Where does self love begin?

Yesterday I asked for help from my readers on the subject of self-love. I really enjoyed and appreciated the feedback and responses I got. It seems that a number of people associate self love with the love of God, from a western, Christian, biblical based theology.

That’s understandable and helpful. I come from a similar place. However there are millions of people in the USA and around the world who don’t come from or ascribe to this cultural perspective and have experience a lot of hatred, prejudice, and abuse by other human beings in the name of the “Christian” God, or the Gods of other religions. Organized religion, in general, appears to be seen as anything other than loving.

So, I wonder what those who don’t follow a religion or ascribe to spiritual faith think love and self-love is about. I don’t ask this in an effort to ridicule or set anyone up to be criticized or evangelized. I am genuinely and sincerely curious about this.

Many people I know who claim no religion and who tend to disdain religion as fake and a crutch, full of easily swayed sheeple are also loving, caring, socially responsible people who strive to do good and not harm. I want to hear your voice and know your perspective.

Please be assured that I will maintain your confidentiality and anonymity if you are concerned about that. If you are more comfortable you can email me at: humaninrecovery@gmail.com

I welcome and appreciate the insights, contributions, and feedback of all those who read and take the time to leave thoughtful and constructive comments.

Thank you for contributing to the conversation.
Blessings,
Kina

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23 comments

  1. Kina, What an exciting process you’ve begun here. I applaud your open heart. Self-love is so often confused with self-centeredness, selfishness, and narcissism. For me it’s simply the ability to look in the mirror and say “I love you. I want the best for you.” That’s not easy to do, particularly in a society that values self-deprecation and that old JOY acronym from various Christian faiths (Joy comes from putting Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last). I believe that’s led to a great deal more depression in this world than is needed. I prefer the metaphor of the oxygen mask on the airplane: put yours on first so you can be certain you’ll be able to help the person next to you. For me, I had to start with loving that “inner child” that still lives in each of us. Trust takes time and must be earned. I think self-love, unless it’s been preached to us since childhood, also takes time to nurture and grow. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Janet,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and offering your thoughts. I think much of what you say is true and bears consideration. Our society and religion has done a fabulous job of stripping away the true message that we are loved as we are, where we are and that love is not something earned or prepared for. Love comes first and is not dependent or predicated on anything other than the fact that love is.

      Easy words to say, not as easy to internalize, more difficult to believe as soul deep truth and act on for so many of us.
      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. Loving depends on who we are and to whom we give our love but we have to remember that “people need loving the most when they deserve it the least.” Sometimes, when a person, a love one, our partner, a relative, our children, a friend or anybody else in our lives seem too hard to deal with because of the negative emotions in his heart we tend to avoid him, neglect him, and even create conflict with him. Loving is trying to look at what is good in that particular person and trying to bring out the best in him no matter what. Acceptance, attention, care, consideration, generosity, understanding and respect can be put together as one and that is love. Yes love can move mountains, it can create miracles and it can even make our lives colorful and exciting but don’t forget love means God. Loving in God’s perspective loves through imitating our God through our virtues and deeds. Loving in this way would let our hearts feel God’s love, thus allowing us to see the secret beauty of others heart, we as persons in God’s eyes. Thus Thomas Merton said, “If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way, there would be no more need for war or hatred, no more need for cruelty or greed.” Life would be that easy. Love and peace will always be around us.

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  3. I’m more of a spiritual than religious person, and though I do a lot of research on mythology and religion in general, I don’t quite press myself to ascribe to any one particular belief. I believe that self love is loving the divine within myself – whatever that divinity is in any given moment. Sometimes I believe divinity can be ugly and grotesque, shame-faced and scared – other times divinity is beautiful, the face and song of a siren. I think I carry each facet of this stark human divinity within me, and I love myself because I have the ability to live fully, and express each aspect fully. I hope this makes sense. What a wonderful prompt.

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    1. Veva,
      Thank you for that perspective. The idea that the darker, more painful and difficult aspects of ourselves being as divine as the nobler, more pleasing aspects is an interesting one. Perhaps being able to accept, reconcile, and integrate those parts of ourselves into our whole sense of self is the key to living in accordance and harmony within us and the world around us.

      Great thoughts.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  4. I think self love is the acceptance of the self under any circumstance, in any situation. Without notably forgiving your weaknesses and understanding your strengths at any given time, you won’t have the capacity to forgive and love yourself completely. And if you can’t do that then you’ll have a hard time truly loving others without expectation.

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    1. Ericka,
      Beautifully concise and practically concrete assessment.

      Now, is this something you grew up learning or understanding or was there a transition and learning process you went through to come to this point?

      Were there others in your world who lit the way through their example or did you have to break new ground?

      Sorry to be so nosy, but enquiring minds want to know.

      Be well,
      Kina

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  5. Self love starts with loving myself. Loving every part about myself. Loving my strengths and my flaws. I do not believe in the Christian version of God. I do believe self love is loving the universe because the self is a part of the universe. True universal love starts with self love and is impossible without self love.

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    1. Brett,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Can you provide or offer specific or concrete examples of what that kind of self love looks like? How does one “love” his flaws?

      If I understand what you are saying, loving yourself and loving the universe is one and the same because the self is part of the universe and without the Universe the self would not exist. Not to be argumentative or to disrespect what you are saying, that sounds an awful lot like the God of Love I have heard and learned about in various Christian settings.

      I wonder if the Big Bang onset of our universe and the start of everything is foundational love? Love gets misunderstood and people do many things in the name of misunderstood love that are less than loving.

      I understand the premise that without love for self it is difficult or impossible to love others. My big question is what does loving oneself entail? If a person has developed foundationally flawed and distorted beliefs about himself and the world around him, how will the transition to true love occur? What will penetrate and break through the distortions and reveal the true nature of love?

      I really appreciate you commenting and participating.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  6. I believe whether you believe in organized religion or any of the dominant faiths out there you can still have the belief that you were created unique and that you are valuable. I believe that is where self-love emerges, the more I recognize how connected I am to the source of creation and that I am co-creating my life that I realize my value and worthiness. I am worthy of being loved by me and I make choices that reflect that. I do things now from a place of self-love because I esteem myself (have self-esteem) and do not want to do anything that would hurt me. I have changed what I am willing to tolerate from others in how they treat me and I have changed how I treat my body, I take care of myself because I love me more. This is the key to recovery.

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    1. Empowering Love Project,
      I agree with you, in principle. I’m just trying to get to where the rubber meets the road.

      There are all these inspirational sayings and beautiful words and thoughts about loving one’s self and believing in your own worth and value. However, for those, like myself, who have developed an ingrained and fundamentally flawed core belief that we aren’t valuable and that regardless of what we think, say, or do that we aren’t worth “it,” what are the keys, steps, actions, and methods of changing those damaging and undermining core beliefs?

      I know the path I am taking to get there. However, we all start in different places and have different routes to travel before we arrive and meet at our destination. I think it is helpful to explore and show that there is not one correct answer.

      Thank you so much for participating and offering your perspective.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  7. I believe there’s a difference between self love and self confidence. Many, if not all, of us struggle in some way with feeling confident about who we are inside, what we look like on the outside, or how well we perform in the eyes of others. But we are all born naturally loving ourselves. Loving ourselves keeps us alive. You can see that self love in infants who only know their own needs at first, and cry to alert those they are dependent on to come meet those needs. When their needs are met, infants feel secure. Not until we begin to mature and feel secure can we begin to look beyond ourselves and meet the needs of others in healthy ways. It’s the reason we are told to love others as we love ourselves – loving ourselves in the first place is assumed. But love is not fulfilling until we can look beyond ourselves to love others unconditionally. It’s hard to do that, though, if we don’t have a foundation of security as well as confidence that we are accepted just the way we are. I believe the question of loving others outside of ourselves is dependent on those foundations.

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    1. Eula,
      If I am understanding your perspective, the inherent and instinctive need and acts of self-preservation, the automatic functions of supporting life are indicative of the fact we are born loving ourselves. That is plausible and I can agree with that to a point.

      I wonder though, about how that innate self-love, need for self-preservation, gets distorted or damaged during the maturation process, and we then wind up making choices that threaten our well-being and preservation. So that we reach adulthood no longer able to think or act on the things that sustain and increase our ability to love ourselves or others in healthy and constructive ways.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for truly and sincerely responding. I really appreciate it.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. Hi, Kina, I agree with you that as we mature, we make damaging decisions contrary to our need for love and our desire to be loved. (I hope that was an accurate summary!) I believe we are broken people born into a broken world, so it makes sense to me that we make a lot of broken decisions from that basis, and also from the strong influence of damage done to us unfairly by others as well as by circumstances. I understand that there are three kinds of love. In Greek terms, they are known as eros – sexual love; phileo – brotherly love; and agape – unconditional love. The first two are programmed in us naturally, but they are incomplete. We need the third one, as well, but we can’t produce it. Agape/unconditional love comes from our Creator. He is that Love.

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