I should always love myself first, and you should too

I should always love myself first, and you should too

From good communication to honesty, love, integrity, and passion, there are tons of factors that go into building a conscious, balanced, sacred partnership, but in my opinion, there is one factor that is so overlooked - our relationship with ourselves. People who aren't conscious of the connection between personal identity and relationship identity don't understand that we bring emotional wounds from our childhood, teenage and adult years into our adult relationships, whether in business, love, or friendship. Our childhood and adulthood are profoundly interlinked and impact how we show up in the world and how we feel about ourselves. This sets the basis of something called 'unconscious attraction', which is the type of love we accept, attract and tolerate. I find that when people start looking into things, they start to see a lot of reasons why they've ended up in the relationships that they have.

In my opinion, a connection to self (really understanding who you are and how you came to be this way) plus a solid basis of self-love, self-respect (and even self-adoration) allows you to enter into a relationship from the best place possible - not from a place of lack where you need to rely on another person to fill the void for you. If you are entering a relationship without a solid foundation of internal worth, trust, or belief in yourself (like you don't understand the truth of what makes you worthy, likable and loveable), you will likely have a constant need (either conscious or subconscious) for someone else to be validating you externally. If you aren't filling up your own cup, you will continually look to your partner for them to 'fill the void' and to make you feel better. This is not the foundation of a healthy relationship - because not only can this person take that validation away from you at any moment, but also, because I believe that a healthy relationship should focus on building something together, both taking responsibility for the emotions you bring to the table, rather than the pressure being on one person in the relationship to constantly reassure the other. This is a sure-fire way to lead to the end of a relationship over time if you are mothering or fathering your partner or guiding them through their trauma rather than them taking responsibility for it.

When you don't have self-love or self-respect, you also won't trust in yourself, your judgment, your decisions, and your boundaries - because you will have never been taught that your own internal compass, intuition, and decision making is worthy of being followed - and that your boundaries are worthy of being respected (EVEN if someone else doesn't like them). This lack of internal self-love often shows up in terms of pleasing people. I always refer to this as the inner child wound because your inner child doesn't want the other person to leave (just like we wanted our parents to stick around in childhood), so without a feeling of safety on our own, you will do everything and anything to ensure that the other person sticks around. But I always ask my friends - what sort of true validation is this if they only stay around because you are bending backward to tolerate their behavior? When you are clear on who you are and what you stand for, you can start to find consistency, stability, and happiness in yourself, meaning that you don't have to look for another to fill up your cup. This means you will avoid a codependent or conditional form of love because, honestly? You will want them, but you won't *need* them, and that is a critical piece of information to distinguish.

The problem is that our childhoods often teach us that we need others to love us or that we need to act in a certain way to earn love from our caregivers. Our caregivers often did their best with what they knew, but their emotional limitations impacted how they loved and cared for us. This, in turn, influences how we grow into adults and what we think and know love to be. But for some people? Particularly for those with narcissistic parents, things can be even more complicated.

I see many people around me who have been deeply shaped (and often damaged) by their parents or narcissistic parents who have never made them feel like they were good enough or lovable enough. This leads to them often dating similar types of people in adulthood, which can lead to deeply toxic and distressing relationships (but that feel like 'love' and 'passion') - or becoming toxic themselves.

Narcissistic parenting is a big deal and adversely impacts children's development and impacts them emotionally and even physically in terms of health conditions for a long, long time. Narcissism is a personality disorder where people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a total lack of empathy for others. It's all hidden behind a mask of ultra self-confidence, but underneath it all, the person is deeply vulnerable to even the slightest criticism. When you have narcissistic parents, they often will humiliate and shame you, meaning you grow up with poor or unstable self-esteem. Sometimes the children grow into adults that have to prove themselves. The parents will often have emotional outbursts, control and manipulate their children, and the child may feel that life revolves around the parent's happiness. Narcissistic mothers are particularly damaging and overlooked - they always want to be the center of attention, are low on emotional empathy, are selfish, domineering, expect their children to be perfect, and can be emotionally unstable and totally erratic. Children with narcissistic parents often become adults who people please, are poor at setting boundaries and are bad at identifying their emotions, or they can become men who mistreat women due to their relationship with their Mom. Often, children of narcissists will also disassociate and disconnect in the 'freeze' response as a form of self-preservation and might have many relationship challenges.

I see many of these toxic situations around me, and I have been in some myself. I'm having to do a huge amount of work on my own self-love, self-respect, and internal boundaries - particularly when I found myself attracted to toxic men who were bad for me. Like with everything, self-awareness is so important here. Once you commit to doing the work, you can start to see what cycles you have been conditioned with, and then you can start to break them down and rebuild them.

For me, self-love is a huge part of my daily practice. You can head here for my full morning routine, but here are some areas that I try to focus on in terms of building my self-love, self-respect, and self-identity:

  1. I engage in self-mirror talk and affirmation work when I can - I love to know I am working deep into my subconscious as this is what truly holds power;
  2. I connect with my body through a holi (body) worship routine and thank it for all it has done to get me where I am today;
  3. I try to accept the broken parts of me - this isn't about thinking I am 'perfect' it is accepting that I am perfect despite all I have been through and have weathered. I forgive those in my past who hurt me - I know that I am stronger than anything they put me through and that everything has shaped me to be this resilient, proud, strong woman I am today. I'm grateful for them, no matter what they did. 
  4. I engage in a health and fitness routine frequently and engage in therapy whenever necessary because if you do not respect and cherish your body and mind, then you will not be telling yourself subconsciously that it is worthy of being loved;
  5. I always put my own energy first over anyone else's. Some people might call this selfish, but I call it smart. I will never engage with anyone who has bad energy, and I will not engage with anyone who steals from my energy in any way. I keep my circle around me incredibly small and full of amazing people - you are not getting access to me if you aren't a really good quality person;
  6. I am actively working on setting my boundaries now. I am a strong, intelligent smart woman, and I will leave a relationship (business or personal) at the first sign of red flags because I no longer am willing to sacrifice myself and end up in shitty relationships or situations. I have done this too many times when I was younger;
  7. I try to love myself hard - I believe in myself more than anyone else because if I won't, then who will? I tell myself constantly that I can achieve whatever I want to and reaffirm how many beautiful things there are about me.
  8. I try to take time out for myself whenever I need it - maybe it's that my period needs me to be extra gentle with myself that week, or maybe it is that I need a couple of hours where I will move work calls and prioritize me. I always come first because I know that my future partner will be grateful for how I cherish and care for myself.
  9. Finally, I try to listen to my feminine energy and intuition. We are so often disconnected from our true self and intuition that it is hard to see what our body and soul truly feel. Slowing down allows us to look a little more clearly at what is happening, what part we are playing in it, and how we can act differently for a better and more healthy outcome.

This work is such a huge part of my journey and I hope it will be in yours too. Let me know what you'd add to the list.

To love and healing,

Jena x