What Does it Mean to “Love Yourself”?


We love you, Oscar, but WTF are you talking about?

You’ve heard it before.

“Love yourself.”

“Self-love is the most important kind of love.”

Or this little doozy:

“You must love yourself before you can love anyone else.”

You can’t pick up a book in the personal growth section of Barnes and Noble or scroll through Pinterest without some guru pontificating about self-love. And while one member of our community associated the “self-love” phenomenon with Eat, Pray, Love, I can vouch for the phrase having been around much longer. As a lifelong consumer of self-help books (I know, shocking, right?), I’ve been reading about loving thyself for decades. And it’s still a thing.

I’ll be honest with you. I hate any saying about self-love or loving yourself. It’s cheesy as shit, for one thing. But much more importantly, it’s vague. And vague advice gets interpreted in all kinds of troublesome ways, to the point where it becomes meaningless. So, at the request of a community member, I decided to explore the big question:

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Forgiveness and Letting Go of the Past


So, to continue September’s theme of Working On Your Own Shit, let’s talk about the past. What do we want? To find the right person. Or, if coupled, to succeed with that person. But if there’s anything that can fuck up that process, it’s the dark hauntings of the past.

Our pasts influence us. Difficult or traumatic events change us, for better and for worse. Those bad events can come from childhood, or they can come from previous relationships. They can range from enduring abuse as a child, to having been lied to or cheated on by a partner, or even just having been disappointed over and over again. Sometimes, those wounds don’t quite heal. And unhealed wounds can make finding or keeping relationships really difficult. Why is that?

Well, think about this. If you’re hiking in the forest and sprain your ankle, what happens? A lot of your energy and focus goes toward nursing that ankle and preventing further pain. No longer are you enjoying the hike or noticing the birds and trees. You need to get that ankle dealt with before you can resume hiking again. It’s like that in relationships too. If you have wounds, you’ll do what you can to protect them, and that makes it tough for the relationship to grow or thrive.

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You are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With


It’s well into September now. In our September Get Your Personal Shit Together extravaganza, we’ve now covered why dating and relationship success is an inside job, taking responsibility for your love live, the trap of self-entitlement, and a series on the importance of learning and living your core values. Today, let’s talk about your social circle.

Perhaps you’ve seen this famous quote by Jim Rohn, a dude who’s known for great quotes about life success:

“You are the average of the five people you spent the most time with.”

Think about that for a minute. Whoever dwells in your social circle plays a huge part in determining who you are and how you approach life. It makes some sense, right? Kids behave like their family members. Teens dress and talk like their peers. Couples begin to think and even look alike after being together for years. Birds of a feather and all that. Sometimes the influence can be more profound: a kid gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and winds up in jail. A budding entrepreneur joins a mastermind group and her success begins to skyrocket. A single guy begins hanging with guys who are good with women and suddenly his skills grow.

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Core Values, and Why They’re Crucial to Relationship Success, Part 2


This comes from the move “The Family Stone,” which is where I first heard of a freak flag. In this scene, Luke Wilson’s character is encouraging uptight Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) to fly her freak flag instead of pretending to hide her quirks.

Happy Monday, all. Hope you had a good weekend. I did (I was living my values, particularly my adventure value, by traveling out of town to somewhere totally new). But don’t worry. I still thought about all of you. I thought about the stuff I wrote last week about values and what they are and how to identify and live them.

But something seemed incomplete. I felt like I talked about values without talking enough about why they’re so important, especially to our love lives. A lot of us get that living our values is a good thing — it makes for a happier, more fulfilling life and a more satisfying career. Once you know and live your values, life gets better.

But what about dating and relationships? How do knowing and living our values help us there? We touched upon that last week, but only in passing, as if it’s already obvious. It’s not obvious. To me, the impact of knowing and living our values on our careers and personal lives is much clearer than their impact our love lives. Here’s how knowing your values can not only help your love life, but can make or break it: read more…

Living Your Core Values


Values, values, values. Such an important topic that I’m taking three articles to talk about it. And that’s only scratching the surface.

First, I talked about what core values are, why they’re important in life, and why they’re important in dating and relationships. Next, I outlined a few processes for pinpointing your core values — yes, there are many ways and I’ve found it helpful to use a few different ones. Today, I want to talk about living the values.

Identifying your values is a big step. A step that’s fundamental to having a meaningful life, attracting the right partners, and, if partnered, having a meaningful relationship. We can agree that knowing and living our values is important, and we can acknowledge that doing so will benefit our relationships. So once you discover your core values, it’s all good, right?

If only life were that simple. But it’s not. Nothing is.

The road to living our values can take a few unexpected turns. That’s okay, though… once you have at least some idea of your values, you can always return to them and use them as your guide. But here are some of the challenges you can face:

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How to Identify Your Core Values


A few value examples from MindTools.com

So, last time we talked about values: what they are, why they matter, and why they’re important in dating and relationships. Today, we’ll talk about how to actually identify your core values.

I’ve explored my values a few times in life, particularly when I was struggling. Often, when we struggle, especially when something doesn’t “feel right” but we can’t quite pin it down, we’re probably not living according to our values. One of these periods happened to me earlier this year. I was unhappy, I was irritable, I was struggling financially, I’d experienced several business failures, our house was dusty and torn-up from remodeling our basement, and it was wintertime. I felt stuck, depressed, and like a failure. And I admit I’ve felt that way more times than I can count, and when I look back I see I wasn’t living my values.

So, I decided to do some work on getting my personal shit together. It wasn’t enough to try yoga again or take a fun trip or watch Pride and Prejudice for the gazillionth time. I needed to go deeper and makeover my life, and start living according to my values. However, to do that, I needed to clarify what they are.

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Christie Hartman, PhD

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