You may claim out loud that you don’t need the love and approval of others.
You may be ashamed of secretly wanting it, and work hard to heal yourself of this desire.
You may sometimes realize your faulty logic, but in your most honest moments, you admit there are times you wish for it.
You want your spouse, your partner, or your family members to accept you for who you are.
You want your students, colleagues, clients, or boss to recognize your strengths and think you’re pretty amazing.
You want your children to appreciate all you’ve done for them and love you for doing the best you could.
If you want some of these things, or something similar, at least some of the time, here's an easy way to get them:
Do just three things:
1. Love them first.
Admit it. How much are you judging them? How much do you want them to be different from the way they are? If you want to feel loved, you have to LOVE. And you have to love honestly, humbly, and fully (even when they don’t do something the way you would). There are so many things you could find to love about every person you come into contact with, but if you aren’t feeling loved, it's in large part because you aren’t looking for what you love about others.
Don’t use this as a reason to think you’re a failure. If you blame yourself or beat yourself up for your shortcomings, that’s not finding things to love about others. Just find things to love about others. That’s it.
2. Love yourself.
I know you’ve heard this one before. I know you know deep down that self-love trumps getting the love and approval of someone else by far. But there are moments when you forget this, or you’re just not buying it. I want to talk to you in THOSE moments: Make a list of what you love about others. Why are they amazing? Why do you admire them? Write the love letter of your life to someone you think is just totally awesome. Then … admit this: You cannot recognize something you don’t have. Everyone in your world is a reflection of you. Sit quietly until you can admit that YOU are just as amazing. Don’t be cavalier about it. Be real. Find examples and prove it to yourself. Sit until you feel the spark of willingness to admit that you have the qualities you love and admire in others. So of course you would love yourself.
This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. How many people do you love who aren’t always living as the highest version of themselves? If you can love them, you can love you. So stop making such a big deal about your supposed mistakes or shortcomings. Really, just stop.
3. Let them love you.
Yes, if you want someone to love you, you have to let them. Love them, love yourself enough to know you are worthy, and then be completely vulnerable. Without those things, they can love you more than anything on earth and you won’t feel it. Or trust it.
Also, let them love you in unconscious ways. You know how poorly you sometimes treat the people you love the most? It’s because deep down you trust them enough to keep loving you, even at your worst. Sometimes we show how much we love someone by trusting that they will love us even at our worst. I’m not advocating that this is ideal, but it definitely happens. And if you can’t help doing this, don’t expect the people you love to be able to help it either. Let them love you by not being perfect or by not always knowing the right thing to do or say. Because this is their vulnerability talking, this is them showing you their dark side and asking you to love them anyway.
If you tap into your limitless capacity to love others unconditionally; if you love yourself because you are a real, authentic, perfectly imperfect human being with a heart of gold; and if you allow yourself to be loved by people however they know how to love you … then you will feel love coming at you from every direction.