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A fatal error in upbringing ensures that children are damaged for a lifetime

ShutterstockImagine there is this one magic bullet that can improve all of your relationships. It makes you more lovable, more successful, more loyal, more satisfied. It makes you do your chores better and more efficiently than ever before. It ensures that you see your friendships and love relationships from a completely new perspective.

You think there is no such thing? Oh yes, there is: it's called self-love.

Before you think something like “Huh? Egoism should make everything better ”, let's make one thing clear: Self-love has nothing to do with being in love with yourself or even narcissism. Self-love means saying yes to yourself. That you are at peace with yourself.

Confused? OK, let's try another way: How often have you done something that you dislike just to please others? Yes, you did that because you are not close enough to yourself and therefore need confirmation from others.

Self-love must develop in childhood

“Self-love doesn't mean that you just revolve around yourself. But on the contrary. Most of our relationships fail because we don't love ourselves enough, ”says psychiatrist Michael Lehofer in an interview with Business Insider. Lehofer recently published the book “To be with me”.

His thesis: Because many people cannot love themselves, they seek confirmation from others - in people and in material things. "We exploit others properly and want their love and appreciation at all costs instead of looking for them in ourselves."

The great misunderstanding of self-love begins in childhood: self-love, as Lehofer is convinced, arises when we are unconditionally loved by our parents and the people around us. This is by no means always the case. Because in order to prepare children for life, parents often mistakenly attach their love to conditions. We have to be good, obedient, ambitious, and nice, otherwise the parents won't love us.

“We want to respect the conditions well, because then papa, mum, and internalized parents promise us affection,” Lehofer writes in his book. By internalized parents, the psychiatrist means the traces of relationships that our parents leave behind in us throughout our lives and that we project onto others. You could now say that our parents are to blame if we don't love ourselves, but in truth that is exactly the crux with unconditional love: If parents haven't got it, how are they supposed to pass it on?

And that then affects our whole life. Lehofer is of the opinion that egoism or narcissism result from a lack of self-love.

An example: behind the unscrupulous ambition of a top manager, there is secretly the fear of not being recognized. And this recognition from others should compensate for a lack of self-love. In other words: because he cannot love himself, others have to acknowledge him. “If he loved himself, then it would not be about the ascent, but about the cause. Namely, what is best for the company and for the employees, ”explains Lehofer.

"I've given up trying to be great"

People who want to be loved by everyone at all costs are very often those who love themselves the least.

The desire for a lot of money and materialism are also related to it: “We buy and buy because we think that we are then more desirable, actually more lovable. But the truth is: it will never be enough if we don't start loving ourselves at some point. "

The good news is: Lehofer does not believe that you cannot learn to love yourself again later. Because at some point in life everyone has at least experienced beginnings of unconditional love and can fall back on them. “We just have to question ourselves. We can also consult a friend who is close to us. "

Let's take the unscrupulous manager again as an example: he may wonder why he is doing this. Is he doing this because he wants recognition? Why does he need this recognition? Isn't it enough if he knows it was a good thing for the company?

"I myself have given up trying to be great," says Lehofer. "In the past, when I gave a lecture, I thought it was about the audience saying: 'But he talked really well." In truth, it's about the people present taking the best for themselves. That should be my only claim. "

Self-love can prevent stress

In this respect, self-love also has to do with finding the right priorities in life. Why do I want to be successful? Because I want to do what I do in the best possible way for the benefit of others (and myself) - or because I really want to be admired by others. This is exactly where the fallacy lies: I will never be able to do something in the best possible way if I act on selfish motives.

"In the business world in particular, the word 'optimize' often plays a role. But the truth is: the self-loving always acts optimally. I say yes and do my best. "

And that is exactly what would eradicate the greatest social problems of our time: constant stress and excessive demands. Because that is exactly what happens when I want to give more than can be found in me. Someone who is close to themselves knows what to expect and what not.

Also read: "Since 1995 there has been a trend in upbringing that turns children into incapable adults"

And there is something else, as the psychiatrist emphasizes: “Love makes you calm because it gives you security. So when I love myself, then I give myself security and become calmer. Not only do I benefit from this, but everyone around me. "

It is a fatal development in our society that self-love is frowned upon and confused with egoism, while stress is more or less en vogue. One would be the solution for the other.