Exercising Self-love Can Save Your Relationships
“Self-love”, a phrase that is so commonly mentioned, yet it carries such deep meaning that not many can fully grasp. If you think you know what it truly means, think again.
Many people decode Self-Love as a case of taking care of oneself, eating right, having fun or even dressing, but, is that it?
There was a time when the phrase followed me around like a plague. Everywhere I look for advice, Self-love will always show up.
What’s about this phrase that is so life-changing?
Can it really be the cure for our relationship issues?
Against the Norm
The concept of self-love goes against the grain of our common understanding of life, love and relationships. Many of us are taught at a young age to give in to others to make peace. We are also told throughout our living years that the more we give, the more virtuous we are, even if that means sacrificing ourselves, our time and resources.
To a large extent, the act of giving out of kindness is a noble attitude that we all need to cultivate but at what point can this start to hurt our relationships?
Much like the economic law of diminishing returns, we will all reach a point at which the level of returns will become lesser than the amount of energy invested. It is a point that we will start to feel depleted and discontented. This is where we have neglected the love for ourselves because our misguided social conditioning has confused us into thinking that loving others is more important than loving ourselves.
Some may claim to have superhero ability to love and give without limits or boundaries, but with all honesty, most people still need to feel a fair share of affection, rest and wellness to feel balanced and gratified about their lives.
Where You End & Where Others Begin
No, self-love is not a selfish act.
It is the beginning of establishing real relationships with others because by respecting our own needs, we are dealing with others at an equal footing – we neither think we are more than others or less than others.
When we honour ourselves, we can fully love others without the need for recognition or feeling let down when others don’t love us the same way. Interestingly, research has also shown that developing self-love builds resilience and helps one to cope with adversity at a much faster pace!
At times, exercising self-love will require us to relinquish our loved ones for self-preservation, take time out instead of sacrificing for the sake of maintaining a relationship or even create a boundary instead of being all-embracing.
All these seem to go against the traditional idea of how a loving relationship can be preserved. The truth is, we can never truly love another unless we know how to love ourselves first. It is when we can strike a balance between self-care and our relationships that we can prevent burnout and disharmony. When we are fulfilled and content, we can then give to others from a place of joy and happiness.
Most people choose to please others by over-giving and over-extending themselves because traditionally, it is a virtue to be helpful and giving. However, this runs counterintuitive when this over-extension leads to stress and complains. It is not surprising that over time, complaints will amount to grudges and eventually lead to finger-pointing and broken relationships. What’s the point of over-giving then?
Balancing Relationships With a Large Dose of Self-Love
By incorporating self-love into the relationship equation, we ensure that we are sharing with others not from a place of lack but a place of abundance.
Ask yourself these questions:
When you share your love with those near and dear to you, do you feel better doing it when you are well-rested and at ease, or when you are stressed out and exhausted?
Do you feel happier when you are forced to attend a social event or when you have an option to say “No” when you don’t want to?
Exercising self-love in relationships is not about bulldozing your agendas but taking a co-creating stance with your partner. It is about having a voice to say “no” when you have reached your limit. However, a certain level of maturity needs to go into the mix to make it work too, which is why many find it hard to maintain self-love without looking overly selfish or overextending themselves while exercising self-love.
First Steps to Self-Love
When you first embark on the journey of self-love, it is inevitable to receive comments that may tip your balance. Friends and family are so used to your over-giving that when you decide to set the boundaries, they may think you are turning against them.
It is important to understand your limits and start to create a list of where you may have over-extended yourself and how you want to bring back the balance in the relationship. Understand your own emotions when you look at the items that you have listed. If there are negative feelings, honour them but ask yourself how you want to make them better and how you can take control of the situation by not repeating these awful feelings.
It will take time to bring things to a balance, but it will be well worth it. A word of caution: don’t use someone else’s list for yourself because everyone is unique, and everyone’s take on what is a balanced relationship is different. I have met mothers who live very happy lives even when they have to sacrifice their careers for their children, but I have also met working mums who felt unfairly treated when they have to take care of their children and do all the household chores.
Always come from a place of love even when you are launching a full-on ‘Self-Love Revolution’. When you exercise it graciously and lovingly, your relationship partners will definitely learn to work in the same rhythm.
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