Did you know that we can easily find out if we really love ourselves? How? First, let's analyze how we love others? Because there is no way to love others unconditionally if we do not love ourselves. Many people think they love and care for others, but they have no time for themselves. If this is your case too, think about how much joy and true love is there in your relationships? When we take care of others without taking care of ourselves, we exhaust ourselves, become nervous and dissatisfied with others. If we want to take care of others longer and better: with a lot of patience and kindness, we must first take care of ourselves. Let's remember what they tell us on board the planes: "in case of a problem, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then on your child." There is a logic in it, there is no way we can help others if we are not in a good condition.
Therefore, if caring and loving others exhausts us and makes us unhappy, we must be brutally honest to ourselves: does what we do recharge our batteries or it only charges the batteries of the others, and if the latter is the right answer, how long will we be ok with it without collapsing? It is also good to think about the joy we bring to the people we think we care about if we are constantly tired, burnt out, dissatisfied, or nervous as a result.
My children have given me the most important lesson in life, insisting that they rather don't need a dinner cooked by their mother, but a nice conversation with me on the topics that excite them, not me (which requires an active listening from my side: no interruptions to share my great ideas how I can help and what can be done better).
There is another interesting aspect of why we tend to spend more time caring for others and neglecting ourselves. And it is related to internal and external control.
It has been empirically proven that we need to exercise more external control when we do not know how or cannot manage ourselves (lack of internal control). It turns out that it is easier to expect and demand from others than to change something in ourselves or do something for ourselves. Everyone has been in a situation where we think we have given to others or done something for another person, but this has not been appreciated from their side. The result is resentment, insult, blame. If we try to look at such past experience asking ourselves the question: If I have done something for myself too while taking care for others, would I have experienced such strong negative emotions as a result?
There is no way we can only feel joy and satisfaction all the time, without a gram of fatigue when we do things for others. But if we have planned that in parallel with caring for others, we will give ourselves a small reward - then we give ourselves joy, which automatically reduces our expectations of others. They might be grateful to us, but they might also fail to notice what we have done for them. It is completely meaningless, even destructive, to immerse ourselves in negative thoughts that our work has not been noticed and appreciated. We cannot control and manage their actions, but only ours.
When we treat ourselves with love, kindness, and compassion, we have far fewer expectations of the actions and reactions of others. This brings us closer to both the unconditional love for them and our true self.
Parker Palmer, author of the bestseller “Let Your Life Speak”, wrote: “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."
So, love yourself so that you can truly love others!