After my 5-year relationship with my first boyfriend, I blamed myself for the things I could have done differently. I begged and pleaded for him to give me another chance but he chose someone else. I've done some thinking and asked advice from my friends on how to move forward. They all told me to follow this age-old advice, "Love yourself". At first, I don't have any idea what it means. Is it about going to a spa and pampering myself? Is it about having a shopping spree? Is it about putting myself high in a pedestal and treat myself like a queen? Is it about putting myself first at all times and be selfish to others?
I was so confused why one has to love himself or herself if he or she is already capable of loving others. Because for me, to truly love someone means giving 100% to that person without expecting anything in return. Love is about giving, right?
My friends said that I cannot pour from an empty cup but I was able to love someone so much who did not love me back. It was after a series of break ups and make ups. I sold myself short for so many times just to force him to stay in my life. I turned a blind eye from all the lies and even disobeyed my parents just to be with him.
To help me in my healing, I read some books and I finally realized why loving oneself should always be a priority and what it really means.
Being gentle with myself: After the breakup, I tend to go over the mistakes that I committed and beat myself up for what happened and what I should have done differently. I tried to change myself to be loved back. I even hated myself when I felt depressed, angry and hurt because for me, it's a sign of weakness. I became too hard on myself. But eventually, I learned to make peace with myself and to be with my emotions rather than fighting it. I started to make positive self-talks, befriended myself, and embraced my feelings. I accepted myself and my emotions as they are, and stopped looking at myself as a weak person.
Forgiving myself: I learned to forgive myself so that I could forgive others and others could forgive me as well. I learned to embrace my flaws and my mistakes. I took them as lessons and room for improvement to become a better person in the future.
My worth as a person does not depend on others: The hardest lesson I ever learned so far. My ex boyfriend chose someone else over me. I was so hurt and I kept asking myself what was wrong with me and what's in her that made him choose her. I lost my self-esteem big time. I convinced myself that I'm not worthy of being chosen by someone. But after some time and after being surrounded by my group of friends, I realized that not everyone will love me or choose me and it's okay. I have people in my life who genuinely love me and that's more than enough. We all have preferences and if I wasn't chosen, it does not make me less of a person. If someone rejected me, it doesn't speak of my worth and it doesn't mean that I'm not worthy of being loved.
Being whole as a person: I also learned that I don't have to be in a relationship to be complete. I have to be complete first as a person so that I don't have to rely on other people. I have to find love within me so that I can share it with someone else instead of looking for love from other people and use it to make me feel complete.
Knowing what I deserve: The ultimate meaning of self love. I tolerated my ex-boyfriend for so many times. He said hurtful words, cheated on me, but I was always forgiving him and letting things slide. It was when he chose someone else that I decided to stop chasing him and asked myself, "Is this the kind of love that I deserve?" Even though it was very painful to me, I learned to let go and believed that I deserve better than being just someone's option. There are so many people in the world. Finding the right man or woman is like finding a good company to work for. There will always be some that will overlook your worth but there will be others that will treat you as an asset.
When I learned all these things, I started to heal, became a better woman and I stopped settling for loveless and dead relationships. I gained my confidence back, I weeded out emotionally unavailable and toxic men and I knew what love is really all about, loving yourself first then loving others.