- 18.08.2017, 09:09
Parents often forget that their children need nothing more than unconditional love. Shutterstock
Imagine there is this one miracle cure that can improve all your relationships. It makes you more lovable, more successful, more loyal, more satisfied. It makes you do your jobs better and more efficiently than ever before. It makes you see your friendships and love relationships from a whole new perspective.
You think there’s no such thing? Oh yes, there is: it is called self-love.
Before you think of something like “Huh? egoism should make everything better”, let’s make one thing clear: Self-love has nothing to do with self-love or even narcissism. Self-love means that you say yes to yourself. That one is at peace with oneself.
Confused? OK, then let’s try it differently: How many times have you done something you dislike just to please others? Yes, you have done that because you are not close enough to yourselves and therefore need confirmation from others.
Self-love must develop in childhood
“Self-love doesn’t mean you revolve around yourself. Quite the opposite. Most of our relationships fail because we don’t love ourselves enough,” says psychiatrist Michael Lehofer in an interview with Business Insider. Lehofer recently published the book “Mit mir sein” (“Be with me”).
His thesis: Because many people cannot love themselves, they seek confirmation from others – in people and in material things. “We exploit others correctly and want their love and esteem at all costs, instead of seeking them in ourselves.
The great misunderstanding of self-love already begins in childhood: self-love arises, as Lehofer is convinced, when we are unconditionally loved by our parents and the people around us. This is by no means always the case. Because in order to prepare children for life, parents often mistakenly attach their love to conditions. We have to be good, obedient, ambitious and nice, otherwise our parents don’t love us.
“We want to be good to the conditions, because then the dad, the mum, the internalized parents promise us affection,” writes t Lehofer in his book. By inter nalized parents, the psychiatrist means the traces of relationships that our parents leave in us throughout our lives and that we project onto others. One could now say that our parents are to blame if we don’t love ourselves, but in truth this is exactly the crux of unconditional love: If parents haven’t received them yet, how can they pass them on?
And that affects our whole lives. Lehofer believes that egotism or narcissism result from a lack of self-love.
An example: Behind the unscrupulous ambition of a top manager hides the secret fear of not being recognized. And this recognition from others is intended to compensate for a lack of self-love. Or to put it another way: because he can’t love himself, others have to acknowledge him. “If he loved himself it would not be the ascent that matters to him, but the cause. That is, what is best for the company and for the employees,” explains Lehofer.
“I’ve grown tired of wanting to be great.”
People who want to be loved by everyone at all costs are very often those who love themselves least.
The desire for a lot of money and materialism is also connected with this: “We buy and buy because we think that we are then more desirable, actually more lovable. But the truth is: it will never be enough if we don’t start to love ourselves at some point”.
The good news is: Lehofer is not of the opinion that self-love cannot be learned again later. Because at some point in life everyone has at least experienced beginnings of unconditional love and can fall back on it. “We simply have to question ourselves. We can also consult a friend who is close to us.”
Let us take the unscrupulous manager again as an example: he can ask himself why he acts like this. Does he do this because he wants recognition? Why does he need this recognition? Isn’t it enough if he knows it was a good thing for the company?
“I myself have given up trying to be super,” says Lehofer. “When I used to give a lecture, I thought it was about the listeners saying afterwards: ‘But he talked great. In truth, it’s about the users taking the best with them. That should be my only claim.”
Self-love can prevent stress
In this respect, self-love also has to do with finding the right priorities in life. Why do I want to be successful? Because I want to do what I do best for the benefit of others (and myself) – or because I absolutely want to be admired by others. This is exactly where the fallacy lies: I will never be able to do a thing in the best possible way if I act according to selfish motives.
“Particularly in the business world, the word ‘optimize’ often plays a role. But the truth is: the self-lover always acts optimally. I affirm myself and give my best.”
And that is exactly what would eradicate the greatest social problems of our time: permanent stress and excessive demands. For it is precisely these problems that arise when I want to give more than I can find in myself. Someone who is close to himself knows what he can and cannot expect of himself.
And there is something else, as the psychiatrist stresses: “Love makes you calm because it gives you security. So when I love myself, I give myself security and become calmer. Of it profi ti ere not only I myself, but all around me .”
It is a fatal development in our society that self-love is frowned upon and confused with egoism, while stress is quasi en vogue. One would be the solution for the other.