What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Published: July 27, 2012
How to love yourself first!
“Self-love is the only permanent weight-loss ingredient available to mankind.” I think I heard Jenny Craig say this about 20 years ago . . . but I had no idea what she was talking about at the time!
Twenty years ago, I was a embarking on my 20s. I was angry and sweet, all rolled into one. I was insecure, disconnected, and completely unconscious. I walked through life half-asleep. I got more attention than I knew what to do with, and yet could never understand what people were looking at. I had no self-love. I despised a million things about my body and face. I walked through life thinking that everything was exactly as it looked: Weight problems were about food, alcoholics drank too much, and playboys simply loved women.
I had never written in a journal. I had never asked myself questions like:
Why did I care so much that people liked me?
When was I happiest?
What inspired me?
What held me back?
What was I afraid of?
And most important, who was I?
When I heard people talk about loving themselves, I felt angry. To me, it was only selfish women who abandoned their children, who would say things like, “I have to love myself first!” It was only neglectful fathers who quoted lines like, “If you don’t please yourself, you can never please anyone else.” To me, self-love was a cop-out for selfish narcissism!
By the time I was 25, I was married with two precious daughters. I’d decided that the needs of my family came before my self-seeking needs as a woman. I decided that the needs of the “unit” had to come before the needs of any one person within that unit.
For a few years, I was happier than I’d ever been. I had more love in one day from my children than any amount of love I’d ever received over the course of my life, from everyone combined.
Nevertheless, my weight continued to climb and I’d find myself sometimes crying for no reason. I couldn’t understand why with a husband, two great kids, and a beautiful home on the water, I couldn’t sustain my happiness.
I watched a lot of TV late at night, once the kids were sleeping. An ice-cream sundae was much better than sex. I hated my clothes. I didn’t want anyone to see me from “before.”
I was up.
I was down.
I was happy.
I was sad.
I convinced myself that if I lost weight, renovated the kitchen, got a new engagement ring (we’d married young and didn’t have much money), and purchased the latest-model mini-van, I’d surely find and maintain my happiness.
But it never happened.
Sure! I did lose the weight, renovate, got a new huge diamond, and a top-of-the-line SUV, but they’d all only sustained my joy for a period of time.
Eventually, I’d find myself staring off into space wondering, “What’s next?”
After leaving my husband, walking away from all my material possessions, and setting out to prove to the world that I was smart, successful, and yes, loveable, I self-published my first book. I was certain extreme happiness would soon find me.
The rollercoaster prevailed.
It was time I stopped chasing, racing, running, and climbing and finally, looked within.
Do you know what I found?
A wonderful, loving, scared, broken, misguided, desperate-for-love woman who’d been (as Waylon Jennings sang) “looking for love in all the wrong places”. It was time I learned how to love myself.
It was time I healed my own broken little girl, made peace with her past, forgave her parents (even if 20 years later they were still hurting her), set stronger boundaries, and began treating her with dignity, respect, and gentleness.
It was time I integrated all the fragmented parts of my personality: the perfect mother and wife, the sexy seductress, fitness expert, party girl, nutritionist, book worm, saint, and sinner. I realized that I couldn’t like some parts of me, while rejecting the rest of myself. I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself. I had to learn who I really was!
I had to ask my children to forgive me for leaving their father. I had to ask my ex-husband to forgive me for hurting him.
I had to let go of my shame, guilt, fear, and blame.
I had to surrender my need to please, impress, and outdo everyone . . . especially myself.
I had to learn to love me . . . in spite of myself.
I had to learn to love my fat, my faults, my mania, my depression, my wrinkles, and my mistakes, so that I could stop exerting so much energy into hiding.
It was time to shine light on all my great qualities, without being afraid someone would discover my bad ones.
It was time I stepped into integrity, forgave myself for the ways I’d let myself and others down, and made the decision that my past didn’t predict my future any more than the bumps and valleys behind my car influenced the road ahead of me.
Living with self-love isn’t about forgetting about those you (once claimed to) love. It isn’t about having abs of steel, a monstrous bank account, or hundreds of friends and admirers (although these things might arrive once you do love yourself!).
Self-love is about living in alignment with who you really are: A divine, special, holy child of God—pure, innocent, passionate, trusting, loving, forgiving, courageous, and fearless—worthy of a great life!
Self-love is not a noun . . . it’s a verb. It’s journey that never ends.
Crystal Andrus is the one of North America’s most dynamic health and fitness experts, motivational speakers, and is a leading authority on balancing a woman's work, family, and personal well-being. Author of the bestselling book, Simply...Woman! The 12 Week BODY-MIND-SOUL Total Transformation Program, she has helped thousands transform their bodies—and lives.