Learning how to put yourself first is a journey. Several components of your belief system and the social environment might have conditioned you to believe that “putting yourself first” is selfish or it might hurt your loved ones. Let’s discuss some of the belief systems that keep insecure and even afraid to put yourself first and how to do it without hurting anyone.
“Unconditional love” (If I love them I have to put them first)
If you’re anything like me, you were taught to put your husband and children first to be a good wife and mother. I can assure you, I did. However, it made me insecure, a people pleaser, unhappy, and promoted negative thinking patterns. I had this fight in my head of “I need time for me”, I need my loved ones to love on me the way I love on them”, and “Somebody, please pay attention to me (for a change).”
Being a baby boomer, I grew up at a time when women were taught to be family oriented and to love their families unconditionally (Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions). I gave birth to my children. I must forgive their actions and never allow my love for them or my relationship with them to be shaped by their behavior toward me. I’m older and more experienced I have to be strong and keep on going. They’ll grow and change their ways. I did promise them, unconditional love. I must let go of my brother’s and or sister’s reactions toward me and just be there for them. I proudly love everyone unconditionally. That means, forgiving, letting go, moving on even when issues are unresolved, and putting others’ needs before yours. If I’m a good family member, I should be the bigger person I believed in and pursue it as my truth.
Now having adult sons, and finding myself with an empty nest, I had to search within, research the true meaning of unconditional love and reshape these meanings in my mindset. This is basically what I gather about loving someone unconditionally.
- When I pursue loving unconditionally, I’m actually loving myself conditionally.
- When I love others that way I assign a lesser value and esteem to myself.
- When I love others with that unhealthy unconditional love, I actually do them a disservice because I’m showing them how to love me and possibly how to love themselves and others.
- Loving is an action and I need to take responsibility for those loving actions toward me and others.
- Loving unconditionally is mostly comprised of unhealthy behaviors that make conditional love a lie.
However, we can still love “unconditionally”, if it’s done in a healthy way. I can love someone even if I’m not in their presence, even if I let them know how I cannot be treated and how I can. The compromise is to not just take whatever treatment comes to me but to have mature relationships where I communicate healthy boundaries as I respect theirs. maybe loving a family member unconditionally means, giving them another chance to communicate and grow into a healthier relationship, or being there for them in their time of need.
Therefore, I encourage you to search within and research the meaning of these words you were taught and find a healthier way to love yourself and others. When you love yourself healthier, you’re helping others love you healthier and even themselves.
With much love,