How Is Your “Learning To Love Yourself” Game Plan Working For You?

If anyone doubts the importance of “loving yourself”, get over it.  I am not talking about narcissistically being in love with yourself, for that is ultimately self destructive and damaging for anyone who shares life with such a person. Positive Psychology asserts the value of loving yourself. The words of Jesus coincide with this imperative. (“Love God above all and your neighbor as YOURSELF”).

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse has long been a proponent of this worthwhile endeavor. She devoted one of her books to the topic.  In this article I will quote some of the directives from her book, LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF, adding some of my own commentary.

Wegscheider-Cruse states that signs of low self worth include eating disorders (eating too much or too little), trouble with relationships (especially intimate ones), physical problems (usually not taking very good care of yourself), drug and alcohol abuse (a way to run away from pain), workaholism and frenetic activity (stay busy to escape feelings), smoking (another example of not taking good care of yourself), overspending (another way to negate sad feelings with superficial adrenalin activities),dependency relationships (lean on someone else if you can’t love and depend on yourself).

The first step, according to W-C, is to become aware of your present reality and the forces in the past that have shaped your present condition. Once you raise your awareness of what is, it is time to act by: removing toxic substances and relationships from your life; make new more productive life choices. When looking at your past it is important to understand the role of your parents as they were the primary shapers of your thoughts and emotions.  The goal is to understand and describe, “to tell your truth”, but not play the “blame game”. That just serves up a pity party for you.  Playing the victim does not move you forward. Forgiveness may well be appropriate on your road to living a life of love.

Low self esteem usually develops from failures within the family structure.  Family needs to be a place of security, nurturance – of being loved deeply.  The degree of dysfunctionality in the family system generally is reflected in the depth of the low self esteem.

There are only two instances where you experience “intimacy” in life.  Intimacy is emotional vulnerability.  You are vulnerable as a child growing up in the family.  The other place you are vulnerable is in a committed relationship.  Your partner can hurt you emotionally OR your partner can help heal the wounds of childhood by offering that needed security, nurturance, and deep love.

Wegscheider-Cruse offers these “characteristics of intimates”:

  1. Intimates fight, laugh, plan, share ideas and fill the relationship with high energy (fun to be with).
  2. Intimates share authority in relationships.  They are partners.
  3. Intimates accept and appreciate change.
  4. Intimates can be counted on for consistent behavior.  That is how they build trust.
  5. Intimates have enough self worth to know they deserve closeness, care and attention, and don’t have to play games for attention.
  6. Intimates develop their sense of humor.  They save enough money, energy, and time to play together, and sometimes do outrageous things.
  7. Intimates learn to ask for what they want and need, and give up manipulation and whining.
  8. Intimates can become “like children” with each other without embarrassment.  They do not waste a day or night without some appreciation for each other.

The people that are able to create such intimate relationships are those that:

  1. See beauty in other people
  2.  Can define personal values – know what they believe in.
  3. Demonstrate independence, rather than dependence in many area of life.
  4. Know how to develop one’s own self esteem and give as well as take.
  5. Have learned how to accept the reality of how things are rather than how they wish them to be.
  6. Have learned to forgive, and know that life is lived forward.
  7. Have learned to appreciate what they have to offer.

Well, Respected Reader, how do you measure up? Are you very good at loving yourself?  How about creating an intimate relationship?   Is there more “learning” to be done as you continue to create a life worth living?  Welcome to the Club!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

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