“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” Brene Brown
It’s easy to think that we can offer a depth of love, care and compassion to others, despite not giving these things to ourselves. Deep down, I sense we really know that this is simply not the case.
We first take in love from our primary care givers, the people who gaze at our tiny bodies and look deeply into our eyes with love and warmth. These early relational experiences let us know that we are OK, just as we are, whether crying, kicking, giggling, feeding, whatever it is we are doing, the love doesn’t go away. From this, a sense of self-respect, confidence and trust can grow, forming the foundation of our relationship both with ourselves and others.
Life however can intervene. It may be that this was not our early experience. It may be that it was, but that later on our ways of relating were disturbed by traumas, or by difficulties in our family that just eroded that sense of unconditional love and warmth.
Over time, our sense of self-acceptance can change. It can diminish, resulting in doubts and fears, leaving us unable to fully accept and love ourselves. It can also grow, giving us increasing capacity to look at our whole self with kind eyes, to hold the fragile and frightened aspects of our being, and to take care of these parts of our being as we navigate the world.
The more of ourselves we are able to be with and sponsor, the deeper the connections we can make with others, and the greater our sense of belonging, of relationship, of community. We really do first need to love ourselves.
So where can this capacity grow from? Generally, from reparative relationships in our lives. As we begin to perceive the possibilities for personal growth, we begin to attract and bring into our lives those who can help us, be this in our personal life, or professionally.
If you are ready to work with your relationship with yourself, and others, then perhaps psychotherapy is for you. If you want to explore this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call confidentially on 0191 3720318.