Happy Relationships: Self Love

Happy relationships are usually about finding self love, or self acceptance, which is simply the removal of self judgment and the acceptance of yourself as you are. This doesn't actually mean increasing self esteem, self worth or self confidence, (though in a sense this occurs as a result of dropping the opposing views), because thinking of oneself as good or worthy is also judgment. It's just positive instead of negative judgment, and it still represents a self image that has to be supported and which can be threatened by others when it isn't.

Generally, we are attracted to others because they make us feel good, which means they either support the qualities that we desire in ourselves and tend to be blind to those we don't like, or they subtlely promise to help us become the person we want to be.

In the first case, we're interested in hiding the parts of ourselves that we judge to be bad in order to maintain happy relationships, and this focus of attention actually results in expressing those qualities. One reason is the focus of attention on them, and another is a subtle resentment that our partner does not accept those parts of ourselves. While this may not be the case at all, the fact that we perceive them and feel that we need to hide them from our partner implies to us that it's true, so the experience of hiding certain qualities leads to the experience of not being accepted. The end result is an increasing need to 'act out' these very qualities that we try to keep to ourselves.

In the second case, the partner seems to possess the qualities that we wish to have, or to improve, and since we're typically not consciously aware of what's going on, it doesn't occur to us that there really isn't a way for us to possess the qualities of another just by being around them. We might learn some new behaviors, but this won't change anything or create more happiness on a fundamental level.

When it seems like neither we nor our partner is able to make us into the sort of person we had hoped to become, we respond by, again, acting out those behaviors that we want to change, as though bringing more attention to them will result in a resolution. We may also start to resent our partner for the very qualities that drew us to him/her in the first place, which results from frustration at not being able to possess them ourselves.

Both scenarios lead to the same general expression of our own negative qualities, and is essentially the reason most happy relationships end in failure. When each person is drawn to the other because they express the positive aspect of qualities that we do not, and the sense of completeness we get from the promise of acquiring those qualities fades, and both begin to express their own negative aspects more strongly, a lot of tension is produced that threatens the survival of the relationship.

And yet, this tension is pointing us to precisely what we were looking for, which is self love, though we didn't know we were looking for it. We thought that we could change ourselves, when in fact what we need to do is accept ourselves. The perception that there is something wrong with us is itself what is wrong, and so rather than self correction, what is needed is self love.

Everyone expresses in unique ways, and while we tend to value the positive qualities in others when we perceive ourselves to be lacking those qualities, we also tend to focus mostly on our own negative qualites and fail to value our own positive qualities. We do this because we're interested in improving ourselves, but it's a fundamental failure to acknowledge and appreciate our own unique expression.

Nobody has a personality in which all aspects are expressed. The introvert is not also extraverted. The assertive person is not also humble and gentle. The logical thinker is not also entirely spontaneous. The solution is not to become what we are not, but to appreciate and stop judging what we are.

This is self love, and it is the focus of almost all happy relationships. To fail at self love usually means the failure of the relationship. Success is not only a major milestone in personal growth, but usually marks a dramatic turning point in the quality of all of our relationships. From a place of self love, happy relationships cease to be based on need and self judgment, and instead form on the solid foundation of genuine love and appreciation of self and other.

Phil Beaumont

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Other 'Happy Relationship' Articles:


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Freedom of Expression

Life is an Intimate Relationship