Self-love appears to be tainted with negative connotations. The idea of loving yourself is loaded with preconceptions that you think you are better than another, that you are selfish, self centred and have an inflated ego. Is that really true or do we only feel that way because we lack self-love in our lives and when we see another being loving it reminds us that we are not?
How often do you hear people say: “You need to love yourself.” “If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t have let that happen.” “You can’t love another until you love yourself .” “The key to happiness and success starts with loving yourself.” Etc….? A million times I bet. You only have to watch an episode of Oprah and you will notice this theme come up over and over again.
But what is loving yourself? Is it really a selfish act, one where you think you’re better than another or is it something that is normal, caring and beneficial to who you are, your health and your state of being? Is it something that can be of benefit to you and to others?
I looked up the definition of self- love and this is what I found:
1. the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being, regard for love or love of one’s self, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
2. conceit; vanity, excessive pride
bighead, complacency, conceit, conceitedness, ego, egotism, pomposity, pompousness, pride, pridefulness, self-admiration, self-assumption, self-conceit, self-congratulation, self-esteem, self-glory, self-importance, self-opinion, self-satisfaction, smugness, swelled head, swellheadedness, vaingloriousness, vainglory, vainness, vanity
humbleness, humility, modesty
Wow! Ouch! That doesn’t seem like a positive thing at all – no wonder we have an issue with loving ourselves if thats what we have been taught to think!
The other thing I noticed is that people think self-love and self-esteem are the same thing and are interchangeable. But I beg to differ. Someone can think a lot of themselves and have high self esteem but still be very self abusive and uncaring of their body. Which certainly isn’t self-loving. Just look at people like celebrities, the very wealthy/successful for example who think they are it yet treat themselves very poorly.
Self-love is now a very popular term that gets tossed around in day to day conversation, thanks to TV shows like Oprah, yet the idea of someone saying they love themselves carries a lot of stigma. I feel we need to break down the negativity associated with being self-loving and get real with what self- love truly is.
Self-love is important to living well and being well. It influences who you choose as friends, for a partner, how you are at work, how you cope with the problems in your life, what you eat and drink and how you care for yourself and what you will or will not allow in your life.
What is self-love, then? Is it something you can buy like new clothes? Can you get it by reading a self help book or something inspirational? Or, does it come from a new relationship, new job, moving house, a new hobby? The answer to all of these questions is No! These things may make you feel good and are certainly satisfying but you can’t get self-love through others or outside things. Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good it is an action. It is the little things that you do to care for yourself on a daily basis.
Self-love actually begins with saying NO. No to the things, actions and behaviours that do not truly support you or your body. It begins with saying no to things that are not loving, gentle or caring for your body. It starts with saying no to pushing yourself too hard, taking on too much and putting everyone else’s needs before your own.
Self-love is about choosing things that work for you and your body physically, mentally and emotionally. Self-love is about making choices that allow you to develop a deeper level of self appreciation so that you can give your body the care and attention that it deserves.
By committing to being gentle with yourself, you develop a consistency in how your are from your actions, self-talk, relationships, diet and exercise that come together to form a way that you live that helps to foster your self-love. Self-love is about committing to yourself and not compromising who you are, treating yourself with respect and expecting nothing less in return.
As you become more self-loving, the easier it is as the love and care you have in and for your body starts to grow. Living self-lovingly means you naturally become more accepting and appreciative, compassionate and understanding of self and others.
Over the last decade I would freely say that I have become a more self-loving person. This means that yes I do put my self first but it does NOT mean I think I am better than you or anyone else for that matter. It simply means that I care for myself, that I care for myself deeply.
I have seen some wonderful changes in my health and wellbeing, relationships and work since introducing self-love into my life. And would say that these changes have made me more loving and caring of others.
Loving yourself is a win-win for all. It provides you with a state of wellbeing and inner contentment, a confidence and peace of mind that is not easily swayed by outside events and opinions. It enables you to make healthier choices and the best decisions in all areas of your life from your diet and exercise to intimate relationships to your finances. It allows you to be more genuinely loving towards others and to be of greater service to the world at large. Ultimately, the more you love yourself, the more everything and everyone you encounter benefits.
Simply put self-love is a prerequisite to loving others. Your relationships are only as strong as the foundation of your self-love. Let go any belief you may hold that loving yourself is selfish or egotistical and replace it with the truth that your very essence is love, that unconditional self-love is your natural way of living . You cannot experience true love without first loving yourself. And when you can say that you know this for a fact you will have discovered the truth that self-love truly is the greatest love of all.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Siddhartha Gautama Buddha