When we speak of self-love, there are generally two types of love. Soft love and tough love. Many online articles only focus on soft love – about accepting ourselves, caring for ourselves, allowing ourselves to be happy. That’s great, but sometimes we need tough love too. Soft love heals. Tough love builds integrity, strength, and personal power.
Tough love is not about abusing ourselves or subjecting ourselves to pain for no reason.
Tough love is about giving ourselves what we need as opposed to what we want. It is about acting in our own long-term best interest. It is about living our truths and being in touch with our higher selves. Tough love requires of us courage, strength, and discipline so we can be proud of ourselves.
This is what tough love entails:
Holding ourselves to high standards
This is also about demanding the best from ourselves. Too often we let ourselves get away with things. We let ourselves be late for appointments. We don’t live up to the promises we make to ourselves. We make excuses ourselves when we were really just lazy or afraid. Most of the time we try to get away with doing as little as possible.
We can’t depend on others to demand the best from us. We have to demand the best from ourselves.
Families and friends sometimes think they’re doing us a favour by cutting us slack. For the sake of relationships, we often say nice things when our friends and family ask us for feedback. We don’t want to hurt their feelings so we sugar coat their words. We think we are helping them by holding them to a lower standard simply because they’re close to us. By doing this we’re actually shielding them from harsh realities, and giving them a false satisfaction.
The best thing we can do for anyone is to hold them to high standards. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to hold ourselves to high standards. The real world doesn’t care about our feelings. The real world won’t sugar coat words to soften the blow to our fragile egos. To compete in the real world, attain mastery, or achieve excellence, we must constantly improve and exceed ourselves.
We don’t demand the best from ourselves because we don’t believe we can do it. We doubt ourselves, we believe ourselves unworthy. What if we were worthy of the best? What if we could become great? If we truly believed that we had greatness inside us, wouldn’t we demand greatness?
When we believe in ourselves, we demand the best from ourselves. And then we rise to meet our own expectations. We even wow ourselves.
Reclaim your personal power
Once upon a time, we abdicated our personal power. We gave in to the demands of the world and people around us. Much of what we do is designed to illicit praise, approval, attention, recognition, validation, or some form of gratification from other people. We are so eager to get what we want from others that almost our entire lives are crafted to fit into what we deem acceptable and desirable by society’s standards. When we’re not trying to please society, we’re busy trying to please our spouses, or bosses, or friends, or parents.
At some level we have victimised ourselves, made ourselves helpless. We hope that someone will save us. We put our lives in others’ hands. We essentially hope that other people will live our lives for us. So we give them the keys to our happiness by giving them our power.
I once coached a client who was seeking to improve her relationship with her parents. She really wanted to connect with her Mother, and underlying that was a deep need of acceptance from her mother. At the time, her attempts at reaching out her not working. I wondered how to handle this situation and asked my mentor for help. He asked me what would need to happen for this client to succeed? I said, her Mother would have to accept her. My mentor said the solution never lies outside the client. It always lies within. Therefore, my clients’ success was never about her Mother’s response. It was always about whether she could accept whatever reactions her Mother had, continue trying, and face the situation with courage.
It’s time for us to reclaim our personal power by turning the spotlight on ourselves.
Dare to be responsible
Being responsible for things requires us to be willing to suffer the consequences of our actions. That requires courage.
The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences
of that behavior. – M. Scott Peck
Being responsible also means we look first to ourselves as the source and cause of our problems, never to someone or something else.
When we are willing to accept responsibility for our lives, we begin the first step towards real and lasting change.
Be honest with yourself
We often lie to ourselves unknowingly. Not because we have ill intentions, but because we want to protect ourselves from pain. Facing the truth sometimes requires pain because it means letting go of our beliefs. We suffer when we realise we were wrong. But suffering in the pursuit of truth is the foundation of a deeply fulfilling life.
One of the most common lies I notice people telling themselves is that they do not know what they want. We usually have some idea of what we want. The reason we ‘don’t know’ is usually because we (1) have given up on getting it; or (2) believe we do not deserve it. If we simply dared to admit to ourselves what we truly wanted, if we acknowledged our true desires instead of succumbing to excuses and distractions, we would reach our goals much faster.
We tell other lies of course. We pretend things are okay when they’re not. We deny our painful feelings and numb ourselves. We refuse to accept disappointments.
Being honest with ourselves is difficult. But it is also necessary for self-mastery. Only by constantly dedicating ourselves to reality and truth can we grow and evolve into joyful, successful people.