You may not believe me. I’m sorry, but you need to hear this. You are worthy of love. Not just some romantic love from someone else, or the parental love you may or may not have felt growing up. No, I’m talking about the love of self. You don’t want to hear it. I know. You’d rather go on believing that life is unfair, and that it’s not worth fighting for a better life for yourself. But that’s not a lesson I will ever validate for you. You deserve more. We all deserve more. You are worthy of love and affection from yourself.
You probably put everyone else first as a result, right? If you don’t have needs, then nobody will feel you’re a burden. They won’t shun you then. Take care of everyone else, and they will appreciate you more and love you more.
But where does that leave you? Tired. Out of control. Reaching for something that will help take the stress off. You may exercise like a fiend. Or perhaps eat that entire box of Frosted Flakes when everyone’s asleep. You may avoid eating so you can take care of everything for everyone else and then binge because you’re starved.
Perhaps you’re the person who hears the flight attendant say, “Be sure to put your oxygen mask on first, and then assist those around you,” and you say, “Yeah, right.” You intend to get up and go up and down the plane making sure everyone else is secure and has their oxygen on before you bother with your own safety.
You do these things because you love others deeply. You want to be loved deeply by others as well. But somehow, it’s not working. Why? It’s not because you’re not lovable. It’s because you’re not believable. It requires courage and dedication to do the hard work to admit to your faults, share your strengths, and convincingly shout to the world, “I am here and I am ready for life, love and happiness!”
If you want to get started on that path, you have to admit to yourself that this is a problem. You have to admit that food, exercise, alcohol, pot, or whatever else you’re using as a substitute for love and self-care is not working. Simply put, you have to put yourself first.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, CEO at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.