Let's all look at the big picture. Because I started this with one particular person in mind but suddenly my list of who I hoped would read this looked like those pictures you see of Santa with his long list of names on paper unrolling, and I realized it's meant for every one of us.
Please though, be forgiving. It's 3:49 am and although I'm mighty tired, me believing that we are here for one another's benefit is the only real hope I have -- so although this isn't as fleshed out as I'd like, I'm posting. And although I may sound preachy -- yes, no, maybe, I don't know -- believing we are here for one another's benefit is the only real faith I have.
Maybe it's like an addiction in that you don't give it up based on others' suggestions that you do so. "It" being a negative perception of yourself that you can't shake. "It" being that you see rejection as failure. Rejection is not failure; rejection has as much to do with the "editor" as it does with the writer. This goes for all relationships.
You don't give up the negative perception, you don't quit the self-loathing -- not because you don't want to, of course you want to believe you are beautiful/handsome AND smart AND good -- but because YOU are the only one who can make you believe it for certain. Like giving up cigarettes, or any other "substance" we know is not good for us or has control of us, we can only quit when WE decide we've had enough, and we really have to want to quit more than we want the comfort of what is killing us. We have to want to choose life, but we have to first realize that we are dying -- and that we are fully responsible for that act.
Loving yourself is like that. Once you realize that NOT loving yourself is killing you, you can learn to survive by loving yourself, but to love yourself you have to respect yourself and to respect yourself you have to demand that others respect you as well as do things that others (whom you, yourself respect) find respectable. Gah. That's an incredible amount of expectation.
If you abuse someone, that is not loving, and doing so allows them to retalitate, to disrespect you in return, with, in their mind, good reason, because you've disrespected them.
If someone abuses you and you allow it, that, too causes them to lose respect for you. So even if you are not the type of person to retaliate, if you are, instead the type of person who tolerates abuse from others, you still lose because you'll continue to be mistreated no matter how tolerant or forgiving you are. No one respects someone who doesn't respect themselves enough to command respect, at all times, from others. Even if it means being unpopular. Even if it means going "unloved" because really it does not. It means you are loving yourself by accepting no less than any other human being deserves.
If you are abused or are in an abusive relationship, whether it be with yourself or with someone else, stop it. If you can't stop it, get out. You may not have the life you thought you were going to have. That doesn't matter. You'll have a life that you cherish. You'll have a life you're happy to open your eyes for in the morning (okay, you'll have bad days too, but you get the gist). If you don't stop others from mistreating you, and believe me, mistreatment can be as subtle as snide, condescending remarks or as in-your-face as a fist, if YOU don't decide that you want happiness, you won't have it. And unhappiness will become a habit. It will begin to feel like an old familiar coat you don't want to throw out because it conforms to your body so well. You are so used to it.
Everyone will see how worn out you are, like the coat, but you won't notice until you are no longer warm.
I know, loving yourself is not as easy as buying a new coat. You've found that out by now, I'm sure. You've tried all the consolation prizes. There are none. You've discovered where the real love begins. With your own action.