Self-Love: How Do You Express Your Love For Yourself?

It’s become common knowledge that you need to love yourself, and that you can’t truly love others unless you love yourself. But most people have no idea what self-love really means.

Many of the articles on self-love stress actions like taking a hot bath, getting a massage, saying positive affirmations to yourself, finding your happy place or cleaning out your closet. While these actions may be loving to yourself, they are not the essence of what self-love is about.

Think for a moment about what you wanted most from your parents when you were growing up. What would have made you feel most loved?

My parents did many loving things for me, yet I didn’t end up feeling loved by them. They attended important school events. We took camping trips and other vacations. They took me to see plays and musicals. They fed me well.

Here is my list. I wanted my parents to:

  • spend quality time with me being interested in my feelings and wanting to deeply know me
  • accept me as being very different from them and supporting me in my differences
  • listen to me, truly hear me and see me, and trust what I saw, knew and felt, rather than being dismissive with me
  • explore conflicts with me rather than trying to control me
  • Role model taking loving care of their feelings so I could have learned how to do this
  • treat me with kindness and respect rather than with anger, judgments and criticism
  • speak up for me and take loving action for me when one of them or another family member was being mean or abusive to me
  • be affectionate with me without pulling on me to fill them up

This is what my inner child now wants from me.

It’s not enough to do nice and fun things for myself. The nice and fun things mean nothing if I’m abandoning myself by ignoring my feelings, judging myself, turning to various addictions or making someone else responsible for my sense of worth and safety. They mean nothing if I treat myself the way my parents treated me.

Expressing my love to myself means that:

  • I stay present in my body rather than in my head, and the minute I feel any distress, I attend to it.
  • I listen to and trust my feelings – my inner guidance system.
  • I define my own worth, seeing my essence based on the truth coming through from my spiritual guidance. I value my differences.
  • I stay open to being held in the love of the Universe.
  • I stay open to the guidance that is always here supporting my highest good, and take the loving actions I’m guided to take.
  • I speak up for myself with others.
  • I don’t engage with people who treat me with less than love and respect.
  • I treat others with love and respect and I share my love with others.
  • I ask for help when I need help.
  • I focus on gratitude for all I have.

Self-love also means that I do other loving things for myself – making healthy food, getting enough exercise, working in my garden, spending time in my art studio, reading, kayaking, spending time with loved ones and with my animals, supporting others and doing all I can to be helpful to others. Just as my parents did some nice things for me, but not the things I needed to feel loved by them, doing nice things for myself is great – but only if I’m also taking care of myself lovingly. My inner child doesn’t feel loved by “nice” things if I’m not expressing deeper love to myself in the ways listed above.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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