We wrapped up Part I of this article with the key question: Why is it important to love yourself in order to be able to love someone else? Beverly Hills and Valencia Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling would like to offer several thoughts on this matter:
Psychotherapist Point 1: You are emotionally grounded and resilient.
We live in a high speed, high contrast world. An ocean of people, real or virtual, surrounds us at all times. Our friends, family, and media are attempting to sway us one way or another, change our opinions, perceptions, decisions, and choices. Most of people around you do not have the clear and solid internally driven focus to prevent themselves from being tossed and turned by the waves of fads and trends. Like a ship in a stormy oceanthey are dragged by external forces having little hope of establishing their own course and reaching desirable destination.
You, on the other hand, now have one of the keys to hold your ground. By establishing your internally driven focus and grounding yourself in self-appreciation, it is easy to let the outside storm take its course, while you are pursuing the course of your own. Maintaining the attitude of self-appreciation will protect you from being dragged into the every-day drama of emotional reactivity. All of a sudden it will be much less important what others think or say about you, and much more important what is it that you think about yourself. Before you know it, the outside storm will cease to exist for you, and your world will maintain an even kilt on your path of self discovery and growth.
In relationships, the attitude of self-love and self-appreciation allows us to withstand the ebb and flow of emotions between us and our lover. It is the anchor that prevents the occasional miscommunications and misunderstandings to drift into the waters of emotional drama. In my couples counseling and marriage counseling practice in Beverly Hills and Valencia I rarely see individuals who have developed strong internal anchor. These individuals and couples usually do not need psychotherapy or couples counseling. Self-love and respect protects us from getting upset, disappointed and hurt easily. It is the buffer that allows the internal space for the intimacy and love to grow in our relationships and marriage. You can think of it as a protective cushion around your heart, protecting it and allowing it to shine with confidence, nurturing not only you, but also you partner and the love between the two of you.
Psychotherapist Point 2: You have compassion for yourself and for your lover.
Attitude of self-love and self-appreciation allows you to have a tolerant stance toward your own human faults and toward those of others. You understand and appreciate the fact that we all are on our path toward the better and greater us. The only difference is that you might have not yet learned what others already know, or others might be behind you in their learning of certain life aspects. In couples counseling and marriage counseling mutual appreciation and understanding means resolution and happy relationships. Life is just like an elementary school: you were better than others in some things, and with some subjects you might have needed a bit more time and guidance. Understanding it helps us recognize the faults in us and in our lovers as natural, and accept it for what it is – being human.
Once we recognize and accept our own shortcomings, it is easy to have an attitude of humor and lightness when others point those out to us. It becomes just a part of who we are, and we are to decide whether to change it, or just let ourselves be. Once we accept our own quirks, it is easy to accept those of others, including those of our lovers and partners. We are able to recognize our own imperfections, and are comfortable with others being imperfect as well. I cannot recall if I saw this one couple in Beverly Hills or Valencia office, however, they brought up an issue that reminded me of my own life. Specifically, I am not a morning person and tend to wake up around 9:00am. When I do wake up on the weekends, I love to cuddle and spend some lazy time in bed. My spouse is up at 7:00 am and ready for action, which leaves no space for my delicious lazy time. Of course, I have the option of pouting, blaming, and accusing my spouse of not carrying, etc., which would open the door for the emotional drama in my marriage. Or, I can simply express my wish of having a morning cuddle-time. Our differences provide an opportunity for communication and stronger connection.
Psychotherapist Point 3: You are able to take an objective look at yourself and grow.
By loving yourself and accepting who you are, you shift from focusing on external validation and feedback, to internal core of you. You know that we all have plenty of room for improvement in any given area of our lives, and you also know that you have come a long way, and there is an unfolding path in front of you – the path you are taking right now. You realize that personal growth is not about judgment, but understanding. You know that your shortcomings are just obstacles on your path toward the better and greater version of you. They are indicators that you are progressing on your path.
Once you are grounded in self-acceptance and love it is so much easier to look at your flaws, accept them for what they are, and make a choice. Sometimes the choice may be to take one of your weak areas and put an effort to strengthen it. Sometimes, the choice may be to make the fault into an asset, and sometimes, just accepting it for what it is and making a choice to put your energy somewhere else is the right choice to make. Whatever it is that you choose, coming from a place of love and appreciation allows you to look at yourself with a more objective eye, which is a huge step on your path of personal growth.
In couples counseling, marriage counseling, and psychotherapy a large part of the work is to bring the client to the point of acceptance and appreciation. It also means being able to take responsibility for the choices you have made and actions you have taken. Once you accept personal responsibility for your successes as well as your failures, you are much more likely to have more of the first ones, and less of the second. For example, you meet someone and the initial surge of infatuation takes you to all new heights. On the second date you are observing the couples around you, contemplating marriage. All of a sudden, you future spouse disappears. No phone calls, 3 un-returned texts, and a big question mark – wtf happened? I am guessing all of us found ourselves in this type of conundrum. Although there is “no sugar in this pill,” it is much easier to swallow with a healthy dose of self-appreciation. When we love and appreciate who we are, this type of blows in a dating game are much easier to handle, understanding that it is not all about us, and that sometimes one door has to be shut for the next one to open. Will it make the situation more pleasant? Nope. However, it will make it much less distressing.
Psychotherapist Point 4: Your balanced and harmonious self is inviting more of the same to come to you.
Once you ground yourself in self-love and self-appreciation, you come across as balanced, grounded, confident, mature, and solid. This quality of energy in your presence is very appealing to your potential lovers. In relationships when given a choice between solid vs. flimsy, trustworthy vs. flaky, confident vs. insecure, we tend to choose the first over the second. Not only that, but also same invites more of the same. Have you noticed that the more hectic and scattered you feel the more hectic and scattered things get around you? The opposite is true as well. Having internally focused presence grounded in self-appreciation and self-respect will bring more of it to you. In my marriage counseling practice both in Beverly Hills and Valencia I noticed that toward the end of our work together my clients present as calmer, more grounded, easier to smile, more focused and more alive. You are much more likely to attract loving and grounded partners and interactions when you are in a loving and grounded internal space. This attitude opens many doors for fruitful romance, prosperous future relationships, and even marriage. After all, couples that combine two confident, secure, respectful, appreciative, and loving individuals are much more likely to create the relationships and marriage you have in mind.
There are probably many more important reasons to start your quest of the wonderful relationships you want with yourself, by developing the attitude of self-love and self-appreciation. I know you are a curious and intelligent reader that is very capable of filling the blanks and getting the bigger picture. I opened the Part I of this article with Deepak Chopra’s lyrics “A Gift of Love” and I would like to finish this part with Kahlil Gibran’s words on couples in marriage:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.