"I'm not good enough. I don't deserve love."
"God doesn't love me because I don't deserve to be loved."
I hear this frequently from my clients. I ask them, "Have you ever known a baby who didn't deserve to be loved?"
They invariably answer, "No. All babies deserve to be loved."
"Why?" I ask them. "What did they do to deserve love?"
"They don't have to do anything. They deserve love because they exist."
The sad thing is that many children are not loved just because they exist. Instead, they have to perform to receive "love," which isn't love at all, since it is conditional, based on their being a certain way, such as being obedient or getting good grades. If they behave "right," then they earn approval, which they learn to confuse with love.
Real love is not something that can be or needs to be earned. When the positive energy given a child is conditional, then it is more accurately called approval. Love is that which is unconditional, i.e., there are no conditions under which it is withdrawn or considered undeserved.
Few of us experienced unconditional love as we were growing up, and now we need to learn to give it to ourselves.
The Ego-Wounded Self
When we didn't receive the love we needed, or we were emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused, we developed strategies to managing the loneliness, heartbreak, helplessness and grief of this. We developed our ego-wounded self -- the part of us that has learned to try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain, in order to feel safe.
As part of developing our wounded self, we unconsciously decided that who we really are -- our magnificent soul essence -- was not good enough. We reasoned that if we were good enough, we would be loved. As little children, we could not understand that not being unconditionally loved had nothing to do with us. That it was because our parents, coming from their own ego-wounded self, simply didn't know how.
Once we concluded that our true soul essence was not good enough, we went about hiding it behind our protective strategies. But the truth is that it is impossible for our soul essence to not be good enough, since we are a spark of the divine, an individualized expression of the love that is spirit. Our soul essence is love.
When you tell yourself that you are not good enough and don't deserve love, it is your ego-wounded self referring to itself, since it does not know who you really are.
When you understand deeply that you are not your ego-wounded self -- that you are your beautiful soul essence -- then you will know that you deserve love, and that you deserve to love yourself.
Your Soul Essence
This is who you really are. This is what we see in babies, and why we know that all babies are deserving of love. This is what we see in puppies and kittens and other baby animals, which engenders our love for them.
We all deserve love -- just because we exist. And we all are loved each and every moment by the energy of love that is spirit/universe/God. But you will not know and feel this until you love yourself.
Loving yourself means that you learn to see and value your soul essence and treat yourself as you would treat a beloved baby. It also means that you are loving and compassionate toward your ego-wounded self, valuing this part of you for getting you through the pain of your childhood, and, at the same time, not indulging this aspect in governing your life.
You will know you deserve love when you are loving to yourself.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.
For more from Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.
For more on love and relationships, click here.