THE BLOG
08/15/2012 10:11 am ET | Updated Oct 15, 2012

A Lesson In Affection: When Winning Love is a Losing Proposition

In relationships, some of us give for all the wrong reasons. We give to make up for feelings of low self-worth hoping that if we do enough to prove ourselves we will avoid rejection and earn love. This never works.

Ask yourself: "When it comes to relationships, what am I giving and why am I giving it?"
If our self esteem is low, we don't recognize our own inherent value and when we undervalue ourselves, we always sell ourselves short. We begin to believe that we have to "do something" to be worthy of love and affection. In other words, we believe that simply being ourselves is not enough.

In giving to others from a place of doubting that who we are is 'enough', we may inadvertently begin to barter for love. This is different from the healthy give and take in relationships. In this case, we give out of a sense that we have to make up for something we lack - and we give even if it takes an unhealthy toll on our reserves of energy, time or money.

The thinking goes something like this: "If I support him enough he will grow to love me," or "if I shower her with expensive gifts, she will love and want me." And the giving is done from a place of unworthiness and in the hope that what we are offering will make us loveable. Giving in this way undermines our personal power and can fuel feelings of frustration, anger, self-pity and resentment.

From my perspective all relationships begin with us and are a reflection of the internal dynamic we have with ourselves. Relationships ultimately show us the reality of our deepest feelings about ourselves. If we find ourselves experiencing emotional pain often in intimate relationships, the pain is asking us to take a look at how we really feel about ourselves. Somewhere in the recesses of the subconscious mind is a belief that we are unworthy on some level.

When we truly love ourselves first, we recognize that the only way to get love is to radiate it from within. To be loveable we must first find a way to love ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, it shows and when we love ourselves, other people feel it and are inspired to reciprocate it.

Giving from a place of self-love is first and foremost an outward expression of our feelings of wellbeing, satisfaction, joy and appreciation for ourselves AND it is an empowering experience for both the giver and receiver. How can we generate and attract love, rather than trying to convince people to love us by making inappropriate trade-offs in the hopes of winning affection?

1. Take the time, energy and effort spent trying to convince people to love you and redirect it towards yourself. Support yourself, advocate for yourself, be generous with yourself, LOVE yourself! Take time to cultivate self-love each and every day. This can happen through affirmations, self-help books, therapy, cultivating a mind/body/spirit practice such as meditation and a host of other creative ways to honor and cherish the most important person in your life; YOU!

  1. At least once a day, look in the mirror, gaze deeply into your own eyes and tell yourself: "I am worthy, smart, beautiful and loveable." Even if you doubt your words at first, over time and with an earnest commitment to yourself, you will begin to grow into the truth of your words.
  2. Ask your Source/God/Creator to help you see yourself the way It sees you. I believe in a loving Creator who makes no mistakes. You are perfect just the way you are, even with your flaws. Understanding this gives you permission to work and grow in those areas that need self-improvement with a spirit of unconditional love for yourself.
  3. When you give, pay attention to how it feels. Do you feel free and joyful? If so you are on the right track. Or do you feel heavy, desperate or afraid that if you don't give, you will be rejected? If this is the case, you are giving from a wounded place, so take a time out to stop, reevaluate and begin to practice loving and caring for yourself.
  4. Work with a behavioral therapist or life coach to support you in learning how to establish and practice appropriate giving to yourself and others.

To love and be loved is our birthright. Love in its purest form simply is - it is neither given nor received, instead it is a gift to be discovered and allowed. Discover your love for yourself. Grow it like a plant in your garden and then share the fruits of your discovery from a place of joyful abundance.

Listen to Akoshia's prescriptions for improved relationships every Saturday at 7pm EST, on WHCR 90.3 FM New York, or streaming live at www.whcr.org when she presents her segment "Today's Lesson on the show "A Lesson In Affection," airing Saturdays from 6 - 8 pm EST with host Mark Lo playing the best in love songs. Podcasts are available at http://lessoninaffection.podomatic.com