Love Yourself —
Or You Won’t Be Able to Love Anyone ElseYou Cannot Give What You Don’t Have
by Bo Sanchez
I’ve got a confession to make.
As a young Christian, I used to believe that we shouldn’t love ourselves.
To me, loving myself was another word for selfishness.And I have an embarrassing experience to prove it. One day, as a 14-year-old kid, I went to confession and said, “Father, I play the guitar for our prayer meeting, but I sometimes feel proud whenever I play the guitar — because I know I play well.”The white-haired priest chuckled, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “Son, a part of that feeling of yours is good, wholesome pride.
That’s important in life. So go ahead and play your guitar, feel good while you play it, and have a sense of pride doing so. Love yourself, son.”I nodded my head but told myself that I would never go to this priest again.
Obviously, this priest was less spiritually than I was. So he couldn’t understand me — the way some spiritual directors misunderstood mystics. He was not in my league. I belonged to the likes of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.Twenty-five years later, I laugh at my arrogance.Today, I’ve grown older — and humbler. (I hope. Because someone told me that if you say you’re humble, you’re not. Gosh.)
I now feel very strongly about this truth: That I cannot love anyone else — not even God — if I don’t love myself. Why? Because I cannot give what I don’t have.
ON PROUD PEOPLE
In fact, I’ve met very few really proud people in my lifetime.Because most of what we call “proud” people are just the exact opposite: They’re very insecure people who’re so desperate to prove themselves. They brag of their achievements, they boast of their wealth and they act really bossy.But deep within, they’re desperate for someone to love them. Because they don’t love themselves.
ON HYPERCRITICAL PEOPLE
Have you met a hypercritical person?I’ve met a few of them. They love to tear others down.Somehow, they feel they have received a Divine Appointment to tell the world how rotten everyone is. So they’ll criticize this person and that person — and you almost feel that he really enjoys throwing rubbish at everyone.Are these people proud?On the contrary, I’ve discovered that these self-appointed critics hate themselves.Subconsciously, they simply project themselves onto others — so they like taking shots at everybody.I repeat my thesis: When you don’t love yourself, you’ll have a difficult time loving others.
LOOK AT HOW YOU VIEW OTHERS
Here’s a clue as to how you view yourself: Check how you view others. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.— Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D Your reactions to others say more about you than they do about others.Because every human being you meet is a mirror.
Do you know that upon meeting a total stranger, you form an impression of that person in the first four minutes of your encounter? You decide in the first four minutes what you like or don’t like. These decisions will be based on facial features, tone of voice, cologne scent and your own past experiences.Your reactions to other people are really just barometers for how you perceive yourself.If you accept that, then every human encounter becomes a gift from God for you to learn about yourself. What you see in others is only a projection of yourself. So learn! What irritates you in that person? Their pride? Their rigidity? Their selfishness? Look deep inside, and you will find the same things in a slightly different form or shape.
Every time someone irritates you, or angers you, or hurts you, ask: What gift is being given to me? This person is a mirror. What is he teaching me about me? One day, I was in a meeting with a man whom I perceived to be disorganized.He didn’t come prepared for our meeting, and there was no forward planning involved, and it was as though nothing much was going to happen.As I continued to judge him, I hit the pause button and searched deep inside: Did I hate my own disorganization? And the answer was a very loud YES!So this irritation I was feeling wasn’t about this man.
It was about me — I didn’t like the part of me that was disorganized.Just being aware of these dynamics will help.Let me now try to clarify what it means to love yourself.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE TREATED BY OTHERS?
• “I want him to be patient with me when I make mistakes.”
• “He should be thoughtful of my needs.”
• “I would like him to give me rest when he sees that I’m tired.”
• “Yes, he should treat me out for a mother’s day off!”
After a barrage of answers like these, I turned the tables around and asked, “Now tell me, my dear women, do you treat yourself in these ways?”Their faces went blank. Finally, one woman asked, “What do you mean?”“
First, are you patient with yourself when you make mistakes? Or do you endlessly criticize yourself, replaying inyour mind your failure again and again? How many of you are your harshest critic?”I saw a raise of hands.“
Second, are you thoughtful of your own needs? Do you actually know what you need? Or are you always subsuming all your needs for the needs of your children — that you no longer know what you need?”Some women were already holding hankies over their faces.“
Third, do you give yourself rest? Or do you feel guilty when you take a break, feeling as though your own mother were there beside you, telling you to get up and do something?”Many of them nodded.“
Fourth, do you give yourself a mother’s day off? Do you actually write it on your calendar and announce to the family that you’ll take it?”I continued,“Mothers are known for recklessly not loving themselves. They act like they’re superheroes, and worse, martyrs. They’ll work and work and work until they feel depressed and die. But mothers, remember that if you don’t value yourself, you’re teaching your kids not to value themselves as well.”Here’s our problem: We like others to treat us well.But do we treat ourselves well?Many of us don’t.
Let me just share with you a few ways of loving yourself…
1. BELIEVE IN YOUR WORTH
Call it “Love Me” activities. Stuff that will refresh you, bless you, nurture you.
Watch the sunset
Read a good book
Take a long walk
Have an “alone time” every week
Have a massage
Listen to your favorite music
Have pizza with a friend
Eat fruits for breakfast
Have a salad every meal
Pray every morning
Kiss my wife seven times a day
Play with my sons daily And when you start valuing yourself, you’ll begin to realize that it’ll be easier to value others around you.Deep within you is a love tank.You won’t be able to give love if your love tank is empty. Fill up your love tank with love, and then you have something to give. Because you cannot give what you don’t have.
KBo’s Action Steps:
1. Do you love yourself? Do you feel yourself worth while? Do you accept yourself for who you are, weaknesses and all? Do you nurture yourself and take care of yourself?
2. List down “Love-Me Activities,” things that you enjoy and have always wanted to do to nurture and care for yourself.
God bless you, my dear friends…