Thirty-one years ago, I discovered that learning to love myself was the secret to emotional healing, as well as to joy, inner fullness and fulfillment, and the ability to share love with others — as opposed to always trying to get love. I was stunned when spirit brought me this profound information, along with the pathway to get there, which has become to message of much of my work.
Now, many others are starting to discover the importance of self-love. We’re having something of a love (yourself) revolution.
Unfortunately, though, most people have no idea what that actually means. So, in this article, I aim to shed some clarity on what it means to love yourself — and what it doesn’t mean.
When you love yourself, your achievements are an expression of your being rather than a definition of your being.
What Loving Yourself Doesn’t Mean
1. Being selfish.
We are selfish when we “take care of ourselves” with no concern for the effect our behavior has on others or when we expect others to give themselves up for us — do what we want them to do rather than what they want or need to do.
2. Indulging unhealthily.
It isn’t rewarding yourself for a hard day by over-spending, over-eating or eating junk, over-drinking, or over-using technology.
3. Justifying your unloving behavior toward others.
It isn’t about blaming others, getting angry at others, by telling yourself you have the right to feel however you feel. Of course you have the right to all of your feelings. That doesn’t mean it is loving to yourself to (or anyone else) to dump your feelings on others.
4. Ignoring any of your feelings.
It’s not about trying not to feel negative sensations, by staying in your head, judging yourself, numbing out with addictions or making others responsible for your feelings.
What Loving Yourself Does Mean
One of the best ways of understanding what loving yourself means is imagining how you’d love a child.
1. Attending to your feelings with compassion.
Loving parents listen to how their children feel with caring, tenderness, gentleness, understanding and an intent to learn. Loving yourself means the same thing — acknowledging your feelings with consideration and an intent to understand what your feelings are telling you. All your feelings are informational, so it’s important to learn from them rather than ignore them.
2. Curtailing self-destructive behavior or a lack of consideration toward others.
Loving parents do not indulge self-destruction in their children, nor do they allow their children to harm others. Loving yourself means that you exert appropriate and kind internal discipline — not harming yourself with addictions or acting out towards others.
3. Protecting your physical health.
Loving parents care for their children’s health by providing healthy food, plenty of exercise, enough sleep, and healthy boundaries regarding screen time. Loving yourself is the same — eating well, getting enough exercise, and prioritizing sleep.
4. Spending quality time with yourself.
Loving parents spend focused time with their children — playing with them, listening to them and mirroring their wonderful intrinsic soul qualities. They help their children value their own identities, rather than attaching their worth to their looks or achievements.
Loving yourself means listening to yourself, honoring your feelings and intuition, and consciously commenting on your intrinsic soul qualities — rather than judging yourself. It means defining your worth by your caring, compassion, kindness, curiosity, generosity and so on, rather than by external definitions. When you love yourself, your achievements are an expression of your being rather than a definition of your being.
5. Teaching yourself to trust the universe.
Loving parents provide a positive spiritual connection for their children, helping them learn to trust that they are never alone in the universe, and to receive comfort and wisdom from their higher power. Loving yourself means learning to connect with your personal source of spiritual guidance so you can receive the comfort and wisdom that is always available to you.
6. Protecting your finances.
Loving parents do all they can to make sure that their children are safe financially — never having to worry about having enough food, clothing and shelter. They manage their finances in a way that models taking personal financial responsibility. Likewise, loving yourself means that you do all you can to make yourself safe financially — living within your means and not getting into unnecessary debt.
7. Treating others as you would like to be treated (and treating yourself that way, too.)
Loving parents teach their children to be kind to themselves and others. Loving yourself also means being kind to both yourself and others.
One of the very best things you can do for your children and for other children in your life is to become a role model of loving behavior toward yourself. Children learn from your actions, so the more you learn to love yourself, the more they learn to love themselves.