Some would say that having needs, and striving to satisfy those needs, is a primary motivation force for living beings. If we are alive, we need to breathe, we need to eat, we need shelter, we need somewhere appropriate to live. And these needs must be met, because they are biological, and they ensure our survival. There are also psychological needs, such as the need for belonging and love, the need to love ourselves, the need for self-esteem.
Many people think that only the physiological needs must be met. If you have food, water and shelter, you want for nothing more. But humans beings are more complex than that. We need an array of other things that make our lives so complicated, so rich, so full of different possibilities.
Even those psychological needs like belonging or self-esteem can take a variety of forms. When we are children we depend on other people to satisfy them for us. When we are made to feel like we belong to a group of people (our family at first, but later on our group at school, etc.) we start to feel confident and protected. We feel that we are safe in the world and that we can do things that we want to do and we don’t have to beg for acceptance.
This in turn builds our self-esteem. We have already said that we become a reflection of our surroundings, and the way the people closer to us treat us will determine in an important way how we build ourselves. We are defined and constructed by the eyes of the others, by the language they use to describe us or to address us, by how they engage us in physicality (as a form of love or protection, or as a form of abuse). If said language and communications are positive, strengthening, we will be surrounded by positive self-concepts and ideas, and we will tend to grow strong. But if we are immersed in violence, cruelty, indifference, etc,. we will absorb them as incontrovertible proof that these things are what we are.
All people should receive love and caring from the womb, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Each one of us was born in a different set of circumstances, and in different degrees of family issues. You will find negative aspects even in the most loving of families, and this is a natural thing. We all come from different family histories, and when we form a family of our own, we have our own issues to resolve. Some of these issues we pass on to our children, without even wanting to do so.
And of course, there are many terrible stories of children who found themselves as part of a family where unspeakable, horrific things are the norm, and they need to find whatever mechanism necessary to survive. But surviving is not living. And these children one day become adults who grew with a very negative image about themselves, who have no idea what it is like to be loved, or to be cared for, and who therefore find it nearly impossible to love or care for themselves.
It is possible to learn to love yourself and to give yourself what you need. Depending on your personal history, it will take a varying degree of effort and commitment, patience and the will to find another way, a more peaceful, loving, joyous way.
The first thing you need to do to start is to believe it’s possible. Or at least to want to believe that it is possible. This will give you the opportunity to be open to receiving inspiration about different ways of protecting yourself, of giving yourself a little bit of love and compassion, even if it has been denied to you for a very long time.
You might have always felt that you didn’t belong to your family (I think everybody does, at one point or another), but sometimes you feel like you have to run away from them as soon and as far as possible. Of course, this is is not easy, for it involves much pain and sacrifice, and even more loneliness. But one of the wonderful things about adulthood is that you get to construct your own family. And I don’t mean having children. You can find kindred spirits, who enjoy the same activities you like, who have similar aspirations in life, who are capable of being compassionate and loving to you, who actually enjoy and are thankful for your presence in their life.
Even more important than this, you must realise that the first step to feeling accepted is to accept yourself. You need to feel like you belong in your life, in this life. That you deserve to love and be loved, to be free and creative and joyous and powerful and alive. That you have a place in this world and that you have a gift to give to this world that only you can share. That you are necessary. That even if you were given a lousy hand in life, you can still change, and grow, and choose direction in your life.
If you accept all of this, the rest is very easy. Because you will start to find people who are like you, and they will cherish you and respect you because of who you are, who you have become. You can teach so much to others, if only you accept yourself and start loving yourself as well.
The (re)construction of your self-esteem will stem from this self-acceptance. Your strength will sprout from the realisation that you have survived to so many different challenges, and your are so wise, and compassionate, and you are free. And somehow, even in your darkest hours, you managed to survive, to see the light of another day, and you wouldn’t have done that if you didn’t have so much personal power and resilience. Your strength and your drive, your will to survive and walk ahead are things you should be so proud about.
In the suffering, in the trials of your past, you have received so many gifts, and it is from these gifts that you can draw strength and a new life, where you feel you have a special place in this world and that you are here to do great things with your life.
Love and blessings!