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Why The Key To Finding True Love Is Self-Love

Why The Key To Finding True Love Is Self-Love

I remember the day vividly. It was another weekend; another Sunday feeling lonely, miserable and unwanted. As I cried in my bedroom, unable to shake off that voice inside of me saying “Leave him, you don’t need this anymore,” I knew that it had to happen today. Finally, I’d hit my lowest point and was ready to tell him that I wanted to be on my own again.

It wasn’t easy, but then it never is when you still love someone — or you think you do. Yet I still had a strong emotional pull to end it, no matter how many tears fell down my cheek.

What saddens me more is that I’d gotten us to this point. I’d pushed, cajoled and manipulated him into it all of this from the beginning, and here I was ending it. For what seemed like forever, I’d wanted him to love me, to “complete” me and make me feel that I was worth something. And now I was turning my back on him, to it all, finally being honest with myself.

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I’d made my life his life, I no longer knew who I was, or what I wanted to do with my life. I’d lost a part of me.

He tried his best, the best that he knew how, and I’ll always love him for that. But it was never going to be good enough – not until I knew how to love myself first.

You see, I’d based my need for love and acceptance on what he thought of me. His opinion and view of who I was seemed to be the only thing that mattered. If he thought I was smart, intelligent, sexy and kind, then that’s who I became. I was what I thought he wanted me to be, and that was someone who wasn’t me.

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Then, when that day finally came, it wasn’t a bolt-out-of-the-blue decision. To be honest, it had been gnawing away at me for months, but I’d tried to numb it and pretend it didn’t exist.

Once I’d told him, I felt a deep sense of release, like a bird finally being set free from its cage. I could now start on my own journey of self-love and self-discovery.

Now I could:

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  • Be who I wanted to be with no need for acceptance from anyone
  • Finally follow my own dreams with no ties or complaints from someone else
  • Learn to give as much love, attention and care to myself before loving someone else again
  • Understand that having a sense of my own self-worth and self-reliance was important for my own well-being

It was finally my time, and I wasn’t going to go back to my old habits, relying on someone else to make me feel important, loved and special. I could do it all by myself, and I was ready to wake up and live with purpose at long last!

What is self-love anyway?

  • Not being afraid to live the life you’ve always dreamed of, and going with it wholeheartedly
  • Being good to yourself, being kind and compassionate — especially during difficult times
  • Eating well, drinking plenty of water and looking after that wonderful body of yours
  • Having the courage to stand up for what you believe, in no matter what
  • Being passionate about what makes you come alive, and sharing it with others
  • Knowing and understanding who you really are
  • Not being afraid to be vulnerable; keeping your heart open
  • Choosing to be happy; looking for the good in every situation, and learning from the bad stuff that happens
  • Being grateful for everything that you already have your life, and forgiving yourself for past mistakes

Want a great relationship? Learn how to love yourself first

When you love yourself fully, you become more in tune with your real feelings, and trust your intuition and decisions with little doubt or worry. Loving yourself will not only create a better space to be more vulnerable, open and authentic, it will mean that those who love you will become a reflection on how you love yourself.

Self-love will widen the door to your heart, and you’ll act out of kindness, compassion and joy.  You’ll focus less on what’s going badly in your life and more on what’s good, which brings with it a sense of gratitude.

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It’ll also open your eyes to new possibilities in life; you’ll see things that you’ve never seen before, and look for the good in people rather than the bad. With that, you’ll attract people who are generous with their love, and partake in experiences that you could only have dreamed of previously.

You’ll feel passionate, inspired and uplifted, and the best bit is it came all from within you!

Finding true love will be easier and more natural

That’s not saying there will be no challenging times, fears or worries, but you’ll be able to handle things better with more clarity and consciousness.  True love will come in its own time, and because of your own self-love you’ll be less needy or desperate for it to happen, it’ll just happen.

So are you ready to love yourself first?

Featured photo credit: DonnaGrayson via flickr.com

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Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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