Self-Love

Why You Should Stop Looking For Love And Start Building Yourself

You think love is hard. But love is easy. Love is the easiest. Building your life is hard. Focusing on yourself and creating a world from which you don’t want to escape is hard.

Speaking of which, an older, wiser man once revealed to me a secret: People don’t love you for the emotional energy you put in the relationship; they love you for who you are.

Thinking back to all my past relationships, I can tell you now he was right. In fact, investing emotional energy prematurely or inappropriately was most often the reason why my relationships failed.

People who stuck around, who came back, who didn’t walk away when things got hard did so because of who I was, of the little and big things about me that had nothing to do with them.

Though it’s always easier said than done. I could repeat the self-love mantra millions of times but it could still go like this: I met someone, my head got wrapped up quickly, my life suddenly revolved around this new shiny stranger, and I conveniently forgot about all my goals and dreams or even who I was as a person.

It was tough. Men thought I was crazy about them, I was intense, I pushed for more time spent, but it was just a coping mechanism. It wasn’t about them. Jeez, I barely knew them. And I was too psychologically layered to fall in love with people I didn’t know well.

The truth is, I was just not in love with my life. I was desperate for a distraction. I wanted to latch onto others to feel less shit about myself. I actually didn’t want to think about my life at all.

But in my gut, I always knew it wasn’t right. And the funny thing is, over the years I’d written about this so many times. I really thought I’d learned and changed but it kept happening to different degrees.

I’m now fully convinced that life will keep throwing at you the same problem until it’s too hurt to not do differently and move on. Fortunately, I’m slowly moving on. I’ve reprogrammed my thinking little by little and I’ve been evolving in ways which sometimes are hard to recognize in the midst of pain but I know are there.

I can’t guarantee I won’t jump up and down again, and I definitely can’t claim that I’ve become this calm and cool person. But there’s progress and I’m happy with it. At least I know what I have to do. I know it all starts with me being centered, and I need to keep being centered regardless.

I’m usually worried that if I’m just focusing on myself following my own path like that, I might forget to be nice and accommodating for others, I might not even have the time to put in finding a partner, and for this, I would likely end up alone and sad.

This is just me, by the way. This is my concern because I value having a good partner and I’d definitely prefer being in a good relationship to being on my own (and I’d prefer being on my own to being in a bad or meh relationship).

But I’ve tried being nice, I’ve tried investing my time and energy… at the cost of overstepping my own boundaries and neglecting my needs — it just didn’t work that way.

In fact, being myself and centred might well be my best chance at finding a good partner because that’s how I could become my best self and add real value to any relationship instead of constantly needing something from the outside to fill me up.

See, I’ve realized a terrifying truth that over the last several years, even though I wasn’t in any long serious relationship, I have never ever been truly on my own. I was always with someone in some capacity, and my emotions, as a result, were always ups and downs and mostly out of control. My psychological life was practically a circus. It got too much.

You know, when the rewards are high, there’s just too much at stake and the comedown can be sudden and brutal. And if you keep exposing yourself to this volatility, you will get addicted, you will be dependent, nothing else could make you feel as good again, your mental health will get fucked, and your life would just suck balls.

That’s what happened to me. I got chronic anxiety. I didn’t know how to manage it because it was constantly at an alarming level. I didn’t know how to be happy and full by myself without expecting something to happen and make me feel good. I didn’t know how to meet my own needs without turning to others like an entitled child. And none of that was healthy and sustainable. It had to change.

So I’m taking the time for myself. I’m taking all the time in the world for myself, just myself, with no end date set in sight. Honestly, I’m very excited about this. Just the thought of it could give me this comforting feeling and calm me down instantly. It’s like I’m finally giving myself the permission to be selfish (in a good way I promise).

I want to and I will put myself at the center of my reality and be absolutely unapologetic about it. At the same time, I’m training my brain to register all the good feelings coming from plenty of awesome things in my life that have nothing to do with relationships — equally positive but much less mental health at stake.

Especially, I will make myself present for all the self-care activities so I could bathe in the pure pleasure of being alive — of being me — to the fullest. I will invest time in exploring and enjoying my interests for the sake of living life (i.e. having quality time with myself), not as a means to an end (e.g. making myself more attractive to the opposite sex, keeping myself busy to increase my perceived value — Nope.) And I understand that I’m already whole and I’m all that I need to be happy.

Importantly, this is not a phase. This is a mindset. This is a way of life. It doesn’t mean I’m being lazy or closed-off about finding a good relationship. I will always have the desire and willingness to build something long-term; I’m just not expending my energy mindlessly anymore. My energy is with me — at the center of my body and spirit — to power me, protect me, and enable me to give my best to others.

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About the author
Viet girl. Writer. Founder. London based Follow Ellen on Instagram or read more articles from Ellen on Thought Catalog.

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