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Living

To love others, you must love yourself

To love others, you must love yourself

by Christian Michael

April 29, 2019


There's a practice among Korean parents to call their children ugly and fat. In earlier religious traditions, Koreans believed that beautiful children would be snatched away, and so, to show their love, they destroyed their children's hearts.

I've met several Korean girls raised this way, and these beautiful women are blinded to their own worth. This has colored their internal decision making, leading to poor choices in men, depression and constant relationship troubles. The lack of personal value is evident and tragic. The most difficult part about self-value issues -- which we all face in different ways -- is its effect on the ears of our heart; we don't believe others' praise. We don't believe the good things, only the bad.

When we are attracted to the wrong kind of man or woman, we wonder "what's wrong with us." Ironically, what is wrong is that we never seem to see what's right. As broken people, we seek after unhealthy things to fill in the gaps and cracks formed during our younger years by poor parenting, well-meaning but mistaken parenting (all of us have something to deal with from our parents), or tragedies which supersede our parents' ability to protect and heal.

Most tragic of all is how our broken nature skews our idea of healthy love. The very behavior which hurt us while growing up is what attracts us -- that or it's direct opposite, which is not always a healthy choice. Women who believe they have no value are attracted to men who treat them like they have no value. That which they feel will sate the hungers of their brokenness is the very thing perpetuating it.

What unhealthy thing are you attracted to? Badboys, risk takers, rebels? Sweets, candies and overloaded carbs? Romance novels and pornography? Drugs and hard drinking?

What healthy thing are you attracted to in an unhealthy way? Too much working out? Too much dieting? Too much time at work? Too much volunteering at church or the local Y?

To solve this problem, we think we just need to find "the right man/woman" who will finally love us the way we need and we'll change. The hard truth is that you've passed the kind of person who would love you in a healthy way, but you don't find them attractive. You are attracted to the broken, because ultimately your subconscious seeks what it thinks is love, even if that means finding someone who continues to hurt you. To your subconscious, that IS love.

The mind may know the difference, but the heart is a fickle, deceptive creature which must be corralled.

Finding real, healthy love first requires a change of heart, but it cannot come from someone else -- this must first happen within you. You choose to love yourself and appreciate your own value. This change must occur BEFORE you can expect to build a healthy relationship with someone. Even if you're in a relationship with someone, already, if you expect to improve that relationship, you must first find your own value.

Otherwise, you won't know how to fight for what you need. How can you demand respect from others when you don't even know how to offer it to yourself? You have no real idea of what is worthy of respect because you don't respect yourself. You don't know your own value, and no amount of others telling it to you will change that.

You must make the decision -- a deliberate action -- to choose to believe that you have value. You cannot wait for the world to tell you "you are valuable" -- that's a long wait for a train don't come. Only you can embrace your value before you can hope the world will see it in you. By then, you won't need the world's validation like you used to, and your value will grow independent of others.

That is truly a beautiful place to be.

If you don't know where to start on that journey of finding your value, here are a few methods that can help. Understand, however, that life is a journey. You won't fix this in one evening, so move forward knowing that change takes time.

First, I will always recommend seeking out salvation and purpose in God. According to the Bible, each of us is beautifully and wonderfully made for a purpose. Finding your purpose and place in Jesus can help you set the value of your life outside your circumstances and into timeless truths of who God is, what He has done for us and what you can do to be a part of his family and freedom. If you don't believe in God, consider picking up "A Case for Christ." If you do believe in God, I've been reading the "New Morning Mercies" devotional, recently. I recommend it.

Second, change your inner language. Listen to your thoughts for when negative thoughts rise up. Perhaps upon seeing an attractive man or woman, you immediately think about how you're "not worthy" of them. Capture that thought and put it to the question. "WHY not?" Put the lie about your worthlessness in its place, because that's what those thoughts are -- LIES. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. They don't have to be all happy and shiny,

because sometimes life just sucks. But replace it with something positive. Maybe you're not as tall or as pretty or as curvy or as muscular as you'd like. What IS good about you? Maybe you're really smart or funny. Perhaps you're really nice or have a great gift at sarcasm. Embrace what you do like about yourself and replace negative thoughts with good ones. It will take time, but this will become easier.

Lastly, practice gratitude. Contentment will never come from getting more -- it always comes by being happy with what you have right now. You can still have ambition and a plan to get that new job, new home, new car, new relationship, but where are you RIGHT NOW? Do you have a home? Warm, dry bed? Electricity? A vehicle? A job that at least helps you get by? Do you have the opportunity, today, to change things? Do you still have teeth? Are you fed? Look to the simple things and appreciate the fact that not everyone has even these. People around the world starve, are enslaved, bound in the sex trade, are rotting in prison for things they didn't do, are oppressed by governments which don't allow them to exercise free speech or practice of religion. What do YOU have worth being grateful for? Exercise gratitude to help put your eyes and your heart in the perspective of contentment. While you may not have everything you want, I guarantee you that you, reading this on the internet, are guaranteed to have it better off than many people around the world in many ways. Your misery may come from you hoping for too much to happen too soon and appreciating too little.

You are valuable. You are worthy. You have purpose. You are not perfect by the world's standards, which are lies and impossible. You are beautiful for who and what you are on the inside. It's okay to still seek the love of another, but understand that others' love is best as an addendum to your own, not a filler or replacement.

LOVE YOURSELF, NOW. It's honestly the love you've always sought, and it's been inside of you all along.

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