In some ways, you could consider self-love to be the same as self-esteem. However, self-esteem tends to be more about how competent and effective we feel we are. Whereas self-love is more about acceptance and loving ourselves just the way we are.
In society today, we expend a lot of energy looking to external solutions to fix internal challenges. For example, we hit the high street with our credit card for some retail therapy to compensate for any rejection or loneliness we feel inside.
Then, on a more extreme note, we can find ourselves spending hours searching for the best personal loan companies to buy material things to “keep up with the Jones.’”
In addition to material things, we often look to another person to feel loved. As John Gray (author of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus) puts it, we first need to fill ourselves up with self-love, so that we are overflowing, rather than clambering onto our partner, in dependence. Like two thirsty people in an arid desert trying to squeeze love out of the other. Such a situation is a recipe for codependency. It is sure to lead to an unfulfilling retaliatory relationship where love is offered and received almost on a transactional basis.
When searching to feel loved, it is easy to end up chasing people that do not value us. It can sometimes become almost addictive. This chronic state of neediness comes from a place of low self-worth and low self-esteem. This lack of self-love is where we are not able to value ourselves enough to feel comfortable; meaning we look to others to fill us up.
The truth is that nobody can ever truly love you until you truly love you.
As trite as it may sound, the only way to feel truly happy is to have inner happiness, and that happiness or self-love will not come from getting the latest and greatest. It will come from being happy with who you are, as a person, and grateful for the life you have.
Self-love could be re-phrased as self-acceptance. When you accept yourself as you are right now, and love yourself just for being you (despite your flaws, despite your failures, and despite your past poor decisions) your life truly begins to open up. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a mid-life crisis or traumatic divorce to break us down. A bit like Humpty Dumpty, to allow us to build ourselves back together, we need glue (aka self-love).
Louise Hay, one of the world’s leading experts in this area of self-love states:
“To me, love is a deep appreciation. When I talk about loving ourselves, I mean having a deep appreciation for who we are. We accept all the different parts of ourselves—our little peculiarities, the embarrassments, the things we may not do so well, and all the wonderful qualities, too.”
How do you practice self-care?
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