Love yourself first

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Guest post by Kylie Johnson

“Before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself.” Recognize that line from the song “Save Myself” by Ed Sheeran? Or maybe you have heard “Lose You To Love Me” by Selena Gomez? Those two songs talk about loving yourself before you get into a romantic relationship.

But how do I love myself, and why is it important to love yourself before going into a relationship? Like a lot of teens, I have questions on this topic, so I decided to invite my crazily artistic, fun-loving and beautiful aunt to coffee to talk about it.

Hannah Johnson has an undergraduate degree in psychology and was recently accepted into Gonzaga to pursue a masters in school counseling and become a licensed professional counselor. We decided to go to The Garden Coffee and Local Eats, and she brought along her 5-year-old son, Oakley, who was kind enough to take our picture for this story. The coffee was so good! I was trying hard to focus on the subject at hand, but my mind would go back to my delicious blended mocha.

Hannah wisely approached this subject with a definition.

”I think it’s important to define self love as valuing yourself as a whole and having confidence in who you are; it’s important to recognize that it’s different from simply comparing yourself to others or being self-focused,” she said. “Some people think it’s narcissistic, but it’s really just having a value of yourself and where you’re at. Self love is just a healthy view of yourself; it’s healthy for everybody.” 

How could I build my self love? Like a lot of people, I can be pretty hard on myself, and I could work on building my self-compassion. Hannah gave multiple great points, such as following positive accounts on Instagram, doing fun leisure activities and building social connections. 

“Your peers can influence you even more than a trusted adult, parent or guardian,” she said. “If your peers are not boosting your self-esteem, then you need to notice that and maybe put some distance there.” 

What does self love look like when you’re ready to go into a romantic relationship? Hannah listed three areas to get right first. The first one is self kindness; don’t criticize yourself for your flaws. Then you need to realize your common humanity, which is that everyone makes mistakes and acknowledging the weaknesses you have makes you human. The final step is mindfulness, which is to be aware of negative self talk. All of us can grow in an area or two, but that’s no reason to beat yourself up about it.

Wait … if you don’t love yourself and you dive into a romantic relationship, is that really a bad thing? How would it affect the relationship? Would it affect the relationship? 

”It can totally affect your relationship because if you don’t recognize your own self worth then you can begin to expect others to fill that hole,” she said. “You also won’t be able to protect yourself and stand up for yourself in tough situations.” 

“Some people think it’s narcissistic, but it’s really just having a value of yourself and where you’re at. Self love is just a healthy view of yourself; it’s healthy for everybody.” 

Hannah Johnson

Hannah also said that if your self love is at an unhealthy spot it will negatively affect both sides of the relationship. One person will need to take more than they can give, which is exhausting for both people.

That makes sense, but what should I do if I’m in a relationship when one person does not have a healthy amount of self love? Hannah suggested that in these seasons, the healthier partner needs to have sensitivity and awareness and help the other person practice self love. Self love isn’t going to be natural for everybody. If it’s at a really unhealthy point, then you may need to break it off and give them time to focus on themselves. If they are hurting themselves, then it will be harder but still be the right thing to do.

”In the end, everyone is responsible for their own actions,” Hannah said. 

If you need to work on self love and you’re in a romantic relationship, you need to realize that it’s not selfish to take time to yourself and break it off, if that’s what you feel like you need to do. You should know that it’s not the other person’s responsibility to carry your negative self talk burden and that you can’t rely on them to feel good. In either situation, it’s never bad to go and talk to a counselor or someone you trust so they can give you input.

Hannah and I sure had some deep conversations about this topic while little Oakley played on his tablet and my phone. Our drinks were amazing, and I absolutely loved the vibe and atmosphere of The Garden. It was a great place to just share a treat with a loved one and talk. I learned so much more about this topic because of Hannah and give her much thanks. I’m glad I could show myself a little love with the blended mocha and whether it’s with a coffee or just giving myself grace, I think I’m going to start treating myself more often.

Guest contributor Kylie Johnson is a freshman at Mica Peak High School in Spokane Valley. She drinks blended mochas, eats ice cream by the pint and plans to marry Five Seconds of Summer drummer Ashton Irwin. Until they get the chance to actually meet, she is focusing on self-compassion.


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