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August 9, 2014

How To Learn To Love Yourself

# 1. Follow the 5 action steps below

Dr. Tammi Baliszewski

“To learn to love yourself is really the purpose of your life.” When I first heard this from a spiritual teacher, I was confused. My identity was taking care of others, being selfless and being of service. Then they expounded on this life lesson. “In healthy relationships, you make God first, yourself second and others third.” How can this be? I was utterly baffled.

However, I had to admit, my relationships and my life were not wonderful. I had been dumped by my fiancé, I had no real friends to speak of, I was struggling financially and things were “complex” with my family. I was not sure I believed what they were saying, but I was ready to try something radically different. So, I set the intention to learn to love myself.

As I put my “Learning to Love Myself” practice into place, there appeared to be a shift. People started treating me with greater respect and kindness. I have come to know this Truth. We are attracted to people who treat us like we treat ourselves, and outer reality is a reflection of inner reality. In other words, we need to treat ourselves the way we want others to treat us.

Here are some “Learning to Love Oneself” action steps:

1. Set the intention to love yourself

2. Ask yourself often: “What honors me now”?

3. Answer the question: “How can I be nicer to myself?”

4. Do loving things for yourself: Get a massage; Buy yourself flowers; Take a leisurely walk in nature, or enjoy a candle lit bubble bath.

5. Ask yourself: “What brings me joy?” And do it – even if it seems like a “waste of time” or silly.

Consider for a moment which you would rather receive: A cup of sludge from the bottom of a well that is depleted? Or a clear, clean cup of water from a well that is overflowing? Learning to love yourself first and foremost fills your gas tank, puts you on solid ground, and supports you in giving from overflow and abundance, rather than exhaustion and deficit. Love you, honor you, care for you, so you can give the very BEST of you to those you love.

You cannot authentically love from the outside in, you can only truly love from the inside out. For more, check out my book Manifesting Love From the Inside Out.

Dr. Tammi Baliszewski,

# 2. To learn to love yourself, you must first learn to remove the things that block you from acting as if you love yourself

Brett McDonald

Self-love is about the thoughts and opinions you have about yourself, but it is also about the choices and behaviors that reflect value of your own needs. In fact, the actions you take on your own behalf have a very powerful impact on the way you think about yourself. You believe everything you do, which means when you protect yourself, are kind to yourself and hold others accountable to be nurturing to you, your opinion about your value actually become more positive.

We are used to thinking that if we hold ourselves in high regard, then we will be kind to ourselves, but most often I encourage clients to start ‘acting as if’ they have self-love, and that actually generates they positivity we feel about themselves. Too often we have beliefs that stop us from putting our needs as a priority. We don’t want to be a burden upon others, we feel weak or selfish if we ask others to nurture our feelings and emotional needs. We believe that it is always better to avoid confrontation, to ‘let things go’ and not stand up for ourselves, and this creates patterns of behavior that actually de-prioritize the self.

The opinions and thoughts you have about yourself follow these actions and choices. To learn to love yourself, you must first learn to remove the things that block you from acting as if you love yourself. Often, it is not the negative thoughts we have about ourselves that block self-loving behaviors, but rather the beliefs about putting ourselves as a priority and inviting others to do the same toward us that make self-love behaviors less pronounced. Try thinking of at least 2 choices you can make each day to show yourself that you are valuable, and challenge yourself to ask others to accommodate your emotional needs. Over time, this will lead you to value yourself more and it will also generate emotional intimacy in relationships.

Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC –

# 3. The magic in loving self has to do with first understanding how we came to be who we are and to have a realistic idea of our value to the people that matter to us in our current state of being

Dr. Randi Gunther

As we grow from childhood through our adult lives, our sense of self is formed by the mirrors we see in the eyes of those upon who we depend. Slowly, through the many experiences that life brings to us, we become who we are, limited only by our genetics and the scars that come from trauma.

Early mirrors have the most impact because they impact us when we have less option to look elsewhere. Those deeper responses form our core concept of how we are, or are not, lovable to others. Small children do not have the perspective to consider the source; they are unable to do anything but believe those inputs are representative of not only their personal reality but what they expect will continue as they venture into the world. We continue to add more mirrors but they must stand upon those at the core.

People also are born with different levels of resiliency. Some bounce back in the most arduous of circumstances while others fall back with seemingly less injuring critical environments. Some just naturally have the ability to attract and charm. Born sunny and enchanting, they may never mean to outshine their more needy compatriots, yet automatically do.

The combination of personality characteristics, life experiences, options provided, luck, societally valued packages, and a natural capacity to grow through challenge, adds up to a person’s esteemed value in the world they inhabit.

The magic in loving self has to do with first understanding how we came to be who we are and to have a realistic idea of our value to the people that matter to us in our current state of being. There is no way to love self in the midst of a consistently negative environment of critical feedback. If we are willing to openly and honestly take stock of what we have to offer and then, if at all possible, find the people who genuinely and automatically love who we are, we can bask in the success of those interactions.

It is also possible to learn to cherish and value who we are and what we have to offer when we are less able to feel worthy in the midst of the people we must encounter who may not value us, but it is much more difficult. It is then that we realize the value of a “sky hook.” Reaching into our spiritual selves where love of others can survive in any environment by reaching out to help those who are hurting more than we are. Or learning how others feel deeply inside even when they appear to be okay on the outside. Now those that we care for can find love of self in our eyes. Learning to make that happen for others gives us the opportunity to leave our bruised egos behind, to search for love where it is available, and being to leave negative self-images behind.

Dr. Randi Gunther –

# 4. How to love basically means unwrapping the personality layers to live out our truths

Dr. Susan E. Schwartz

A combination of self-love and self-hate is a way to define the narcissistic part of ourselves that struggles with self-love. This mis-guided part might outwardly appear in a person who seems to like him or her. Self-focused, the world revolves around them. People give and give to this one who demands attention, takes up the space, is all consuming, and does not recognize the problem.

The inner situation is actually the opposite because no one can see the pain of the narcissistic position. Even the person themselves often cannot see what is going on. Self-love is absent in a frantic search to fill what feels so eternally empty. Fears of the unknown arise, the masks to the true self appear and we operate as if we will be roughly or rudely exposed and vulnerable.

The unknown parts of the personality include the enlightening, painful yet growing awareness of the darker and more complex aspects, called the shadow in Jungian analytical psychology. These personality elements are often the ones that tend to surprise and perhaps shame us, yet are essential for personal development. They are what the narcissism tries to hide. Yet, they are needed to be authentic and real. Getting in touch with these parts promotes taking and receiving love and develops more honest connections.

As individuation, or being all that we really are, unfolds in a relationship, so does confrontation with the shadow. These elements might erupt in moments of chaos and melancholy yet can lead to the expansion of the personality. It can feel like the darkest time, one filled with disillusionment and like there is no exit. When the inner dilemmas are intense, they lead to the reordering of the psychological elements from within. This feels upsetting as it leads to a death of the old and familiar ways while opening the path to an expanded identity.

To this end, we explore the oscillation between longing for transformation, escape from constriction and engulfment, and come to a place where casting off outgrown selves and overused facades leads not only to a nakedness but equally to a renewal. Our dreams, the natural occurrences of the night facilitate this process and bring us cues about what we need for love and self-acceptance. The interior journey is a valuable source for accessing recuperative powers. How to love basically means unwrapping the personality layers to live out our truths. Diminishment of narcissism with its lack of love means uncovering the shadow parts to gain self-love.

Dr. Susan E. Schwartz, –

# 5. Love thy neighbor as thyself

Loral Lee Portenier

Being raised in a highly religious family, I was intimately familiar with the sins of pride and selfishness. After leaving religion, I realized that this mentality exists throughout our culture in the US, a remnant of our pilgrim heritage and Christian-based culture. So I will address the challenge of how to love ourselves from this perspective.

So many sermons are preached on how to love our neighbor. These homilies seem to leave out the second part of the Biblical injunction, namely, love thy neighbor as thyself. If we place the emphasis on the second part of the verse, we can begin to see how to treat ourselves. Simply put, we stop doing to ourselves what we wouldn’t do to others.

Listen to how you speak to your friends and neighbors, your bosses, coworkers, employees, and customers. Notice how you treat them. What you do for them. How you try to make them feel.

Compare that with how you speak to yourself. How you treat yourself. Do you try to make yourself feel good, or do you worry about being proud or selfish? Ask yourself how long you would keep a friend, a job, or a client if you treated them like you treat yourself.

If you like your answers, keep up the good work. If not, try treating yourself as you treat your most valuable client, your most precious relative, or your most cherished friend. And refuse to feel guilty because, after all, you’re obeying the Bible as it’s written: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Dr. Loral Lee Portenier –

# 6. Self-love is about self-kindness, compassion, and creating an environment in which we feel respect

Cynthia Pickett

Having been on both sides of this coin, I can tell you it is tricky. Love is a behavior! It is easy to fool ourselves in to thinking we love, like, respect ourselves when we actually don’t. Why does it matter? If we don’t love ourselves, how is anyone else going to love us? Also, like attracts like. That means if we are disrespectful to our own self then the people around us will treat us badly too. If you feel loved, respected, and liked by those around you then great! If not, here are some things you can do to change

First, notice your thoughts. The thoughts that most people have about themselves are mean, cruel and abusive. For example, “I am fat”, “Don’t be so stupid”, If I don’t get my list done today, then I am a loser”, etc. Most people would never say to friends what goes through their minds about themselves. We have to treat ourselves like our own best friend. If you would not say something to a friend, you do not get to think it about yourself. We cannot love, or learn to love, ourselves with a steady stream of abuse going through our heads. In order to love ourselves, we have to treat ourselves like we are our own best friends.

The next step is to examine how you live in your environment. Do you allow others to treat you badly? Do you tell lies, cheat, scam, hide, and take advantage of others? If you say yes to any of the above then there is an issue that needs to be addressed. When we love ourselves we behave with respect and we don’t keep people around us who treat us disrespectfully. We inherently know we deserve better and act as

Self-love is about not saying ugly things to us. It is about self-kindness, compassion, and creating an environment in which we feel respect. Be your best, and when you fall short, forgive yourself rather than beating your self up. By treating your self with more kindness you will notice those around you will do the same.

Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC –

# 7. Be your own best friend!

Chris Adams Hill

There is only one person who is guaranteed to be in your life from the day you’re born until the day you die: You! So it makes sense to become best friends with this valuable individual. He or she knows more about you than anyone else, has a vested interest in your happiness and has tremendous power to create a rich, loving internal world, or an abusive, self-defeating one.

You may not realize how much control you actually have over your degree of self-acceptance and love. Barriers to self-love often are framed as “when I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll be attractive” or “when I get promoted, then I’ll know I’m respected and successful” or “when I have a boyfriend / girlfriend, then I’ll believe I’m loveable”. This way of seeing ourselves is flawed and leads to pain, negative self-talk, low self-esteem, etc; in these scenarios we are looking for external validation rather than validating ourselves. You are loveable right now as you are and the only barrier to experiencing self-acceptance and love is your belief system.

If you tell yourself over and over that you are worthless, ugly, unsuccessful, dumb or unlovable, your brain will believe you; our brains are powerful, and flexible! Creating this internal dialogue of critical, mean and self-defeating statements leads to a belief system that is critical, mean and self-defeating. What is hopeful about this situation is that you created the first dialogue and came to believe it, so it stands to reason that you can create a new dialogue and believe it too! This requires identifying our negative beliefs, noticing when they appear and consciously choosing to alter our internal dialog.

If you believe that you are unattractive or unloveable, I would begin by asking a question; one of my favorite questions to ask is, “Who gets to decide?”. Who gets to decide what is ugly, beautiful, good, bad, too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, successful, unsuccessful, loveable, unloveable? Society and the media constantly give us parameters for beauty, success and happiness that we can buy into, but we don’t have to. So, who does get to decide? You do! You get to create your own definitions for these terms and if / how they will be part of your belief system. Thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all connected. Change your thoughts and you will change your feelings and behaviors. You have the power to make these changes happen. Love yourself! You deserve a best friend for life!

Chris Adams Hill, LCSW –

# 8. Love yourself in three steps

Amanda Patterson

Loving yourself is one of the most healthy paths you can take in your life. It will open you up to every experience and opportunity along your journey. You will grow to see yourself as worthy of those magnificent moments and your life will become plentiful with them. That should be reason enough to start loving yourself today! So the next step is learning how to love yourself.

It starts with an exploration of who you are. This can be done through journaling, going to a therapist, attending a workshop or reading a self help book. This step is important because it will teach you what feeds your soul. It will help you to realize what is holding you back from engaging in self-love. It will open your eyes to the baggage you are still holding on to. It will show you what things you like and dislike, which can be a guidepost to implement the self-care.

Next, it’s time to learn skills and techniques to engage in self-love. If you realized that you give to others more than you give to yourself, you will need to learn to set boundaries. If you learned that you come from lack, you will need to learn ways to live in abundance. If you realize old resentments towards your parents are holding you back from loving and embracing yourself, then you’ll need to learn how to change resentments into gratitudes. As stated above, there are many avenues for you to learn skills of self love and care.

Finally, it will be time to put them into practice. You will be able to set a boundary with a sibling that wants you to pay for their dinner. Now you can take that money you normally would have spent on her and go get a pedicure. You will be able to forgive your parents and then forgive yourself. You will be able to look for signs that life is flowing in your direction. You will start to doing things that nourish your life because you will have an understanding that on Sunday mornings you like to wake up, go to yoga and then have lunch with your best friend.

Now that you have these three steps, put them into action and see your heart open in self-love.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC –

# 9. Be kind and give yourself the benefit of doubt

Rich Lewis

Love? What is love? Do I love myself? Can I love myself? Is love an emotion, a feeling? Perhaps an action. Or all of the above?

C.S. Lewis once said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” But can this same concept of relational love be applied to loving one’s self? For if I hate myself, how can I ever truly love another?

Often times we are unable to show love to ourselves because we simply don’t know “how” to love. Perhaps we value our own self-worth through the eyes of others and therefore our attempt to love them is really an attempt to love ourselves. But when our love is not reciprocated we feel empty and let down, perhaps even resorting to thinking we are unlovable, therefore we cannot and should not love ourselves either. Perhaps we should see ourselves through eyes greater than our own! Once again, “How can I ever truly love another until I have first loved myself?”. But then I must ask myself how I define this “love” I need to give to myself. And therein lies the greater question, “What is love?”.

Perhaps we could define love as a willingness to sacrifice one’s own desires for the good of another. But then again how can I fill up another when I am constantly empty inside myself? Perhaps I should be the one to “practice” love on myself first before I “practice it on another. Meaning, imagine all the things I could do for another to show them that I love them. All the things I would assume they would do for me if they indeed “loved” me. And after a period of time and ample practice of applying these very things to myself, could it be that I come to realize I do indeed love myself?

What if I were to give grace to myself for mistakes made? Or show patience to myself for not understanding certain things? If I were to show mercy to myself when I fall short. Forgive myself when I let others down. If I were to show approval to myself for accomplishments in the same way I would congratulate a child for a much beloved finger-painting. Perhaps I could think the best about myself, giving myself the benefit of the doubt when it comes to my intentions and best efforts. Or show kindness to myself rather than engaging in self-guilt.

Could it be that when I choose to love myself in the way I wish others would love me that I will soon come to discover that I indeed “do” love myself? Perhaps we should give it a go and see what happens!

Rich Lewis, LPC, NCC, M.A. –

# 10. Follow the 10 steps below

Dr. Angela Clack

Adapted from my book chapter from the book Breaking Free: Overcoming Self-Sabotage, published by Professional Woman Publishing (

The title of Tina Turner’s movie “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” is not just any old cliché’. It rings true for many men and women who lack self-love. Healing yourself from the inside out means recognizing first that I am loveable and worthy of love; that I am capable of giving and receiving healthy love in an intimate relationship; that abuse and rejection are not acceptable; that I am not defined by others opinions of who they perceive me to be; that I am not my past nor does my past define me.

Learning to love yourself is a journey of self-discovery. It may seem initially to be a painful experience but the end result will be rewarding. It requires determination, persistence, and a willingness to accept the truth about ourselves. It requires a transformation in your thinking.

Top 10 keys to the process of healing and learning to love oneself:

1. Self-love defeats self-sabotage.

2. Learn to be attuned to your feelings.

3. Embrace your imperfections: accept yourself as you were created.

4. Knowing God’s (your higher power) purpose and plan for your life.

5. Journaling.

6. Discover and focus on your strengths.

7. Create and maintain healthy personal boundaries to achieve the relationships you desire.

8. Silence your negative inner critic that tells you that you are not worthy.

9. Work through and let go of past issues and emotional baggage that keeps you stuck in the past.

10. Never compromise! If you compromise on something, you will compromise on anything. You are worth more than that!

The bottom line is that loving yourself requires you to change the perception you have of yourself as
well as the attention you give to the perceptions others may have of you.

It is a process that requires intentional, mindful and deliberate thought and effort. It’s all up to you! It’s a choice.

Dr. Angela Clack –

# 11. Healthy self-love includes self nurturing and taming the inner critic

Carri Nash

What does it mean to practice healthy self-love? I often talk to my clients about this. Healthy self-love consists of having a kind internal dialogue. In order to do this, we must learn to tame our internal critic. When we notice that voice inside our head telling us, “How could you be so __________ (stupid, lame, clumsy, inconsiderate, rude, etc…..), we need to push the stop button, and find kinder ways to communicate with ourselves. “I’m not happy with the way I handled that situation, let me see what I can learn from this” would be an example.

Healthy self-love includes self nurturing. Many people, especially women, are excellent at nurturing others. Nurturing means to promote growth. So self-nurturing would be engaging in activities which move us toward growth. This could be any type of educational or creative endeavor. It could mean getting outside our comfort zone to experience a different culture, or volunteering with people who are less fortunate. Nurturing oneself is more than the daily shower, it is more than choosing healthy foods for our body, although those are definitely a part of the recipe. In order to grow, we must challenge ourselves to become more than we were yesterday.

Healthy self-love also includes having healthy relationships. In order to do this, we must cultivate healthy boundaries. We set limits with people, say no when we need to, and don’t allow the negativity of others to overwhelm us. We stay firm when we need to be firm, and say no to relationships that damage our self-esteem and keep us from being at peace. Learning to do this is a challenge for many. They confuse a lack of boundaries with being kind. But when we leave ourselves out of the formula, this is not kindness, it is martyrdom. Healthy self-love never includes makes us into martyrs.

What can you do today to love yourself better? Make one small change, and practice building on that over time.

Carri Nash, RN, MFT –

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