Most of the definitions I came across define self love as: 1. Conceit 2. Narcissism 3. actions that promote one’s own advantage, well fare or well being. Narcissism and conceit takes self love to the extreme and is very unhealthy. As I dug deeper reading articles and blog posts, I soon realized that the perception of self love is generally based on actions, the way you care for yourself or the way you promote your self with others for your own selfish advantage.
If love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection, than we know it is a feeling and not an action. One definition of feelings is a belief. So then self love is the intense belief you have about your self. If the belief is positive then you have a healthy sense of self love. However if it is a negative belief then you do not have self love. Instead it is an unhealthy sense of self that manifest itself in a variety of ways; self loathing, self contempt, and not accepting of oneself. It can also manifest in extreme self esteem, conceit and narcissism, just to name a few.
If you have low self esteem and no self love, you may have bought into the idea that if you love yourself then you are conceited and a narcissist. Where does this negative belief stem from? Your belief system. If you have not read my blog post about beliefs and core values you may do so here: Rediscover your beliefs and core values
And maybe you believe that if you take a bubble bath, get a massage or have your nails done, that is self love. I disagree. Those are actions we take to care for our selves. It is good to do those things but they do not give you a healthy sense of self love. Self care is a result of self love but can not produce self love. Self care can not get rid of the negative core belief you have about yourself blocking healthy self love.
After a loss, it is common for people to loose their sense of self. During the grieving process we tend to believe that our ability to love and be loved ended with our loss. We think that we are no longer worthy and our value is gone. We do not see ourselves as individuals, our identity becomes wrapped around our loss. We have lost everything including our love for ourselves.
How do we regain our healthy self love?
First of all we need to take a look at our inner self. Take an inventory of yourself. What is your self talk saying? What do you believe about yourself? What are you tolerating? What do you need emotionally? What is important to you? What are the qualities of your character?
After reviewing your list, ask yourself:
Do I need to forgive myself? Is there something you have done that is holding you back from loving yourself? Did you make a mends? Did you ask for forgiveness from the other party? Did you ask for forgiveness from God? At some point you have to face it, deal with it and forgive yourself. You will never have a healthy sense of self and self love if you do not let go and forgive. You are only hurting yourself when you refuse to forgive.
It is important to note that you may not be able to ask for forgiveness from someone because they are not longer here. If that is the case for you, it is still important that you release it. You can do so in a variety of ways; you can write a letter or a journal entry saying what you need to say and asking for forgiveness or you can acknowledge it, receive forgiveness and let it go. Some people burn the letter afterwards or send it off tied to a balloon as a symbol of release. Whatever you choose to do is fine as long as you forgive and move forward into a loving relationship with yourself.
What do I need to accept about myself? There may be things about yourself that you do not like. You have been trying to change but it keeps coming back. If this is the case, accept where you are now. Don’t beat yourself up because you have not arrived. You are a work in progress. On the way to who you are becoming, make sure you accept and love who you are now.
Lastly, it is time to get rid of the inner critic. Replace negative, unfounded self criticism with true, positive affirmations about your self. Treat yourself with kindness and gentleness. Have compassion for your feelings. Recognize your feelings for what they are and accept yourself. If you do that, you are well on your way to a healthy sense of self love and healing.
As always I welcome your feedback and questions. You can leave them in the comments below.
Remember that you are not alone, I am here to walk along side of you.
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