What does it mean to love yourself?
We often read or hear the phrase: “You have to love yourself” or “You have to love yourself more”.
But there’s a lot of confusion about what that actually means.
Some interpret this as an invitation to become unfair towards others, linking it to selfishness.
Some think it is the opposite of the famous biblical verse “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Some believe it is an invitation to idolize yourself, becoming a narcissist. Probably everyone has a different idea, even if not well defined.
To understand the meaning, one must first clarify what it means to love.
And here too the scenario opens up to the different interpretations of what is love.
In fact, even on what love is everyone has their own idea or rather, an interpretation.
Therefore, each of us loves in a different way, often what he believes is “right” (which has a lot to do with his own life story and personality).
Many interpersonal problems arise precisely from this diversity of the concept of love and of loving.
Meanwhile, it is a good idea to reflect on the questions “What is love for me?”, “How do I love and how do I express love to others?”, “What do I need to receive to feel loved?”, “What things In my opinion, do they express disaffection?”.
If we try to answer these questions, we will realize that it is a series of different aspects of existence: physical, verbal, behavioral, mental, emotional. There is no unique “recipe” for everyone, but perhaps love could be summed up in allow us to be authentic.
Here are 7 ways that can help us love ourselves:
1. Take care of your body
One of the famous phrases of Hippocrates effectively summarizes the importance of this fundamental aspect: “The human body is a temple and as such it must always be cared for and respected.”.
Many of us sin in this seemingly trivial point in various ways, including not listening to the signals of hunger, thirst, tiredness, care of the various organs, need to move, pleasure, but also the way we dress the body in a way that represents and expresses our personality, the closeness we like, etc.
Some, on the other hand, “suffocate” the body with too much food, with toxic substances or with invasive aesthetic procedures which basically reflect the lack of its acceptance.
2. Listen to your own needs and desires
Many of us have dreams in the drawer waiting for a lifetime to be fulfilled, they don’t dare to express what they really would like to be satisfied with what happens, they don’t commit to fighting for themselves while they do it for others if asked, they deny themselves that they have any desire or they discount inner indications of some upset due to unmet needs.
Others let others impose their needs and desires that do not correspond to them, lacking the courage to say no.
3. Accept yourself as you are at the moment
This doesn’t equate to passivity or stubborn resignation of the type “I am like this and I don’t change!”, but to giving up judging and harshly criticizing ourselves, despite knowing that we are not perfect and that we can improve.
Some of us are ruthless self-judgers and critics who would make even a superman feel discouraged.
All critics think that they are doing good and that this is the way to improve themselves, not understanding that it is the way to worsen not only themselves but also their relationships with others.
Healthy self-criticism is very different from gratuitous criticism.
4. Take care of your feelings and the emotions we experience
Many of us have lost touch with what we feel or we exchange one feeling for another, thus denying ourselves to feel what we feel (which would be very simple).
It’s amazing how capable we are of letting ourselves be “turned off”, and turning off emotions and feelings is not a wise choice, as they are valuable indicators for modulating our behavior and making the right decisions for us.
Expressing what we feel is a form of self-respect and self-care.
5. Be loving to yourself
Basically, treat yourself as you would a child: welcoming him with all his fragility, with all his innocent beauty, with all his mistakes and things yet to learn.
Consoling and forgiving ourselves when we make a mistake instead of tormenting ourselves, protecting ourselves when we need to be protected, instead of throwing ourselves into jeopardy and remaining in situations that are disrespectful of our needs.
Unconditional love should start with ourselves, even though we can sometimes learn to give it to ourselves by loving someone else unconditionally.
6. Surround yourself with people who appreciate and treat you with love and respect
It seems obvious, yet many tolerate or even keep in their vicinity people who are disrespectful or simply incompatible with their values.
7. Stop pleasing others
Feeling that you have to somehow “earn” the presence and acceptance of others comes from a lack of acceptance of yourself, and by pleasing others this gap gets bigger and bigger.
We can do this for various reasons, from the fear of disappointing to the strategy of flattering to obtain advantages. But by pleasing others we distance ourselves from our authenticity.
And you, can you love yourself? Do you have your own “special” ways of giving yourself love? Share them in the comments!