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Why it’s important to love yourself first

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It’s important to start loving yourself because if you don’t love yourself then who will?

We often hear from others that it’s important to love yourself. I often ask myself this fundamental question and it’s something that I’m still trying to figure out. For years, I’ve been forcibly addressing it more often than I would like.

The reason that it’s so important to love yourself first is because you will never be able to give what you don’t already have. I know that it’s counterintuitive. The world tells us that we should be giving our all in order to get more. There’s no question about it. You have to be aware that how much or how little of something you can provide to the world does not define your worth.

Some people will tell you that the world needs more and more. Some of those people will also tell you to prove your worth by working harder and harder until you drop dead.

The empty jar analogy

If you don’t fill your jar with love first, there won’t be anything left for other people. It’s as simple as that.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is something I hear over and over from my friends and clients. What I’ve learned from working with them is that the idea of a “full cup” is a little different for everyone. Your full cup might be your family, friends, music, food, or volunteering. It might be reading books, or sleeping in, or yoga, or time with your lover. Whatever that thing is for you, when it’s filling up (even if it’s just a few minutes a day), it means you’re doing something good for yourself and you are full of love to give away to others.

To me, the phrase “fill your cup first” means practicing things like mindfulness meditation, gratitude practices, and exercise in order to accept and love yourself.

Mindfulness meditation

VeryWell Mind defines mindfulness meditation as a mental practice training that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. The training involves deep breathing and awareness of body and mind.

The benefits of mindful meditation include reduced stress, lower heart rate, improved immunity, and better sleep.

Practicing gratitude

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful or the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

There are two components of gratitude, according to Robert Emmons, psychology professor and gratitude researcher at the University of California, Davis:

  1. We affirm the good things we’ve received
  2. We acknowledge the role other people play in providing our lives with goodness

Practicing gratitude has many benefits “including strengthening your immune system and improving sleep patterns, feeling optimistic and experiencing more joy and pleasure, being more helpful and generous, and feeling less lonely and isolated.”

Exercise as self-care

Exercise is also a way to love yourself. Not only does it improve your physical health, it also has a great impact to your mental health and self-esteem.

Exercise can also improve your mood and put you into a more positive state. It’s been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and negative moods as well as alleviate low self-esteem and social withdrawal. In place of these negative emotions, exercise boosts self-esteem and cognitive function.

From a scientific point of view, physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed, providing an emotional lift and reducing stress.

The 10-gallon-sized love

I would like to share a quote from the speech of Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational American megachurch:

There are people amongst us, like you and like me, and many people in this room, who are voluminous. We are 10-gallon people. But we were, we may have been born in the families of people who have pint capacities.

When you are a 10-gallon person, and you want love, you wanted all the 10-gallon level. But a pint person, they could be giving you all they have, sincerely giving you everything but it doesn’t fill you up because you’re bigger than that.

But you must realize, those people – that’s all they’ve got.

When I heard this, it made me think. Why do we demand love from others who are pint-sized love people when we’re capable of providing that love to our self as a 10-gallon-sized love person?

In the desire to fill that love, we demand it from others who can only provide so much. That shouldn’t be the case.

Is self-love selfish?

No, to love yourself is not selfish. In her blog, Shelly Johnson differentiates self-love from selfishness.

According to her, self-love is “is healing and life-giving both to ourselves and to others”. It is empowering. Selfishness, meanwhile, makes us neglect ourselves and especially others.

Loving yourself can be difficult and uncomfortable sometimes. Years of being brainwashed of putting others first can honestly trigger the guilt when you pay attention to your needs. But you can still love others when you love yourself first, and that is very important to remember at all times.

4 Comments

  1. Patrick Ocampo Patrick Ocampo June 6, 2021

    Very nice! We all need to remember to take care of ourselves, especially during these times, and not just practicing health safety protocols.

    Sometimes some people (maybe myself included at one point) thought I could give others what I don’t give to myself, but on some subconscious level that shows, and that’s why self-love is important first!

    I needed to hear this today! Thanks!

    • 99 YellowCars 99 YellowCars Post author | June 6, 2021

      Thanks for visiting my blog! Glad I’m able to help

  2. Shelly Johnson Shelly Johnson June 6, 2021

    Hey Friend, Thanks for the mention of my blog! I like what you are doing here. Cheers!

    • 99 YellowCars 99 YellowCars Post author | June 6, 2021

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog, I am honored. And thank you for your wonderful insights also.

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