You cannot love your neighbor if you do not love yourself.
At a time in my life, I observed that it didn’t come easy for me to express love, compassion, empathy and vulnerability to others. And I wasn’t okay with it. I wanted to be able to forgive people genuinely, I wanted to be able to put myself in the other person’s shoes without feeling awkward, and I wanted to be vulnerable without regrets.
So, I began to pay close attention to my relationship with me, and I became more self-aware and attentive to my internal conversations. I consciously sought to understand the what, how, who, when, and whys behind my beliefs and mindsets. I began to observe the thoughts that influenced my actions, and that was when it suddenly dawned on me that, the reason I was hard on others was because I was hard on myself.
I realized that I had a hard time extending love and forgiveness to others because I had not learnt self-compassion. I simply could not give what I didn’t have. It was such a humbling experience for me!
I used to be very self-critical; I would berate myself very badly whenever I fell short of my personal standards. And because I almost never gave myself an excuse to slack, it was difficult for me to tolerate such from others. Because I couldn’t love myself enough to look past my mistakes and embrace my strengths, it was hard to love others despite their flaws. I learnt that I had to love myself unconditionally before I could express unconditional love to others.
I suspect that a lot of us can relate with my experience. We live our lives trying to be perfect. And in a bid to show that we have our heads sitting pretty on our necks, we set standards for ourselves, which is good by the way. But then, we sometimes don’t meet up, which is perfectly understandable because we are simply humans.
However, because we are not self-aware enough to accept who we are, including our strengths and shortcomings, we beat ourselves up and leave little or no room for growth. We are ashamed and unable to tolerate our weaknesses, and we, in turn, are unable to tolerate others.
It is necessary you understand that you can’t give what you don’t have and you are only able to love others to the extent to which you love yourself. In fact, you owe it to your mental health and well-being to be compassionate to yourself.
Which is why I am challenging you to love yourself unconditionally and practice self-compassion. Because only then can you freely and genuinely express love, forgive and compassion to others.
Accept who you are while you reach for your higher self, and celebrate your unique journey.
Own your mistakes and make the decision to move past it. Identify the reason behind your mistake. This way, you take responsibility, establish measures to prevent a recurrence, and seek to redress it.
Acknowledge your emotions. It is okay to feel bad about your mistakes, but you shouldn’t dwell on it. Challenge your inner critic and respond with self-love and compassion.
Consider your mistakes as learning experiences. Be patient with yourself, focus on the lesson and build on that experience to do better next time.
Understand that forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a commitment, it is a decision. Therefore make the decision to forgive yourself.