Friday, July 19, 2013

Loving Yourself to Love Others

Many people have difficulties loving themselves. This can be a significant problem because it is a requirement to love what you do and to love others. Once you love yourself, you can love others. If your work is to provide products or services for others you have to understand your clients' needs, and this in turn requires that you understand your own needs. In other words, you have to communicate with yourself, and the most intimate form of communication is love.

The first step in loving yourself is to make contact and engage in a dialogue with yourself. This requires seeing communication in a new light. Communication is the sending and receiving of meaningful messages, which excludes much rumination, depressed thoughts, and navel gazing. Communicating with yourself means putting together a novel thought or sensation in yourself. When you weigh various information inputs and reach a decision or formulate a new insight, that is communicating with yourself. It requires being alert to the various sources of information inside and outside yourself. Many practices can help you become more attentive - and mindful - of even small pieces of information, the tone in someone's voice or a feeling inside you, which can give you greater insight into yourself and others.

Love plays a special role in communication because it consists of feeling, attitudes and behavior that promote a bond between people where more than usual information takes place. If there happens to be just one person, you, at both ends of the communication it only means that you shift information within yourself. Whenever you engage in a meaningful activity you shift information between the cells and along neural fibers inside you, whether in the form of electrical charge (fast) or chemical molecules (mostly slow). Practicing the communication inside you can help you not only gain a better understanding of yourself but also become more effective in your interactions with the world around you. Fortunately much of this happens automatically, but to improve the flow of information inside yourself, to open the doors which may be closed, a loving attitude to yourself is key.

You are the sum of all the information stored in your body. There is the information you were born with, the information from your parents, which makes up the blueprint for your body, and then there is the information added due to the varying environments you were exposed to. The key is to understand that all this information had to be communicated at some point. We live in an intricate web of communicated messages, from those exchanged between and inside individual cells, all the way to on's interaction with other people and the world around us, by spoken words, notes, gestures, a film, an instant message, a text message, and anything else which can be conceived to send and receive meaningful messages. These messages bring about change, and we effect change in the world through communication. If you want someone else to do something for you, you have to communicate. If you want something from yourself, you have to communicate with yourself. Much of psychotherapy from Sigmund Freud's self-analyzing thoughts onward is largely built on the understanding that knowing more about yourself puts you in better control of who you are. 'Cognosce seauton,' know thyself, has been an imperative since classical Greek times, and before.

Loving yourself means understanding your personality, accepting it and appreciating its uniqueness. Personality is comprised of one's patterns of behavior and communication. The way you react to another person is not likely to change much from one day to the next. Your personality is determined by your genetic endowment and the communication you have been exposed to in your life which forms your memories and experiences. Once you can appreciate your uniqueness you can act and think in ways that bring out the best of your abilities and ways of thinking.

Communication with your inside world is important because your inside world is what your use to perceive your outside world. William Wordsworth (1770-1850), the great English poet of the Romantic era,  subtitled his autobiographical poem The Prelude 'Growth of a Poet's Mind'. In it he describes nature around him as he saw it and brings alive an enormous intimacy with the physical world. The reader gets a strong feeling for the poet's inside world through his description of the outside world. The first step towards loving yourself is to love the world around you, and the first step to loving the world around you is to love yourself. Engagement with the world around you means engagement with the people around you, specifically those you care about.

Better communication with yourself begins with reflecting on how you perceive the world around you, how others communicates with you and how you communicate with others. Unfortunately, many people's first step towards self-discovery is to find a guru who can tell them more about themselves. But this almost never works because no one potentially knows as much about yourself as you do. Reflecting on how you interact with the world is the highway to finding out more about yourself. This is how much of psychotherapy and coaching works, which should help you become more aware of how you interact with the world rather than providing ready made answers which never provide an exact fit.

The self is a node in a large communication network, which creates something new from the information available to it from the world inside and the world outside, the people you relate with, publications, media, entertainment and the internet. Loving yourself and the ability to get in close contact with yourself is a prerequisite to be able to do so with other people. Unfortunately, many people I have worked with over the years cannot get in this close proximity to build intimacy with themselves. This makes it harder for them to make their personal and business relationships a success. If you do not know where you stand it is difficult to agree with others on where to go.

Reflecting on how you interact with the world around you primarily means trying out and using new perspectives. You are integrated into a large web of communication where meaning is created in many places, inside and outside yourself, but you have to develop eyes and ears for it. Loving yourself not only makes communicating with yourself easier, self-communication also facilitates self-love. My experience of working with many people taught me that negative attitudes towards oneself are often the result of knowing too little about oneself. Many fears about self-discovery come from the memories of past interactions with others. Breaking through the fear to learn about yourself can increase self-confidence and make you more successful in dealing with others, in personal affairs and in a business setting. Working with an experienced professional can help you progress faster, more easily and with a greater sense of certainty. To conquer uncertainties and fears of learning more about yourself, a better relationship with yourself is key. This begins with assuming a more caring and interested attitude towards yourself, which in itself is an act of love.

Interesting books on communication by this and other authors: or search for "Christian Jonathan Haverkampf" on your local Amazon website or at your local book dealer. Suggestions for further explorations in communication: &
© 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation and/or the risks warrant it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners. If this article is marked as a work of fiction all references to persons, living or deceased, or organizations, including former ones, are coincidental. I know that this is reiterating the obvious, but thanks for bearing with me.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Love Yourself

The commandment of neighborly love form the Christian bible is well known, "love thy neighbor as you love yourself". As humans we still seem to be far away from this goal, which becomes obvious anytime you turn on the TV or hear people talk about their relationships or workplaces. But there is a part of this biblical message which often goes overlooked, that of self-love.

Loving oneself does not mean narcissistic self-love, which is not really love but overcompensated insecurity in disguise. It also does not mean ego-centrism which means seeing oneself as the center of the universe. We know this cannot be true for any world with more than one person in it.

But self-love is important because if we do not love ourselves how can we love any other person if we are to love the other the same as ourselves? It is the starting point for self-confidence and success.

Many people find it hard to love themselves and replace self-love with the narcissistic love mentioned above. But in the long-run it is unfulfilling to pretend one is desirable because deep down most people can see through it. Many of us are in a rat race for the goals they halfheartedly believe in, often for a little piece of love and attention they thirst for. If they were loving themselves they simply would not have to do that. So, the question becomes how to love oneself.

Absent self-love is often a result of not thinking oneself as worthy of love. I have heard many people tell me about the parts of themselves are somehow 'damaged' or 'soiled' and they would like to get rid of. Out of this feeling of deficit comes an idea that is even more destructive. Love is something one can and has to work for. This concept is at the root of the problem why we engage in self-destructive behavior. We believe we have to work for something that cannot be earned, and so our efforts and the limits we are willing to transgress spiral upwards. However, the moment you realize that love cannot be earned and that you can actually give it yourself all this becomes unnecessary. A person who loves herself or himself becomes infinitely attractive to the world, and the best part of it is that it does not require anything. You already do it but cannot believe that you do it.

There is one person you can always love, and should love, and that is yourself. Since everything you do, including loving someone else, has to be through you, you need to love yourself to be able to love someone else. And loving really worth it, because it truly makes you feel better when you can give something many times over that you value highly yourself. My observation over the years have been that many people can trust others and a more positive about the world than it seems, even if they had a difficult past, but they first have to learn to trust and love themselves. Even if you sacrifice yourself for someone else, this can only be out of love if you love yourself, which makes much martyrdom and self-sacrifice not acts of love but a psychological problem.

So what to do if you find it difficult to love yourself. The first step is to realize that you may have to change how you see yourself. Often the problem stems from unpleasant and negative experiences in the past. A twisted magical belief sets in that shedding one's self will also dispose of the negative experiences one had to endure. However, the more mature solution is to accept that the past has happened and as a compensation be especially good to oneself. We can embrace and console others, but what about our own self that had to endure difficult times? Many professionals have experience with helping one work through this. And you will see, that once you are there for yourself you can be there for others who are struggling through difficult times themselves.

Loving oneself not only helps deal with psychological reactions to negative experiences, but it also means more happiness and greater success. The reason for the last point is that people who can experience a healthy self-love come across as more authentic and genuine. You are more likely to have confidence in those who have confidence in themselves.

Interesting books on communication by this and other authors:
If you want to find out more about communication and how it can help you: &
© 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.