relationships & self love

This is quite a difficult blog post for me to write as this is something that I really struggle with but that I work extremely hard on in my therapy. For as long as I can remember I have always searched for love from other people, and I have never given myself enough. However now I believe that relationships can’t truly be developed healthily until you make your own happiness a priority. A lot of the time I find myself wanting love from others, to run away from loneliness, to ease the pain of a past relationship, and because I haven’t quite mastered how to love myself and put my needs first when it comes to being in a relationship. In this post I’m going to share with you a bit more on what I think about relationships and self love and how the two are connected. Whether it be romantic relationships, or friendships, the way we treat ourselves will always be reflected in the quality of our relationships.

Reflecting on my past romantic relationships, I know that struggled to give myself enough respect, attention and love, and I therefor became extremely clingy and needy in that relationship. But also, the things we dislike about ourselves end up becoming huge barriers in our relationships, and I found I was blaming myself for a lot of issues that quite frankly were not always about me, but about the other person, and not only does this result in you feeling flawed but it can push the other person away. I have always been extremely giving, but perhaps in some ways too giving. I had so much love to give, but I didn’t want to give any of this to myself, so it all got heavily thrown on the person I was in a relationship with. Not only does this create a unhealthy relationship dynamic because your partner can often feel superior to you because they know that you are weak, but you can become suffocating and although you come with the best of intentions, it can often result in the other person needing space from you.

I have learned it’s best to give yourself compassion, don’t get me wrong it’s extremely difficult! I still struggle each day, I have spent the past 5 years of my life constantly picking out my imperfections and feeling like I am never going to be good enough, but slowly I am learning to accept myself with all of my flaws and give myself understanding and kindness, to not fill my mind with negative feelings about who I am and to not harshly judge myself. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my physical appearance does not define me, I am a good person just as I am, and I am enough. It’s hard to love yourself when you are constantly looking for more, not skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, popular enough and the list goes on. Sometimes you may even feel like you have to change to fit in or hide parts of yourself to please other people. I’ve recently learnt a lot about shame, from an amazing researcher called Brené Brown, she has a variety of books and audiobooks and has done an incredible ted talks also. She has opened my eyes to how much shame stands in the way of life and relationships. “Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed and never good enough.” She describes her her definition of shame as the fear of being unlovable, the intensely painful feeling or experience a believing that we are flawed and therefor unworthy of love and belonging. Shame is a huge barrier blocking us from loving ourselves, which ultimately causes unhealthy relationships.

I think the best thing we can all try and do in life to find happiness is to try and give up on the idea of being perfect, and work on becoming the best version of ourselves. Shame and perfection are so closely linked, if you are experiencing shame and the feeling of never being good enough, you most likely are constantly seeking for more and trying to be perfect so that you will finally be good enough. I think that when you get into a place where you truly like yourself for who you are you’ll believe you truly deserve happiness. You will start to not tolerate certain behaviours from other people, you will seek less approval from others, you will be kinder to yourself and more forgiving. You’re then aware that you deserve better, or more. You wont have as many holes to fill within yourself. That’s definitely always been an issue for me, I have suffered from what feels like a very deep dark hole inside me that I have always covered up or filled with love from other people, rather than giving to myself, meaning that when relationships fail or end that hole is apparent again, but very empty, leaving me filled with shame. If you have low self esteem, often you will underestimate your partners love for you, and be less satisfied with your relationship or your future together because you are not convinced that you are a good person. Because I was so used to not having enough self love and self acceptance, I ended up expecting so little from relationships, and often found myself in relationships that didn’t give me enough of what I truly needed, but even so, I accepted it and felt satisfied because I didn’t believe I deserved more than what I was receiving, which in a lot of cases wasn't enough at all.

We all have to learn to forgive ourselves, it’s so easy to just sit in bed at night and think about all the bad things we’ve done in life, all the mistakes we’ve made, all the things we feel guilty about, all the opportunities we didn’t take and so on. But the simple reality is, we will never be able to change the past, and thinking about it will only make us miserable. As I’ve mentioned before, learning from your past is very important, although we can’t fix what we have done in our past, we can chose not to let it define us, and instead use it as a lesson in life, and try to be better for the future. Remember that we are all are human, we fuck up sometimes, we are allowed to get things wrong and make mistakes and do things we feel bad about sometimes, but its the way you come back from this that really matters. In the past few months I believe I have grown emotionally and have been working so hard on self acceptance and I am really focusing on how I can create a better, brighter and more positive future for myself. Being not too long out of a relationship I think it's really important for me to use this time to learn how to love myself properly, not just bits and pieces, all of me, and accept myself the way I am and make positive change. When I came out of a relationship this time last year I did the complete opposite, I didn’t want to feel the pain of a break up and tried to cover up that pain by going out and seeking love and approval from other people, which in the long run made me feel much worse, because as I always say if you don’t grieve, you can never move forward. I am proud of myself for choosing to focus on myself, and learning to love myself first this time, I am putting me first, because I deserve it! I hope this blog post can inspire you to do the same if you are suffering from any similar issues.

I hope this can inspire you to try and love and accept yourself a bit more. It won’t happen straight away, I don’t think people just wake up one day and decide that they love themselves, but over time it happens, and taking small steps will ultimately lead to a beautiful growth and I hope you will be brighter and happier. Sending love and positivity always.

Emma xxx