Love is the master key ...

Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.

"Boy, is that song true" I heard him say,"'cause I really feel like a nobody." He was, I thought, the lady-killer of the hotel lounge where we both worked. I would never have imagined this guy being without a date, and there were plenty of times I went home wishing I could be as successful as he surely was with the women. It still stuns me today that this guy with the model-quality looks could feel so lonely and think so poorly of himself. That night really drove home how important self-love was--more so than any other quality we could have. It wasn't just us "average" people who needed it. It was potentially anybody.

Being loving starts with loving yourself. We must find ourselves worthy of our own love exactly as we are at this moment if we are to truly love others. For most of my life, this has been impossible for me: I couldn't even imagine myself as lovable if others didn't love me first. I cheated myself out of a lot of love in the process.

Psychologically speaking, whatever we believe, we attempt to affirm. We will try to categorize all sensory input by these schemas, using it as evidence for or against our beliefs. Unfortunately, being somewhat subjective when it comes to beliefs, we'll usually try to put new information into the "evidence for" category. Therefore, if I believe that I'm unlovable, I'll process things that happen to me in terms of whether or not they say I'm lovable. Believing myself to be unlovable, however, I'll look as hard as I can to find reason this is true. I'll scrutinize everything that doesn't fit this belief and try to discount it. I'll rationalize away until I've found the technicality that allows me to use it to confirm my unlovability. Just as a scientist tries to sweep under the carpet evidence from his experiments that counters his hypothesis, I'll try to discount the signs that I actually could be lovable, too, if I believe strongly that I'm not. Therein lies the reason that we can't be loved by someone else until we love ourselves: if someone else expresses love for us in some form, we won't see it as an expression of love. A real-life example: a friend of mine tried and tried one night to "pick me up" at a dance, but because I didn't believe there was any way she would really find me desirable, I figured she was just being silly. I didn't respond to her advances, and only later did I discover she really was interested in me and felt hurt and rejected by my unresponsiveness that night. I didn't believe I was lovable, so I couldn't see the love meant for me.

Conclusion: if I don't love myself, I'll miss the "I love you" signals sent by others. Fortunately, the reverse is also true: if I do love myself, I'll miss signals of contempt sent by others, instead picking up on more of the little loving gestures sent my way.

People are uneasy with the concept of self-love. Contrary to what some people would have you believe, loving yourself does not mean that you can't have feelings about the losses and gains you experience in life... merely that they should not dictate your ability to love yourself. Even a big corporation like Amway says it's so: you first have to like yourself where you are, or you'll never like yourself where they can take you. If you gain, that makes love a little easier. If you lose, that doesn't mean you aren't lovable. Self-love also does not mean narcissism, to which it is often equated. Narcissistic people feel they are better than everyone else and flaunt it whenever they feel it necessary. People who love themselves aren't concerned with comparing themselves to anyone else. They recognize that they, like everyone else, deserve love regardless of status or possessions.

People who love themselves treat themselves nicely and do healthy things for themselves. They don't indulge in behaviors they know are destructive. People who love themselves radiate a magical self-confidence that draws others to them, yet they don't feel the need to win the adoration of the world. People who love themselves know how to give away that love to others; they help them feel loved and show them how to love themselves.

People who love themselves can include you. Try, and a beautiful world will slowly unfold in front of you as you grow.

[ Oliver Wendell Holmes -- from 'Love Quotes' ( ]


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