no deadline is scary. To be fully transparent, I’ve been through major ups and downs since my arrival … but I’ve realized I couldn’t  spend time with myself. Why? Because I’ve always filled my life with others, with other people’s desires, etc. Now that I’m alone… It’s another ball game. 

But you know what? It’s worth it! Buy yourself flowers, take time to taste the goodness of life, walk and look around … no plans, no time frame … simply you. I’m pretty sure, you’ll quickly find ways to better love yourself and suddenly better love your neighbour.   

I hope you enjoy reading my blog … if you do, please subscribe, share my posts with friends and comment below. Let’s grow as a family of broken people who are trying to grow.