When someone is loving me, really loving me, and even saying “I love you!” or singing a love song for me, I can just ignore it. I can disbelieve them. I can think “They’re just joking. They don’t really mean it. They don’t really know who I am. They’re hiding their true dislike for me.”
When someone is being really mean to me, criticizing me, or insulting me, I can think “They wouldn’t even bother unless they cared. They want to show their love but they are afraid, so they are acting out. If they really showed love and I rejected them, they would feel really hurt, so instead they are chasing me away to stay safe.”
I went through a handful of “crushes” before I ever had a girlfriend. I felt in love with those girls but I kept it a secret. I don’t know if they knew or not - but in either case I doubt they felt the love I had for them. Love just doesn’t “transmit” that way. They cannot experience my love no matter how great and powerful the experience may be.
Everything that the people in my life do is because of love. When they put love in front of me, I can accept it and agree to it, and give it to myself on their behalf. I can also just drop it and leave it - reject it as false.
All the love that I’ve gotten, I gave myself. It is self-love. All the judgement and criticism I’ve gotten, I gave myself. It is self-criticism and self-judgement. If I don’t use it on myself, it has no impact on me whatsoever.
So, time to practice self-love.