For many people the idea of self-love generates negative thoughts and feelings about narcissistic, ego-driven people. We think of those who care little about others unless they can further their personal or professional goals. But if you genuinely love yourself, you engage in behavior that includes both honest and continual self-care, and kind and generous treatment of others.
There’s an age-old theory that you can’t love someone else until you truly love yourself. This point has been debated by countless experts and the popular answer is, indeed, you cannot love someone else until you truly love yourself. And I agree. How can you care for, honor, or cherish another person if you don’t honor or cherish yourself? How can you give away something you don’t have? How do you even know what it looks like or feels like if you’ve never really experienced it?
There’s a wonderful old saying that is applicable here: Charity begins at home. First love yourself, and then you can love someone else, without judgment and attachment.
For so many of us, men and women alike, our self-esteem is dependent on something outside ourselves, such as our spouse or the man or woman we are dating, the neighborhood or house we live in, the job or career we’ve chosen or the amount of money in our bank account or stock portfolio. Without those things, we perceive ourselves as nothing, unless we’re taught otherwise or have role models who show a different example of how to see ourselves.
Make no mistake about it, we are taught how to view ourselves. We learn to value or devalue ourselves as men and women by the examples we see in the movies, on television, in magazines, and at home. And the music we readily listen to reinforces the message of self-care or self-loathing. Sometimes the message is subtle and sometimes it’s flagrant. It’s always our choice what we do with it.
Learning how to love oneself is a lifetime process. Self-esteem is contingent on what you are willing to do to nurture it. How are you demonstrating self-love in your life? What are you doing differently today?