The Need for Love vs Self-Acceptance

Keen Category: Spiritual Advice

Woman looking at herself in bathroom mirror

It is amazing to discover that a multitude of people describe themselves as miserable. What is more surprising is that many of these individuals did not suffer traumatic events in their backgrounds. So where does this unhappiness come from? One often hears the statement, "I need love in order to be happy." Ok, fair enough, but where did that need come from?

Things like love and validation that you think you need in order to be happy are not innate or instinctive like food, sleep and water. The "need" for love and validation, in large part, was created and implanted into your consciousness by television, movies, advertising, the Internet, magazines, or what we call "mass media."

Mass media has a powerful motivation to spawn these needs during the most vulnerable years of your life – financial gain! The diet, fitness and wedding industries in America pull in billions of dollars every year. Advertising also pushes cars, clothes, furniture, alcohol, anti-depressants, self-help books, and anything else that can create a need in our psyches and be capitalized on to make a profit.

Have you ever closely watched commercials for pizza and fast food? Did you ever notice how food is transformed into fetish-love objects? That's not an accident. When people hate themselves they'll turn to anything that gives them a sense of gratification and control. The fast food industry makes billions of dollars every year and it never wants you to lose your need for love and validation.

The anxiety and unrealistic expectations created by images showing us how we are somehow inadequate or what we should have to achieve happiness result in unfulfilling relationships and endless craving. Our "needs" can never be fully satisfied.

Instead of asking, "Why can't I find love in order to be happy?" the question should be, "What's wrong with the way I am right now?" Once that is asked, the "need" grinds to a halt. Seriously question what is wrong with the way you are. It really is true that no one is perfect. You will probably also have to admit that you are not nearly as bad as you've been led to believe by television, movies and magazines.

One view of the good old days, before the invention of mass media, is that people judged themselves more by their actions:

  • Am I self-sufficient?
  • Am I a good neighbor?
  • Do I make a positive contribution to the society I live in?
  • Do I pull my weight financially?
  • Am I law-abiding?
  • Am I an active member within my place of worship?
  • Do I take care of my family?

A couple centuries ago, people didn't worry about love and validation. Those who went on to do great things judged themselves by their actions. There was an element of decadence, as there is now, but things like neuroses, insecurity, mood disorders, eating disorders and the idea that we need external things in order to repair internal issues were not as prevalent as they are now.

Before the onset of mass media, people were not preoccupied with being love-worthy because they already possessed a sense of self-respect. That privilege has eluded us after being brainwashed by the advertisers into thinking we are somehow defective. Over the course of our lives, we've watched and listened to millions of commercials that have told us we are poor, fat, ugly and losers. We've allowed ourselves to be conditioned into paying too much attention to our so-called "defects" and to disregard our behavior.

Even worse, we've allowed ourselves to believe that when we do judge ourselves on our conduct we're being self-centered and egocentric. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in sociology to figure out that people who base their self-worth on their actions won't be motivated to spend every nickel they have on superficial pursuits because they won't feel that "need" to be deemed love-worthy.

The most important relationship you are ever going to have is the one you have with yourself. Otherwise, you will always feel that gnawing "need." Children grow up and live their own lives. A mate may temporarily satiate that "need" but will never actually be able to fulfill the craving that arises each day. Becoming famous will never feed a desire for love and validation. The history of both Hollywood and pop music shows that mass love is never enough - there are plenty of celebrities who have succumbed to suicide, substance abuse, eating disorders and numerous failed relationships.

Ultimately, you have to accept and respect yourself. It's time to ask the right questions. What exactly do you do? Chances are that what you do is positive, so you must be a positive member of your community. And if you are a positive member of your community, how bad can you be? This is not an easy or quick fix remedy to achieve happiness. The concept is easy to understand, but nearly impossible to accept internally. But start asking the right questions and your self-acceptance will start to look more real than you think.

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