Rule 1: You Must Love Yourself First
Your relationship with yourself is the central template from which all others are formed. Loving yourself is a prerequisite to creating a successful and authentic union with another.
The relationship you have with yourself is the central relationship in your life. At the heart of all the elements that make up your life experience-family, friends, love relationships, work-is you. This is why a book about the rules of love begins with a rule not about relationships with others, but rather about the one you have with yourself.
There is a distinction between "you" and your "self." Your self is the core of your being, the essential entity that exists irrespective of your personality, your ego, your opinions, and your emotions. It is the small, sacred space within you that houses your spirit and soul. "You" are the observer, coach, editor, and critic who surveys your thoughts, words, feelings, and behaviors and determines how much of your essential self is shown to others.
The quality of the relationship between you and your self is paramount, for all your other relationships are based on it. This relationship acts as a template from which all the unions in your life are shaped, setting the quality, tone, and texture for how you relate to others and how they relate to you. It establishes the working model of how to give and receive love.
The depth and quality of the link between you and your self ultimately determines the success of your relationships with others. If an authentic love relationship is what you desire, then the first natural step you must take is to learn to love, honor, and cherish yourself as a truly precious and lovable being.The Missing Puzzle Piece
Thousands of people have come to my personal growth workshops over the years to determine how they can find the love relationships they seek. I usually start by asking them to describe in detail how this person they seek would treat them, how they would feel around this partner, and how they would ideally want to relate. The responses, of course, vary from person to person, but several constants always surface: most say they want someone who is kind, considerate, and loving; who will treat them with respect and unconditional acceptance and listen to their wishes, goals, and dreams; who will make them feel special and cherished; who will cheer at their successes; someone with whom they can be open and honest and to whom they can feel completely connected in heart, mind, body, and soul.
When I ask these same people how many of these behaviors and actions they extend to themselves, most sheepishly admit that the answer is little to none. Many will acknowledge that they are critical of their flaws, override many of their needs, take for granted their positive attributes and accomplishments, and generally devote little time or attention to connecting with their own hearts and spirits. The same people who are seeking true love have little idea of how to offer it to themselves.
The place within you that generates self-love is the exact same place that attracts authentic love from others. If that source is clouded, your ability to attract a relationship that glistens with the magical sparkle of love is eclipsed. In order to bring light to that inner source, you will need first to learn how to give to yourself what you are seeking from another. Love creates more love, and when your own inner love light shines, you open yourself to experience the beautiful wonder of a deep and powerful connection with another being.Learning To Love Yourself
At its core, loving yourself simply means believing in your own essential worthiness. It is nurturing a healthy sense of positive self-regard and knowing in your heart that you are a valuable link in the universal chain. Loving yourself also means actively caring for every facet of yourself. It shows up in every action you take, from putting on a sweater to protect yourself from a chill to leaving a job that does not fulfill you. It means tuning in to your own wants and needs and honoring them the exact same way you want your partner to attend to you.
Not everyone grows up to have an innate sense of high self-esteem or worthiness. In fact, most of us need to work at it to some degree throughout our lifetimes. Each person feels insufficient in one or more areas, whether physical, intellectual, financial, or in interpersonal dynamics, emotional maturity, or spiritual growth. However, respecting, nurturing, honoring, and cherishing yourself is your birthright and something you can learn.
Loving yourself is the best way to learn how to love. Love is an action that requires certain understandings, skills, and capacities. By practicing loving with yourself, you train yourself to advance to the next level-loving another.
Only when you have successfully mastered taking care of your own needs can you know how to extend that same attention to others. When you respect the validity of your own thoughts and feelings, you can apply that consideration to others. When you believe within yourself how valuable you are, you can then bestow authentic affection on a partner.
If your objective is to play the game of love to win, then learning self-love is the first step you must take. Before you can roll the dice or even place your playing piece on the board, you need to tap into the inner reaches of your heart and soul and discover all that you are worth.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from If Love Is a Game, These Are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott. . Excerpted by permission of Random House Audio, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.