Someone asked me this week, "What is the one piece of dating advice you can give that is guaranteed to work?" It didn't take me long at all to answer this. It did, however, take me a long time to figure it out.
We are inundated with dating and relationship advice in books, seminars, webinars, columns, therapists, movies, television and the ever-present and mostly unsolicited advice from our married friends. However, before we can ever begin to follow any rules or advice, we must absolutely implement this one simple, yet so profound step. It is guaranteed to work. I promise that your relationships will change for the better.
This one step sounds so simple and may even be laughable to some. It's often overlooked. It's easier said than done. Ready?
Love yourself first. That's it. Love yourself before anyone else.
I know many of you may be thinking the exact same thing I thought when I first heard this. Of course I love myself. But how many times do we beat ourselves up for wrong decisions we've made? Or judge ourselves over how much we weigh? Or put ourselves down because we're not where we thought we'd be at a certain age in life? Or stay angry with ourselves because we broke a promise we said we'd keep to ourselves? Being gentle and forgiving with ourselves is the first step in loving ourselves first.
Think of yourself as a little 8-year-old girl. Would you talk to her the same way you talk to yourself now? Probably not. You would want to hold that little girl in your arms, telling her it's OK. Giving her compliments and encouragement. Telling her she is beautiful and strong. Telling her we all make mistakes and we learn and grow and do better from them.
If you are yearning for love in your life, how much love are you giving yourself? You want attention from a man, but how much attention are you giving yourself, doing the things that bring you joy in life? You wish your man would give you more compliments, but how many times do you compliment yourself?
We are taught that being selfish is a bad thing. That we should think of others first. But as my wonderful mentor and intuitive healer Teresa Brandise has taught me, airline flight attendants tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before putting one on a child for a reason. We can't take care of another until we take care of ourselves first. And we can never expect to receive love from another unless we love ourselves first. So we learn that becoming "self-ish," being loving to ourselves first, is a good thing!
All the love we ever need is truly inside of us. Once we are able to connect to that love, we become magnets drawing in others that also love themselves as much as we love ourselves. And that's where the magic happens. We no longer look to others to complete us (thank you, Jerry Maguire, for making us think otherwise). We know that we are whole, complete and loving beings and we are able to share ourselves with another instead of being dependent upon them for our happiness. We then complement each other's lives instead of falling into the interdependence trap in which partners rely on each other for their individual need fulfillment.
Try this for three weeks. It sounds hokey and new age-y, but it will flip a switch on your self-worth, thus changing the direction of your relationships with others. Look in the mirror each morning and tell yourself "I love you." Give yourself a compliment or two. You may laugh, feel silly and you may even get to a point where you cry. Whatever you feel is OK. Just do it for three weeks. Watch as your inner strength rises, you find more confidence and you care less what others think of you. You come into alignment with your authentic self. People will compliment you on your outward self because they see your inner self, or soul, shining. Your love for yourself will be evident to all around you!
Just like any other practice, self-love takes dedication. Nurture, compliment and give yourself attention on a daily basis. Practice this one simple step before you try any other relationship rules, regulations or advice. And if you find things not going right in your life or relationships, remember to turn inward and love you first!