What Really is Self-Love?

photo of woman doing heart shaped hand gestures

Self-Love is a term thrown around a lot nowadays. It’s a difficult term to unpack, as it encompasses other terms such as self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect. Because it’s such a loaded term, I’m not sure that people always use it correctly. It’s said that you must love yourself before you can truly love another person. I didn’t used to subscribe to that philosophy; but I have found that it’s true that if you’re not right with yourself, you’ll have great difficulty in dealing with others.

Over the years, I have come to realize that, yes, you must help yourself before helping others. But, some folks worry that simply “loving” one’s self can actually lead to selfish, prideful behavior. You really don’t want that. But, my friends, self-love doesn’t have anything to do with pride.

Now, I don’t believe in the power of attraction nonsense many of these “self-help” books prescribe. But, I do agree that your intentions are everything when it comes to self-improvement. However, it’s not as simple as working on self-love for the sake of attracting other people to loving you. You can’t control what other people think of you. The hardest part of self-love is learning to love yourself as you are, in a humble and respectful way, regardless of what others might say.

Gaining healthy self-love means learning true self-confidence in your abilities. However, you must not get cocky. I’ll admit that I’ve been cocky in the past about my writing skills, to the great chagrin of my peers. But I learned fairly early on in my life that, as is the case with everything, there’s always going to be someone better than you at any given thing. I’m never going to be the best writer, or best anything, but rather the best at what I do that no one else can.

The best thing to do is to learn from those that are better at something than you in order to improve your own knowledge and skills. Then, figure out how someone else is actually better at something than you. Is there a certain approach? Is there some topic or field you could investigate that could benefit you with reaching your goals? Is there a particular process that you’ve never considered that has brought others success? 

In any case, you need to educate yourself about your betters. Don’t simply blindly admire them, or worse, become envious and jealous of them. Mastering self-love means learning to appreciate yourself and what you are capable of, while also being open to constantly finding ways to improve yourself. While true, healthy self-love can be difficult to master, it’s an important skill for every one of us to develop.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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