Updated: Dec 10, 2018
What is self-love? How do you do it?
Self-love. Self-care. “You have to love yourself first, before you can love anyone else.” These are words we hear regularly. Logically, we understand the meaning, but do we grasp the full concept? What does it mean to love your self? What does it mean to love? I’m talking about the pure, unconditional kind of love. I would argue that most would not be able to clearly answer this question. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition of ‘love’ is:
“(1) A strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; maternal love for a child (2) attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.”
The dictionary definition of ‘love’ itself offers no more clarity. The definition at most describes love as affection/attraction, but does not go any deeper. In addition it doesn’t tell you how to achieve love either. So what is love? I am more spiritual than religious, but I believe the bible quote 1 Corinthians 13 sums it up quite nicely.
“ 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So to add on to Merriam-Webster’s definition, love is affection and admiration that we give, free of expectations. We do not love to receive love; we love simply because we respect and admire what stands before us, simply for being. Most of us however, probably have not experienced a lot of this type of pure, unconditional love — no wonder we do not know how to love ourselves in this way!
So taking the above definition of ‘love,’ here’s how you apply it to yourself:
1. Know yourself
I mean really know YOUR self- strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes- strip away what your parents, friends, co-workers, etc. have made you think you should be. It sounds easy, but when you dig deep, you’ll realize a lot of the things that you think are “you,” are things that were programmed into you- which by no means is bad- just reevaluate and make sure those values and beliefs still ring true to your present self.
2. Accept yourself
Once you’ve uncovered all the things that make you, YOU- the good, bad, weird-as-hell, and ugly. Accept it. All of it. The good is obviously easy to accept, but the negatives, not so much. This does not mean you stop working on your weaknesses; it just means you stop judging and holding it against yourself. No one is perfect and no one can be skilled at everything so to demand that of yourself is silly.
One of my favorite quotes pertaining to this concept:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.- Albert Einstein
A fish will never be able to climb a tree, just as a squirrel will never be able to swim in the depths of an ocean and neither are trying to do these things/should be trying to do these things — so open up that beautiful mind of yours, expand your perspective, and accept that we are all awesome in different ways (*unless you’re a purposely, conniving a-hole).
Dedicate some time every day and get to know yourself, accept yourself, fall in love with yourself, and set the standard for how others should love you.