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I cannot adequately express my thanks for the perspective on life and on myself that Wendy Dolber has helped me awaken to during the past few months. …

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Love the one you're with: you!

[ Jan 13, 2014 ] [ by Wendy Dolber ]

Love you much? What do you think about you? Would you say you're your kind of person? Does thinking about you put a warm glow in your heart? Are you okay with you? In love with you? Your own best friend?

Or, is that little jury in your inner courtroom always in session? Are you constantly judging and nagging, name-calling and chastising? Are you holding yourself at arm's length until a better you comes along?

Withholding love and acceptance for another day? Another lifetime? How's that going?

Does it matter whether we love ourselves or not? Isn't that the job of others? Surely that's one way of looking at it. But is it even possible to feel love, accept love, enjoy the love of others if we don't love ourselves first? And when we withhold love from ourselves, don't we often treat others the same way? Not a good set-up for healthy, happy relationships is it?

Of course it matters if we love ourselves – on so many levels. Not because we want to be loved. Not even because we want to be loving. There's something even much bigger at stake.

Our personal happiness depends on it. Or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, there is no real happiness without self-love. Lucky for us, we all come equipped from the factory with self-loving apparatus in place. And the warranty – well, that never expires.

Are you a self-love machine?

We all know what it means to love another person, right? You know, feel good about them. Want them to be happy. Want the best for them. Enjoy seeing them happy and smiling. Be there for them. What's your idea of love?

Now, what does it mean to love ourselves? Is it really any different than loving another person – with the obvious difference that when we love ourselves, we are both the lover and the beloved? Chances are the rules we have for loving others apply to ourselves as well. Especially when it comes to when we give or withhold love. If we hold back from loving others when they make mistakes, isn't it likely that we'd treat ourselves the same way?

If you want to love yourself more, find out where you stand with you. Have a heart to heart. Find out where you withhold love and imagine what it would be like to love yourself under any circumstances. What do you think you'd be giving up? Look at all the times you get frustrated with you, or angry or disappointed. How does that affect your self-esteem? Are you laboring under the negative spell of your own judgments? What if you were to declare a truce on all transgressions? Do you have the right to do that?

Explore also how you feel about the concept of loving yourself. Are you wondering if it's wrong to be too high on yourself? Doesn't a healthy measure of skepticism keep you on the straight and narrow? Keep you from being deluded and self-defeating? Weren't we taught that being humble is a virtue? And what if there is a nascent egotist or narcissist just waiting for a chance to emerge?

These are all good questions that reveal some of the common beliefs we have about loving ourselves. If we believe self-love is harmful, we aren't likely to open ourselves up to it. If we do have these beliefs, it's a perfect opportunity to dispel our own myths about self-love and get in touch with what we would really value in loving ourselves.

What's in a name?

How do you feel when you say your name? Go ahead, say it: Cindy, Peter, Shakeisha, Jack, Melanie, Tyrone, Billy, Angela, Garima. Does it run off your tongue or stick in your throat? Marvin, Irene, Sammy, Andrea, Lisa, Xavier, Antonio. Do you shrink away from the sound of your own name on your lips? Or do you like hearing your name? Love hearing it? Margaret, Penny, Hyman, Sylvia, Howie, Susan, Leonardo, Nelly, Frank. What feelings about you does saying your name bring up? Is it that warm and cozy feeling reserved for special loved ones, or does it bring up instant discomfort? Even dislike?

While it is superficial, how we feel when we say our name can give an inkling of how we feel about ourselves. Unless of course, your parents, in a fit of misplaced creativity, saddled you with a name like Cantstandya, or Dontbothame. You've got other problems.

I remember a time when I didn't like the sound of my own name ... before I became the me I am today. It was back in the days before I fell in love with myself, before I became crazy about myself, before I truly became my own best friend.

It wasn't that I didn't like myself. I was okay with me, but I held myself at arm's length. My name and my concept of myself were infused with childhood beliefs about who I was ... what I was capable of ... what I lacked ... how loved I was ... how smart ... how talented ... how pretty ... how coordinated. Oy!

If loving me is wrong, I don't want to be right

Everything changed for me when I learned something I had simply not understood before. Loving – yourself or anyone else – is being happy. Being happy, period. And being happy with yourself. For me, this made it so easy to love myself – naturally and effortlessly.

It made this vast complex emotion, which is so central to all of our lives, very clear to me.

If loving is being happy, and being happy with ourselves and others, how could it ever be wrong?

It just so happens that when people realize they have a choice in their emotions, it makes a differe…

It just so happens that when people realize they have a choice in their emotions, it makes a difference to them. People know they don’t want to be unhappy when they don’t believe it is necessary.

[ Bruce Di Marsico ]