Do we need to LOVE ourselves before someone can LOVE US?

self love

Or is this just an empty SELF-HELP CLICHÉ?

In this video we explore the questions of do we need to love ourselves before someone can love us or is this just an empty self-help cliché? In it we look at how often this “rule “doesn’t match the reality of many peoples common experience. I share my own personal story of how I was at a very “un-self-loving” place in my life but I still attracted a loving relationship and how we should unburden ourselves from these platitude and open up the mysterious and complexity of human relationship.


The topic of today’s video is 

“Do we need to love ourselves before we can let someone love us?” 

Is this true or is this just an empty self-help platitude? 

Now I’d like to share with you in this video a little bit my own personal story and just what I think about this topic of the necessity of self-love to meet attract a loving relationship into our life. The thing of “you need to love yourself before you can meet someone” it’s a pretty common thing you hear out there. It’s up on Instagram, it’s on Facebook, people are going to put it out there like it is gospel. Like it is just the truth, you know, that if you don’t love yourself enough, that’s probably the reason you’re not attracting love into your life. As it’s spoken in a way that it’s just assumed that it’s true so I’d like to examine, well, is it true? Does it match the reality of our experience, the people we know life and all its complexities.

My short answer is no. I don’t think it does. Now all I can tell you is my own story. My own experience of other people I know and just my overall perspective on life, relationships, and its mysterious complexity.

 Now, first of all, I can tell you I’ve been with my wife Susana for 15 years, more or less. I met her in a pretty self-destructive part of my life. I met her at a point in my life where I would say I had very low self-love, I had a lot of self-loathing, I had a lot of conflict and tension, a lot of issues with addiction ect..and I was definitely at a low point in my life. I wasn’t high on self-love, I wasn’t elevated with self-care and self-compassion, quite the opposite. Yet here I was “attracting” or brought my life, someone very loving, someone very caring who wanted to love me, and I didn’t have a lot of love for myself. So how’s that possible that I was at such a self-destructive and self-loathing point in my life and I attracted a loving person into my life?

Now I questioned it. I originally thought “What’s your problem?” Like you must have some weird dysfunctionality that’s subconsciously attracted to my dysfunctionality. There’s no way you can just love me and like me without being dysfunctional yourself. I believe that, but over 15 years I’ve discovered that’s just not true. That it isn’t necessarily the case, that my dysfunctionality must attract someone equally as dysfunctional. If I’m broken and wounded, I will attract a broken and wounded person, that’s just the law. What I discover on a personal level, that’s just not true. It’s not to say my wife doesn’t have her issues or she doesn’t have her dysfunctionalities and various things that she’s got to deal with. That’s not the case but in terms of that principle that my dysfunction “must” attract some equal dysfunction, just hasn’t turned out to be true. So what I’ve experienced is you can be at quite a self-loathing point in your life and attract loving to your life. Yet just doesn’t match that cliche that “Until you love yourself” to some kind of level of sufficiency, you will not attract a loving relationship.

I’ve also seen friends, people I know, who are at very difficult periods of their life and suffer from childhood trauma, depression, addiction, anxiety and they end up in loving relationships. So those people I know, how does that match with that that that maxim that  “You have to love yourself before you can meet someone else?”. I’ve also known people that seem very self-loving and appear on a certain level to have a lot of their stuff together, care for themselves, have good self-esteem, and have trouble attracting someone. So how does that match up?

 So this is the issue, is that in my experience when you look at that rule it just doesn’t match the complexity of life that why people come into life. How we attract people, what ends up going on can’t be reduced to a vacuous formula, that you have to “do this before you can do that”. Now if you’re at a point in your life where you are single and you’re looking for a loving relationship, will develop self-love and self-care in the face of self-loathing help you? Absolutely! Of course, it will, how can it not, but that’s going to help you in everything, in everywhere, in every aspect of your life. It’s going to help you when you meet someone, it’s going to help you when that person you meet goes away or whatever it is.  

That the act of caring for ourselves and becoming more conscious, more aware, more self-loving, it’s not something we do to get something. It’s something we do because that’s what we should be doing. That becoming more aware of our greatness, our wholeness, our lovingness, is just part of the lifelong journey and just being a productive and happy human being. Yet the idea that we can do “this and get that” is based on a kind of binary and mechanical linear way of thinking, that just doesn’t match the complexity and mysterious nature of life.

So then it can feel unfair, you can feel kind of aggrieved, that I’m doing all these things, I’m loving myself, I’m caring for myself, I’m doing my affirmations and where is this person? What you discover is “the secret” and “law of attraction” just don’t match up with reality. Part of the issue with this thing if “you have to love yourself before you can meet someone” is, how do you measure if you’re doing it? Is it 50% more self-love? Or 80%? What’s the arbitrary point you “get there”? What happens if you do love yourself enough and still no one comes into your life? Do you have to love yourself more? Do you have to love yourself less? This is where it just becomes kind of ridiculous, that you end up where it just falls apart. When you examine and put them under scrutiny, they don’t make sense and they’re not something to kind of work with.

So if you’re at a point in your life where you want to attract love into your life, yes “love yourself more” but also be aware that there are degrees of control that we don’t have. There’s an understanding of the complex matrix of life, living and human relationships that there are so many levels and layers to it. So trying to work out simplistic formulas, that “I do this and I’ll get that” just you burden yourself unnecessarily. 

So if you’re at a point where you are trying to bring a loving relationship into your life, for sure, work on caring for yourself, work on feeling better about yourself, that is going to help. Yet it will not determine an outcome. If you’re trying to be healthy and you’re going to eat better food and exercise, of course, that’ll help and I’ll support you in that process. But it will not determine and guarantee your health. There are more and more things at work than what we’re aware of. So how do we be more conscious of how to be aware of are there unconscious processes in me that maybe do have an element there where I’m pushing people away? is there a part of me where it’s convenient on one level emotionally and safe to be on my own? That I need to be more conscious that as we uncover and understand ourselves better, can we start to guide and direct our way our life in a way that’s more in line with kind of what what we want and what we need. sometimes maybe we think “we want a loving relationship” and we “need a loving relationship” because we’re told we need that but there’s another part of us that feels safer not having that. We are complicated people human beings, we are complicated creatures and the process of creating loving relationships and bringing loving relationships into our lives is just not straightforward.

 So please, if you’re at that point in your life where you want to love and you’re trying to attract love, do not burden yourself with this empty formula “I need to do this to get that” because it will lead to frustration. What we can do is say “I want to be more aware, I want to be more conscious I want to feel more love in my life” but I’m also aware that attracting a loving relationship won’t all end there. That when I get a loving relationship I am still got to keep working on loving myself because, maybe I’ll sabotage it, maybe I’ll push it away, maybe I won’t be able to enjoy it. For me, it was hard just to accept it, to begin with, but I also understood that attracting a loving relationship was maybe part of me loving myself. That loving oneself isn’t just this arbitrary thing you do on your own when you’re single for two years and then when you’ve done enough of it you meet someone. It’s way more complicated than that. Attracting good friendships, attracting a job that you’re happy with, bringing a romantic relationship that is good for you. Even if you’re feeling bad about yourself, is an act of self-love. 

 So the whole idea that self-love is just this solitary, individual separate thing and then we build up enough of it we get this “20 liters of self-love”. It doesn’t help, it’s something that creates a kind of internal pressure and a sense of expectation of oneself. That I think is unnecessary and unfair. So please love yourself more but do so with an openness and an awareness that we love ourselves for the sake of loving ourselves. We love others for the sake of loving others. We don’t love ourselves and love others to get something, to go somewhere, to arrive somewhere. We do it for its own sake. If you trust that process and deepen that process then life does have a way of kind of organizing itself in a way that kind of flows. Often we want and what we need are two different things. what what is going on in this on a subconscious level or unconscious level and a conscious level there’s a lot more incongruency than maybe what we’re aware of at times. 

What I’ve discovered in my journey personally and my journey is we just don’t know a lot of the time and life is complicated and we’ve got to try to keep things as simple and as honest as possible. even though that’s not convenient, even though part of us likes little formulas “if I do this, I’ll get that” but as we let go of that and surrender the fact that part of us just doesn’t know. we’ve got to work on these fundamental things and trust the outcome. surrender to what happens is harder and it’s more ambiguous but it’s more honest and on one level I think it’s easier because it takes this burden of “I need to do this to get” to this other place, were we trust more and open up to life.

An other video you might find helpful.

In this video i share my own personal experience of feeling worn out and tired from so much “working on myself”. I discussion how i deal with this “existential fatigue” and how we find the balance between continue to build on our gains , whilst knowing when to surrender and let go.

………….Are you feeling “WORKING ON YOURSELF” fatigue? I DO

An interesting video from the world’s leading researcher of self-compassion and founder of the Mindful Self-Compassion program explains the core features of self-compassion.


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