Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Self-Love: Why Should It Matter to You?

Why Should Self-Love Matter to You

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”  – Lao Tzu

How do you feel when you hear the phrase “self-love?”  What thoughts come to your mind?

For a very long time, most of my life actually, I felt aversion to the idea of self-love. You could sum it up in one word:  “Yuck.”  The notion of self-love often evokes knee-jerk reactions and judgments like this, doesn’t it?

Resistance, guilt, unworthiness, unease, self-indulgence, aversion, tightening – these are just a few common responses that might arise when you hear someone say, “Love yourself.”

These are the boulders blocking your way on the path to self love.

It’s likely they’ve been installed for a good reason:  To protect you in some mysterious way.

But there comes a time when the pain of constant self-dislike or indifference is no longer bearable.  It’s time to start moving those boulders aside.

So begin by taking a moment to consider the questions below.  If you’ve already made strides in loving yourself, it might be interesting to ask them nevertheless. There might be places where you’re still holding back.

  • What does the phrase “self-love” evoke within you?
  • Why might that be?

Then sit with what you discover and see if any further insights arise.

Self-Love Is a Necessity Not a Luxury

If you look at self-love with disdain, consider what the Dalai Lama says about love:

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

This includes self-love too, don’t you think?

Due to conditioning as a child or negative experiences as an adult, you may not believe you are deserving of love. So you may attempt to exist without this basic necessity.  No one ever explained that your health, happiness, and even your very survival may depend upon love.  You may trivialize self-love, push it into the background, and stay busy with everything else.

On the other hand, once you recognize the necessity of self-love for a happy life, you may go on a binge.  You may even confuse self-care rituals for self-love.  That’s okay for a while, but focusing only on yourself won’t lead to the genuine, lasting happiness you deserve.

If self-care isn’t self-love, what is self-love?

I define self-love as a mix of positive self-regard, self-acceptance, and a wish for your own happiness.  On a feeling level, I find self-love brings warmth, tenderness, and relaxation.  Self-love is expressed through a variety of activities like self-care, alignment with your values, and following your dreams, which we’ll explore below.

How would you define self-love?

The Attitude of Self-Love

Self-love then is a change of attitude as well as a feeling from the heart.  On the dimension of attitude, here are some positive beliefs that go along with self-love:

  • I am lovable.
  • I am good.
  • I deserve to exist.
  • I count.
  • My happiness matters.
  • I don’t have to be perfect to love myself or to be loved.

This list is just a sample.  There are many more positive beliefs that go along with self-love.  What others come to your mind?

How does it feel when you read those statements to yourself?  Is there one or more than one that instantaneously give rise to an inner protest?  What does that critical inner voice say?

Take some time to explore any beliefs you have that keep you from loving yourself.

Why Self-Love Matters

Now lets get specific about why healthy self love matters by looking at some of the ways it can manifest in and improve your life.  You can use this section as a checklist of sorts to see where you excel in actualizing self-love and which areas you could strengthen.

Self-Love | Self-Acceptance | Self-Care

Healthy self-love means knowing who you are: Your needs, desires, dreams, and your personality type.  If you live according to childhood or societal conditioning or someone else’s expectations, you will not fulfill your life purpose, the very reason you are on this earth.  Your happiness will always be contingent upon others, so you’ll probably be constantly subjected to ups and downs.  [Read more about how knowing your personality type can make a significant difference in the quality of your life.]

Healthy self-love means taking better care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Here’s an example from my life.  When I’ve done short periods of loving-kindness for myself, I’ve felt less inclined to binge on excess food because I felt nourished by self-love.  If you don’t love yourself, you’ll probably cut corners when it comes to self-care or neglect it entirely.  That can lead to illness, distress, and even a shorter life span.

Healthy self-love means istening to your inner voice, intuition, and the messages of your body.  When you don’t listen to your inner wisdom, your life becomes a series of detours taking you down unhelpful and unsatisfying paths.

Healthy self-love means finding your own voice and expressing it with more and more confidence.  It’s impossible to get your needs met, satisfy your desires, or achieve your dreams, if you’re not able to speak up and speak out.  Dampening your voice will just leave you frustrated and insecure.

Healthy self love means staying aligned with your personal values, intentions, and goals.  Your life is precious.  You are here for a reason.  A person who loves herself stays on track with her own vision so her life feels meaningful, rewarding, and complete.

Healthy self-love means establishing and honoring your personal boundaries.  Weak boundaries are a clear sign of a lack of self-love.  When you appreciate yourself, know yourself, and align with your own values, setting personal boundaries becomes a natural expression of a whole and healthy self.

Healthy self-love means accepting your whole self, the positive and the negatives.  No one is perfect.  Your challenges and weakness likely came about due to a gap or trauma in your childhood experience.  So have compassion for yourself.  Accept the sticky parts of yourself without judgment while you gently work on them.

Healthy self-love means speaking kindly to yourself.  A strong inner critic is another call for self-love, the ultimate medicine.  You don’t deserve harsh words – ever.  When you speak to yourself tenderly, you will have an entirely different experience of your life.  [Read more: Nurturing Self-Talk:  A Kinder Voice Inside Your Head.]

Healthy self-love means prioritizing your well-being and happiness.  If you don’t make your happiness a priority, who will?  Will it just happen by chance?  That doesn’t mean being self-centered, selfish, or neglecting the needs of others.  In fact, when you love yourself, you have more love to give.

There was a time when I didn’t focus on any of this.  I can now happily say I embrace every single one of these expressions of self-love, though I’m still learning how to fully bring them alive.

Creating the Ambiance of Self-Love

While there are many ways to cultivate a feeling of self-love, my favorite is repeating the loving-kindness phrases to myself:

May I be well.

May I be happy.

May I be safe.

I sometimes repeat them to myself as a practice while sitting in meditation for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.  I alternate them with resting meditation or focusing on the breath.  I also use them during the day when I feel I need a reminder that I’m worthy, good, and deserving of love. [Read more about meditation:  21 Meditation Tips You Need to Know As a Beginner.]

It might feel awkward to use these phrases at first. That’s one of the points.  They bring up our discomfort so our wounds can be healed and our whole self restored.  As you learn to love yourself, you’ll probably need to face some of your pains and hurts.

On the other hand, nothing might happen at all.

But keep with it.  These phrases are powerful.  They will cut through the muck so you gradually feel more kindness, gentleness, and tenderness for yourself.  Without that foundation, it’s impossible to build a truly meaningful life.

Let’s End the Epidemic of So Little Self-Love

There’s an epidemic of self-doubt, self-criticism, low-self esteem, and even self-hatred, especially among women, in the West.

It doesn’t serve anyone, in any way. Please really think about that.

You don’t have to continue circling in these self-abusive states.  You have the power to change your thoughts and transform you emotions entirely within you.

It may not be easy to turn around decades of unhappy patterns, but people do it by taking small steps every day.  So get started now!  I bet you’ll be amazed by who you become over the next few years.

Self-love, what does it mean to you?  How does it feel and manifest in your life?  I would love to hear.  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free resources in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

Previous

Climate Change: 3 Ways You Can Make a Difference Through Mindful Consumption

Next

How to Accept Yourself No Matter What

21 Comments

  1. I love the timing of reading this because this weekend, for me, is about doing only things that light my heart and feel refreshing and ‘good’. After a week of ‘giving too much’ (but knowing that was temporary and situational) this is one way to show myself “I love you”.

    I like that you chose this topic and that you wrote so thoroughly about what you consider healthy self-love to be. That gives people a reflection to feel into to expand their own understanding and open in their practice of self-love to include some aspects they might not have considered. What a beautiful gift!

    I hadn’t known love as a child, and I didn’t think through the idea of self-love until a decade ago, and only in the last few years have begun practicing, with focus. At first it felt very unfamiliar, and now it’s a part of who I am – but only after lots of practice, one intentional step at a time.

    Self-care feels very different to me than self-love. I could care for myself, even while in abuse, and when I didn’t love myself, because that was part of ‘maintaining’ my human body and divine spirit.

    I feel that part of ‘why’ I stayed in an abuse pattern for so long was the absence of self-love (as an understanding, not a judgment). It would frustrate me when people would counsel to ‘love myself enough to leave’ – because there is much more to the dynamic than that. Although eventually I did choose to step out of the patterning and much later, learn self-love (so it wasn’t necessary in order to leave, but I did find self-love essential to healing on a deep level, and not accepting or tolerating abuse in my life).

    For me, self-love, self-forgiveness, self-compassion are all interwoven – meaning they are flowing with each other; I found that practicing one also heals and opens my heart in the other areas. And that affects my entire life – how I feel in it, and how life feels to be in.

    It’s in my heart to also say if someone is reading this and realizes they haven’t known or practiced self-love or an aspect that you share in the definitions of self-love, that’s okay. It’s best (for peace in your heart as you consider these ideas) to realize there are many reasons self-love might not have been in your past knowing or experience, and reading about it and opening your heart to it is a great start.

    And, again, Sandra, you provided a beautiful reflection for your readers to feel into.

    • Dear Joy,

      I’m so inspired to hear that you’re spending the weekend refreshing yourself! Your story is a testimony to the possibility of positive change however dire our circumstances. I appreciate how it took many small steps to integrate self-love into who you are.

      I think you are so right, our personal dynamics are so complex it’s impossible to pigeonhole them one way or the other. And often, it feel impossible to do what seems “obvious” to others. It helps to hear that you didn’t have to perfect self-love to leave an abusive situation, but self-love has been integral in healing the deepest aspects of that patterning.

      I love how you see the interconnection among self-love, self-forgiveness, and self-compassion and the way that their practice has such a positive influence on your life. I didn’t write about the last two elements explicitly so I’m really glad you are drawing them out here.

      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement to for people who haven’t known self-love before.

      You are very welcome. This is also an important reflection for me, Joy.

  2. I love the idea of the ambience of self-love Sandra. Immersing ourselves in love always raises the velocity of our energy. And as we know, the higher energy we live in, the more beautiful our life is.

    This is a great reminder for so many of us who come at the bottom of the pile where love is concerned and that helps no-one! 🙂

  3. What a wonderful post and comments, Sandra! I didn’t know anything about self-love or real self-care until I became involved with RC . In an RC session, the person being counselor beams love and acceptance at the person being client and constantly reminds the client that they are good and that they are worthy of love and that anything that they were told different from that is not true. The client crys or shakes or otherwise “discharges” the old hurts that keep them from loving themselves. It sounds simplistic, but it really works if you REALLY do it :). And it sticks! 🙂

    • I love this, Jean: “In an RC session, the person being counselor beams love and acceptance at the person being client and constantly reminds the client that they are good and that they are worthy of love and that anything that they were told different from that is not true.” How wonderful. RC has given your and so many others so much. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. Always a great topic, Sandra, but it seems so especially these days.

    I might have told you this story before, so forgive me if it’s a repeat. Some years back, I was leading a women’s retreat. I asked the women in the room to describe themselves the way that someone (person, God, dog) who loved them the most would describe them. I did this so that they could speak through someone else’s perspective. I thought it might be easier that way to voice what is wonderful about themselves.

    I was wrong. The women still had a very difficult time describing themselves in glowing terms even if it was through someone else’s eyes. So the conversation changed to why it’s so hard to see ourselves in a positive way, or even to acknowledge how someone else sees us in a positive way. They responded, saying that it seemed wrong, or arrogant, or prideful, or vain, or not humble, or that they were not worthy, or something else along those lines.

    That was a real eye-opener for me. We are so programmed, especially as women but men suffer from it too, to see ourselves from the worst angle. We spent the rest of that morning at the retreat examining what no one had really questioned till then. And while I don’t know that they left that session full of self love, at least they left with a bit more self understanding and a willingness to explore the possibility that self love was a good thing.

    I wonder if this endemic lack of self love is to some degree cultural. The story is told of the Dalai Lama meeting with western Buddhist leaders, who listed self-hatred as a big issue. The Dalai Lama was reportedly mystified by this concept. I don’t know if the story is true, but it does make me wonder if the phenomenon is necessarily part of the human condition, or if it is a learned perspective which is more prominent in some cultures than others.

    • What an eye-opening experience, Galen! Sadly, it seems so true, there’s an epidemic of self-contempt in our culture. The first step of course, is always understanding and I bet that session was eye-opening to everyone who was there.

      I’ve heard that Dalai Lama story many times. I suspect it’s true. While I think people in all cultures have a problem with the 5 main negative emotions, we seem to have a special twist on self-contempt in the West. It’s sad that we have so much on a material level, but are so lacking of this basic sense of self-honoring, which colors everything in our life.

  5. I like that you break down what healthy self-love means. A few years ago, I had found out that not many people know what it means to practice self-love. It’s great that more and more are discovering the benefits of loving oneself.

    • Hello Evelyn, I had to reflect on it for awhile because I also find it’s not easy to pinpoint what self-love actually is! And I’m sure it manifests in different ways for different people. it doesn’t feel like we’re beginning to embrace self-love on a wider scaler. Like you, I hope the trend continues.

    • Yes, isn’t it wonderful that more people are opening to self-love! Thank you, Evelyn.

  6. I love your connection of self-love being expressed through a variety of activities including self-care. I have found that when I focus daily on my own self-care, the ability to handle life’s challenges in a calm and peaceful way is increased. It helps me feel more relaxed, kind, and happy.

    I find that when women feel their families are struggling for any reason, which we all do from time to time, moms have a hard time holding on to self-love. They blame themselves for any family issues and struggle to move past that self-blame.

    Your article is a great reminder that we all do better when we love and take care of ourselves first.

    • These are such important insights for women to understand, Cathy. Thank you for sharing them. If we could let go of this tendency to feel guilty and blame ourselves, everyone would feel much better. Here’s to healing on the deepest of levels.

  7. I love you ambience of self love and going to use that in my meditation tomorrow Self-love is so important and knowing who you are and what you stand for is a great starting point. Thanks for all your healthy self-love points xxoo

  8. I love that you have clarified the definition of ‘self-love’. There are still many people who see self-love as selfish, egotistical or narcissistic when in fact is essential for a happy and balanced life <3

  9. Love this post and I especially advocate Self Love…so this is just a beautiful beautiful resource.
    Your loving-kindness phrases to yourself are just precious!
    xoxo, Z~

  10. Just what I needed to read. Thank you for digging into all the reasons why as well as the information on how to address this. It could be my life’s work 🙂

    • I think it’s my life’s work too, but I’m finding it to be a more natural part of myself as I strip away the conditioning. I wish you the best with this, dear Annabel.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén