[OP-ED] The Key To Healthy Relationships: Self-Awareness and Self-Love

[OP-ED] The Key To Healthy Relationships: Self-Awareness and Self-Love

Written by Gee Session-Smalls, love coach, blogger, philanthropist. @JuanandGee

Everyone wants to know the secret to finding love. Most will be surprised to hear that love is not something to be found, but rather something to be realized within yourself.

Before you can ever have a successful relationship with another person, you must have a healthy relationship with yourself. While many of us are quick to proclaim self-love, many of us haven’t a clue as to what that means. To love you, sounds easy, but it’s probably the most challenging part of life.

[Related: March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day]

So, how does one even start the process of self-love?  It is through self-awareness. We are all made up of two parts–our natural self and our ego. Our natural self, who we are the day we were born, is what many refer to as intuition, spirit or soul.  It is the part of us that has all the wisdom, all the solutions to our problems. It’s that voice or feeling we get when we know we are not making the highest choice. The ego is formed based off of your life experiences and is typically quite nicely in place by junior high school. It is made up of what was taught to us by society, peers and, of course, our parents or those who raised us. Once you can learn to distinguish between the ego and self, you can then know who you are as a whole, which brings about compassion, understanding and self-love.

It is essential to ensure that our youth, no matter how they show up, are met with the love of caring and concerned adults–family members, educators and mentors. They must be able to show up safely at school, home and in their communities without having to hide or modify their identities.

Have you ever looked at a child and admired how free and expressive they are without caring what anyone thinks? Being who we really are allows us to be authentic and true. The process of living an authentic life can be stressful, especially for LGBTQ/SGL (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, same-gender loving) youth who are coming to terms with who they are and where they fit in society. As years pass, we are taught that who we are should be tucked away so that the ego can fit in with everyone else. It is after all why most of us live a large part of our lives in the closet. It is in our adulthood that we struggle with coming out, getting back to who we really are.

Self-awareness is often a challenging process and one that is never ending, but it provides life’s most precious reward: Love.

The National Black Justice Coalition and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in collaboration with Black Enterprise are excited to celebrate and honor unapologetic black LGBTQ/SGL history makers, as well as highlighting promising and proven strategies to provide safe and supportive environments in which African American LGBTQ/SGL self-identified youth can learn and develop. The Initiative and NBJC will co-host the White House Summit to Support African American LGBTQ Youth in June.