Why you need to love yourself
Do you often feel unappreciated?
“I’m a very nice person. I’m a good guy and I do nice things for people, but they never seem to appreciate me, and I feel angry about that,” said Martin in one of our first phone sessions.
For me, this statement holds much information regarding how Martin was trying to control others and make them responsible for him, and how much he was abandoning himself.
Let’s analyze this statement.
“I’m a very nice person. I’m a good guy and I do nice things for people…”
Being nice and being loving are often two different things. When Martin was being nice to get appreciation, and then feeling angry when he didn’t receive the appreciation he was seeking, his niceness was a form of control to get the validation he wanted from others. He was handing his Self – his inner child – to others to define, and when they didn’t define him the way he wanted, he felt angry at them. But the anger was really Martin’s inner child’s anger at him for making others responsible for his self-worth. When niceness has an agenda attached, it means that it is manipulative.
Loving is very different. Loving means that you are being caring without any expectations attached regarding how another should respond. It means that you are being nice because it makes you feel good inside, rather than to get appreciation from others.
“…they never seem to appreciate me, and I feel angry about that.”
This statement indicates that Martin was needy of appreciation because he had not learned the importance and power of appreciating himself.
What Martin was doing instead of appreciating himself was judging himself harshly. This made him feel inadequate, so he then needed others’ approval and appreciation to feel that he was okay. His self-judgment was a form of self-rejection, which made him vulnerable to rejection from others.
The Power of Self-Appreciation
Martin needed to learn to value his true Self – his soul essence. When I asked him to tell me what he values about himself, he said, “I’m smart. I’m caring. And sometimes I have a good sense of humor. I’m a hard worker and I have a lot of integrity regarding my work.”
The problem was that Martin never thought to tell himself these good things about himself. Instead, he was quick to tell himself what he did wrong.”
- “You sounded stupid just now.”
- “You are not good enough. You are inadequate. If you were adequate, you would be in a loving relationship.”
- “You make a mistake. What’s the matter with you?”
I encouraged Martin to be aware of his self-judgments – without judging himself for judging himself! – so that he could gradually stop treating himself with this self-rejecting behavior. I encouraged him to mirror to his inner child his positive qualities instead, such as saying throughout the day:
- You are so smart. Thanks for the great idea.
- You were so kind to that person. Any woman would be lucky to have such a kind partner as you.
- Mistakes are just learning experiences. They don’t say anything about your worth or adequacy.
As Martin practised appreciating himself rather than rejecting himself, he found his need for others’ appreciation gradually diminishing. Along with this, he was no longer angry at others when they didn’t show appreciation. And, surprising to him, he found others appreciating him more. When others didn’t feel that his ‘niceness’ demanded appreciation, they no longer felt resistant toward him. They were now free to experience his giving as genuine caring rather than as controlling behavior which they needed to resist.
[Margaret Paul Relationship Toolbox]