The Love For Yourself
By: Jessica Manuel and Rev. Anthony Tarasca
You cannot give what you have yet to receive and the more you invest in yourself, the more you are able to give to others.
It cannot be underestimated how the Love of Family will most certainly result in the Love for Yourself. It will establish the very foundation in which a child learns how to process love, a love that is given and nurturing, to which that same love will be offered to others as unconditional as it was taken in.
If one feels that love is earned it can lead to a feeling of unworthiness. Barring this, love can be something so out of reach that it leaves one wondering how it can ever be acquired, if in fact it can be.
Most commonly, the absence of a strong family unit can also lead to neglecting the most important person in your life, yourself.
A Story from Jessica…
I never cared for Jessica to the extent I do now.
It was always easier for me to focus on my inadequacies, they were evidently pointed out in the way others treated me. It was easy for me to notice others smiling and interacting effortlessly or how they seemed to walk around without worry or self-condemnation.
In my teenage years a large part of my focus was dedicated to pondering the reasons why it was so hard for me to accept myself, how my circumstances left me feeling victimized and misunderstood. Why was I seemingly alone, discouraged and lacking hope for my future ahead?
Never feeling good enough led to a choice to make, a perspective that inevitably saved me from the deep fear of failure. I learned how to hide the insecurities and lack of contentment in life and relied on an image of success to limit acquisitions from others or the void of love in my life.
This perspective and increased ambitions benefited my circumstances however the lack of self-love was a void that eventually needed to be addressed in order to sustain a deeper level of understanding, contentment, and most importantly a balance between my personal and professional life.
Through this hard and complicated journey, along with understanding the advantages of balance, I started to value my time and health at a deeper level. Spending time understanding who I was, the qualities that were valuable allowed me to set boundaries, make better choices and spend more time with the same Jessica I spent years neglecting.
Learning to love yourself is one of the hardest choices to make if you have yet to receive love for who you naturally are. Some people never come to accepting, appreciating or even understanding themselves. Spending time diving into your imperfections or being accountable to change is an uncomfortable process to endure but one that was worth every minute.
Unfortunately the few but essential benefits such as attracting and sustaining great relationships, prioritizing healthy habits and understanding that one is worthy of love is easy to overlook, so I encourage all to take the road less travelled and see how beautiful you are through the process.
A Story from Anthony…
As I mentioned in the previous post, I grew up in a very unstable environment where the definition of love stood on shaky ground. True, my mother loved me unconditionally, but being separated from my siblings and not having a father-figure in my life made me a prime candidate for a self-defeating attitude in which I had no self-esteem or faith in myself. Being a child from a broken home in the era I grew up in automatically carried with it a negative label that became a burden I felt had to be carried alone. No one knew who I was and it was hard to accept myself as a result.
To some degree I found a way to channel the weight I was carrying into Martial Arts when I was introduced to the Art of Shaolin Kung Fu at the age of 7; it allowed me to feel confident and the strength I felt created a love for something that made me proud. I found purpose in this outlet and it gave me an opportunity to escape from the void I felt as a result of the circumstances I was enduring.
Even though I found a new love for myself through Martial Arts, my circumstances didn’t change. The storms of confusion and a desire to be understood lead me to being silent, evaluating who I could trust which unfortunately was hard to find. I was able to repel the aggression from bullies who were favoured by the teachers thus earning me the label of being a delinquent, leaving me unable to express myself even more.
I felt like I was failing myself. Whatever love I may have gained quickly dissolved when I decided to give in to the identity others defined for me. I became more withdrawn within myself. Eventually, all the safeguards I put in place to keep others from getting too close began to crumble as there came a time where I had to face this Anthony that was always worthy of love even though he felt undeserving.
In wanting to seek a change in myself I was able to gain the love and friendship of others like me, those who endured hard circumstances as I did, yet chose to follow a brighter path than the dark one I was treading. This freely given expression of love on their part finally allowed me to understand what it meant to have Love for Yourself.
I eventually chose to understand this love that seemed so foreign to me. The choice allowed me to have an opportunity to learn from others and even though I remained consistent in being selective with who I listened to and trusted, I surrounded myself with people who could help me acknowledge the qualities, skills and attributes that made me thoughtful, courageous and loveable.
And like I ended Part 1, I will here end Part 2; If I can do it, then without question you can too.
The love for yourself is the most important part of the series as it is the way others will see you, and what you give is in part what you believe you are worthy of receiving. Before building a healthy community and sustaining great health, you need to understand who you are and what you’re able to give people around you.
In these stories you see many commonalities that are more prevalent in our population than we would like to admit. We see that a lack of a nurturing family can result into neglecting the importance or worthiness of self-love. Avoiding the inevitable and uncomfortable process of appreciating one’s attributes, skills or qualities can lead to confusion and an identity that we eventually will become disappointed with thus neglecting ourselves even more.
We will forever struggle with this created identity simply because it is not our natural self. Once we break free from who we are trying to be, and pull ourselves out of the darkness into the light, only then will there be room for self acceptance and self-love.
If someone is worth investing in, you are!
Stay tuned for Part 3, The love for Others!