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Ernie & The Crossroad of Loving Yourself

Updated: May 28

As we travel through life, it’s often easy to lose sight of what’s important and get caught up in the chaos of relationships. Ernie is one such person who, after a tumultuous year apart from his wife, learned an invaluable lesson - no matter the circumstances, learning to appreciate who God made you to be and respecting yourself is important before you can enter healthy relationships with others.

Ernie called me. He wanted to discuss a path to divorce his wife while minimizing the impact on his family. I quickly let him know I was not the one to help.

Against my best advice, Ernie left his wife.

The next year, he spiraled into a deep depression and doubted himself more than ever before. It felt like his world had ended. But then, one day, he realized that his inability to respect others began with his inability to respect himself. He couldn’t love his wife when he hated himself.

Learning to love and respect yourself is a major crossroad that entrepreneurs all eventually face. Rebuilding relationships with others sometimes begins with rebuilding the relationship with ourselves.

Not only is this a crossroad that we may face, but as leaders, we will be called to walk with others as they face it. Entrepreneurs are wise to understand this as unhealthy relationships can have a drastic effect on the performance of a team.

Ernie realized that the only way to move on from his pain was to focus on being the person he would respect. Once he did that, he could find true fulfillment again - this time within himself.

One year later, he came to see me. Walking into my office, the first words out of his mouth were, “You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.”

He and his wife of 40 years were back together and committed to rebuilding a healthy marriage.

For the past year, Ernie had done the hard work of focusing on getting healing for himself. He came to realize that hurting people hurt people. The reason he had toxic relationships began inside himself.

When we can truly respect ourselves, we are better able to give and receive love. We’re also more likely to be in healthy and fulfilling relationships. Here are some other benefits of learning to live at peace with yourself:

1. You’ll be happier.

The self-respect that leads to healthy relationships means first taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally. A healthy love for your own health means making choices that are good for you and your overall well-being. Forgiving others starts with forgiving yourself. Respecting others starts with respecting yourself.

What God does for you, you can then do for others.

2. You’ll have more energy.

Caring for yourself emotionally and physically will give you more energy to do the things you love. When you have more energy, you can put it toward your passions and goals.

By eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep will give you more energy.

Freeing yourself from negative emotions also releases energy.

3. You’ll be healthier.

Taking care of yourself physically is one way to show self-respect, but it also leads to physical health benefits. When you’re healthy, you feel better mentally and emotionally as well. Plus, being healthy reduces stress levels and helps prevent diseases.

Action steps

If you want to love others well, you must first learn to love yourself. Here are some action steps you can take to develop this:

1. Spend time with yourself.

Get to know who you are, what you like and dislike, your strengths and weaknesses, etc. The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to give yourself to others.

2. Accept yourself for who you are.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to improve yourself, but it does mean that you need to accept your current reality. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect - we all have room for improvement!

3. Learn to forgive yourself.

We all make mistakes; it’s part of being human. If you can’t forgive yourself for your past mistakes, it will be difficult to move forward and truly love yourself.

This Valentine’s Day, remember that you are worthy of love, just as you are. You deserve to be loved and cared for, just as much as anyone else does. Just because you have made mistakes in the past does not mean that you do not deserve love. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves to be forgiven and loved.

True success happens when those that know you the best love you the most.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Harry T. Jones

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