What “Love Yourself” Means and 3 Ways to Get Closer To It

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By Megan Bruneau • February 9th, 2013 • 14097 Views

What “Love Yourself” Means and 3 Ways to Get Closer To It

You’ve heard it before:

“If you don’t love yourself, nobody else will!”
“The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself!”
“Love yourself first!”

OK fine, you say, but none of these people or articles explain what “loving yourself” actually means. How do I know if I love myself? Do I really want to love myself? Doesn’t this make me a narcissist? What would it look like?

Visions come up of you screaming from the rooftops how great you are, dismissing anyone who disagrees with you, and refusing to believe that you could ever do wrong (making Kanye West look like he has low self-esteem).

Ok hold on. Back up. I said “love,” not “become obsessed with.” Is that how you would treat and feel about someone you love? Probably not, unless you were on a mission to a break up or have a restraining order placed on you. If you’ve felt love for another before, what did you think about—and how did you act towards—the recipient of your feelings? Chances are you thought the person was pretty awesome, enjoyed spending time with them, were compassionate and forgiving when they let you or someone else down (after ensuring you knew they had learned from the error), and practiced unconditional love towards them, leaving them feeling safe, supported, and secure.  Maybe you didn’t love every aspect of them all the time, but you accepted, understood, and supported unconditionally.

Now turn that way of being in a romantic relationship inwards, towards yourself. You’re not infatuated, you still have expectations, and you’re not going to let yourself have free reign to fulfill every selfish desire; but, you have patience and compassion and don’t consider yourself to be a worthless individual if you make a mistake.

Make sense? If it’s a new way of relating for you intrapersonally, it’ll feel weird to begin with. It’ll feel anxiety-provoking and feigned and awkward. But, like most things, it will become comfortable and automatic with practice. Here are a few tips for learning and mastering the practice of self-compassion—or, as the rest of the world says, “loving yourself.”

1. When you become aware of your critical voice, thank it for showing up with its good intentions. Congratulate yourself on noticing that it showed up, and ask yourself if you would say the same thing to a partner, friend, or a child in your situation....

Megan Bruneau

Location:  Vancouver, CA

Originally from Kamloops, B.C. Megan Bruneau is a BCACC Registered Clinical Counsellor in Vancouver. There, she has the daily privilege of supporting several courageous and inspirational clients through their suffering.  She holds a Master of Arts...