"You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”. Do you feel anger or frustration when this hackneyed expression is directed at you? Despite the fact this statement holds great truths, it can often be received as a smug utterance from someone who has accomplished all this loving of self, and others. The absence of good role modelling means that many of us may have no idea how to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, a manual detailing how one might go about this does not exist in our schools or homes. The reality is that we follow the relationship patterns we have learned growing up instead of asking ourselves, “How can I make myself happy? How can I bring joy to my life? How can I take care of myself?” Regardless of your relationship status, you may struggle to answer these questions. Are you aware of your own needs? If not, it is time for you to listen to your inner wisdom. Some of you may refer to this as “instinct” or, your “gut response”. Whatever you call it, discover how you can quieten your mind enough to listen to it. Some of the ways my clients accomplish this is through; mindfulness or meditation practice, a hobby or, an activity that brings them great joy, whereas others prefer one-to-one coaching to help them identify their needs.
One way to notice if you are not meeting your own needs is if you regularly find yourself making your partner, dates, family, friends or work colleagues responsible for meeting them. In my role as a relationship coach, I meet so many people who spend time and energy blaming their partner for being inconsiderate and selfish or, someone they are dating for not giving them enough attention. Yet interestingly, in most of these cases, the individual will not have shared their needs or expectations to the person they are attributing blame. Many people avoid the short-term emotional discomfort of sharing because they hold a limiting belief about their self-worth. Instead, develop your self-esteem through self-awareness and self-love and embrace your true desires. Meet your own needs to be seen and heard and decide then what you need to share with another. Once you develop more self-love and a deeper understanding of your fundamental needs you will be less inclined to blame others for not meeting them. The most important relationship you can develop is the one you have with yourself. So this Valentine’s day, engage in some of the following strategies to develop self-esteem and self-love.
- Increase awareness regarding your own needs
- Increase your understanding of what does and does not serve you
- Discover ways you can meet your needs
- Be confident expressing what you need and want from others
- Let go of people that continue to disrespect or ignore your (expressed) needs
- Develop boundaries to protect your needs and wants in relationships
- Set realistic relationship goals and make progress to make them a reality