By glancing at the title, you might assume that this will be about someone’s first boyfriend or girlfriend. But I am talking about a different kind of love, a love that has been forgotten, or in some cases never known. I’m talking about a love that has increasingly lost its significance over time, yet, ironically, is the most important love of all. I’m talking about a love that is at the core of our well being and happiness. I’m talking about a love from which all other love stems. This love I am talking about is the love of one’s self.
Self-love is our first true love, although most of us interpret the meaning of love as something along these lines: the profound attachment and ardent affection one feels for another person. We humans have an adverse tendency to believe that our individual selves are unworthy of love. We are blinded by the false perception that the only way to find true peace and happiness within our lives is by loving someone else.
When we learn to love our selves, everything else in our lives falls into place. That is why to kick off this February, which is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we should focus on putting ourselves first. It may seem narcissistic, but it is not at all. There is a clear distinction between self-love and narcissism. Self-love is loving and caring for yourself, while narcissism is selfishness and egoism.
We must understand that self-love doesn’t just stop with loving ourselves. It begins with improving and loving yourself so that you can form a strong relationship with another person. So it starts with “me” to form a better “we.”
What does this have to do with the awareness and prevention of teen dating violence? Everything.
When we learn to love ourselves, we remember where our power is. We have the power to make our own choices. A person who loves his or herself and believes he or she is worthy of love will not allow themselves to be mistreated by others. Another characteristic of people who love themselves is that they focus on feeling good and feeling happy and have a low tolerance for negative feelings. Loving ourselves also helps us form boundaries and teaches us how to say no. It creates a balance between self-love and our love for others.
Throughout our life, in all of our relationships and especially this month, we must always remember to put ourselves first. If you are ever in a relationship that just doesn’t feel right, you can remind yourself of a few things in order to help you handle the situation in a way that will benefit you the most. You can ask yourself “If I truly loved myself, what would I do in this situation?” The most important thing that we must remember at all times is that we are all worthy and deserving of love in its fullness. Anyone who treats you otherwise, must therefore not love you, and you most definitely do not deserve that.
My wish for you is that you learn to love yourself and put yourself first, so that you then may find true peace and happiness in your life.
AWP volunteer and Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB) member