Learning to Love Yourself
Patricia Jones, M.A.
One of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible is the one said by Jesus that states "you must love your neighbor as yourself" In fact the command to "love your neighbor as yourself can be found eight times in the Bible.

LEVITICUS 19:18 NKJ
18 `You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

MATTHEW 19:19 NKJ
19 `Honor your father and your mother,' and, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "

MATTHEW 22:39 NKJ
39 "And the second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

MARK 12:31 NKJ
31 "And the second, like it, is this: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

LUKE 10:27 NKJ
27 So he answered and said, " `You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and `your neighbor as yourself.' "

ROMANS 13:9 NKJ
9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

GALATIANS 5:14 NKJ
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

JAMES 2:8 NKJ
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
So it is obvious that we are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. But when you have been battered as a woman or cheated on, or lied to, or neglected and abandoned by the very people who are supposed to love you the most, namely your own spouse or your family of origin, or your parents or siblings, it is very hard to love anyone or anything.  And the last person you ever love is yourself.

The main point I would like to make here is many battered and abused women became that way specifically because they were loving their neighbors, spouses, families much more than they loved themselves. So basically, one cannot love another correctly UNTIL they love themselves correctly.
When people hear that scripture they hear mainly the "love your neighbor part"and the "as yourself part" is hardly heard at all.  It takes years for abused people to learn to love themselves because mostly they have been surrounded by people who did not love them at all. So they learned to not love themselves as well.  You must love yourself first, and correctly BEFORE you can love your neighbor correctly. So the AS YOURSELF PART is the most important part of that scripture.
People who have been abused for most of their lives are very down on themselves.  They feel worthless and lonely.  Because love has never been without conditions for them. They feel like Cinderella who had to earn every single bit of kindness that she got from the Queen and two ugly step-sisters.

However, deep inside her heart Cinderella knew that she was a good, kind and decent person who did not deserve such despicable treatment. Somewhere deep inside of her there lived that spark of self-love.  And she held out hope that someday, she would be released from the prison that she was in and find her Prince.
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Articles by Patricia Jones, M.A.
We come into this world alone, and we go out of this world alone. What happens between those two times determines how much love we feel and are able to give in return.

If you are lucky enough to be born into  a normal family who gives love freely without conditions, and without you having to earn it, or  be approved first before you receive their love, then you are among the most fortunate. But dysfunctional families do not operate that way. There are always conditions that must be met before a person is loved.
If you are born into a dysfunctional family your idea of love will be incorrect from day one. And it is almost impossible to love oneself in these types of families. The entire family is operating out of non-love. None of them love anyone BUT THEMSELVES in a warped way. They are all narcissists, who are in love with their own image, their own agenda, their own desires. They see people as "objects to be used" as a "means to an end" and very rarely do they feel guilt, or remorse. It is all about them.
People who are abused as adults were always abused as children first. This is why they grow up with very low, if any self-esteem, and it is why they end up in abusive relationships, that are based on conditions to be met. The abused adult does not know anything different. They do not know what real love feels like. They think they have to earn it, or do favors for, or become something they are not  in order to be loved. This is because that is how they were treated as children. Love was based on conditions to be met.

The professional abuser seeks out just such vulnerable women/people. They seem to have an antennae that can radar in on kind, loving, sensitive women, who were the scapegoats in their birth families and who were already trained by them to accept abuse. People gravitate to what they are used to even if what they were used to is bad, it feels normal to them.
It may take a life time for an abused woman to finally figure that she is the scapegoat in her family of origin and has been set up to be a scapegoat for the rest of her life, who continually ends up with the wrong people in her life who then continue to abuse her in adulthood.

She can break the cycle of abuse when she FINALLY learns to love herself correctly so that no matter what anyone else thinks she is ok with who she is. And no one can ever take that away from her again. She has finally found herself that was lost in childhood and loves who she was always intended to be by God.  The is a real surreal moment when it finally dawns on her that she does not have to put up with abuse any longer.
There are two ways that she can learn to love herself.  The first is to realize that God loves her, without conditions, and will never leave her or forsake her. So she learns to lean on God, and trust Him to guide her in all of her decisions no matter how small they may appear to be.

The second thing she can do is become her own "best friend" and begin by treating herself with profound tenderness and respect. She must learn to love herself FIRST before she can love her neighbor. And when she loves herself the correct way, NO ONE will EVER be able to abuse her again.
If you feel lonely and worthless and like there is no one there for you then please either email me or call for a phone counseling session so that I may help you to get back your feelings of self-worth and give you a renewed hope for your future.

Patricia Jones, M.A.
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"You demonstrate love by giving it unconditionally to yourself. And as you do, you attract others into your life who are able to love you without conditions"  Paul Ferrini
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