“For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that “unless you love yourself, no one else will love you.” …The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.”
~Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. –“The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog”
I think we need contrast to cultivate and then express self-love. If your present is a match to your past, it is impossible to grow. It is easier to cultivate self-love if you had one person on your side as a child for contrast. It can help you realize that the wrongness is your abusers and not you.
“Whether we are dealing with intrapsychic confusion, interpersonal conflict, or climate catastrophe, we are all interconnected. Nothing is ‘healed’, resolved or re-imagined through systems in isolation”
~The Trauma Project
Growth and change is made possible with contrast (an environment that contradicts the one we grew up in). Surely enough, we can change our behaviors without contrast that move us in the direction of full-on self-love (the top-down approach), but to achieve ACTUAL self-love is a different ball-game and it comes with years and years (if not lifetimes) of healing the wound that caused us to doubt ourselves in the first place. There is an open wound that caused us to turn on ourselves. What is that wound? Is is fully healed? And you know, if you don’t FULLY and completely love yourself, there is no shame in that. What if the beginning of self-love is in being OK with not being there yet. (This is not sports where we have to compete to win a race and get a trophy). What if it’s about being brutally honest with yourself? That’s how we start the journey.
“Biologically we are wired to thrive only when we are nurtured properly. The suffering that comes from abandonment and then the shame from such abandonment when we tell people to just “fill themselves up.” With what??” ~Dina Baldwin Berdy, LMSW LLC
“Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” ~Dr. Peter A. Levine
For more on my thought-process regarding self-love, please see my full post on it.