A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love

Self-love is a psychological concept that includes a set of attitudes and actions that are vital to your whole being. It’s become such a popular idea that many see the lack of self-love as the reason for many personal problems, especially those that involve romantic love. I’m sure you have said, or heard someone say to you, recently: “You have to love yourself more?” “Why don’t you love yourself?” “If you only loved yourself more, you would choose better friends and lovers, or you’d leave that employer who treats you so poorly.”

All you need is (self) love is the message, here. But, just because the idea of self-love has become part of everyday language, don’t mistake it as a trivial concept. Self-love is just as important to your personal growth, as better hygiene and health habits was to the flourishing of cultures worldwide. The more you love yourself, the better your self-confidence and self-esteem. If you don’t love yourself enough, you might not protect yourself in ways that are vital to your welfare and growth. You may let other people take advantage of you, or not stick up for yourself, when needed. You may stay too long in romantic relationships or jobs that are bad for you. Or, you may eat poorly, drink too much, or indulge in other habits that are bad for your health.

Self-love helps you to decide for, rather than against, your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It is a healthy expression of narcissism. A healthy amount of love for ourselves that leads us to protect ourselves against harm and to choose experiences that grow rather than debilitate us. But, don’t mistake this form of self-love as pathological narcissism that describes a serious personality disorder. Healthy and pathological narcissism are different ends of the self-love phenomenon.

So, what should you start to do to bring more healthy self-love into your life? Should you get a beauty makeover or buy a new set of clothing? Or, can a new relationship make you love yourself more? The answer to all of these questions is no. Although they feel good and are gratifying, you can’t grow in self-love through these types of activities. Since, self-love is not simply a state of feeling good.

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature you.

When you act in ways that expand self-love, you begin to: accept your weaknesses and strengths, have less need to explain away your short-comings, have compassion for yourself, as a human being struggling to grow in purpose and meaning, are more centered in your life purpose and values, and expect that you will get fulfillment through your own efforts.

The Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love that follows shows you how to do this.

1.  Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want authentically. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge rather than on what others want for them.

2.  Act on what you need, rather than what you want. You show self-love when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.

3.  Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through growth promoting activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interaction.

4.  Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love and activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually or just simply express poorly who you are.

5.  Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term frenemies that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of people who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My command to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life”. You will love and respect yourself more.

6.  Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. Even if you aim at living a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. To feel good about ourselves, we like to know where we are going and if we are accomplishing what we set out to do.

7.  Forgive yourself. Oh, we humans can be so hard on ourselves. I guess the downside of taking responsibility for our actions is recognition of where we went wrong along the way. The risk here is to punish ourselves for not knowing better or knowing and proceeding anyway. A part of self-love is accepting your humanness and that to be human means you are not perfect. You can’t grow unless you learn from your failures as well as your successes.

If you choose just one or two of these self-love actions to work on, you will begin to accept and love yourself more. Just imagine how much you’ll appreciate you when you exercise these seven-steps to self-love in your life. Although the saying that you have to love yourself before another person can truly love you is true. It’s also true that it takes self-love to allow and encourage other people to love themselves in the same way.

Thus, the more self-love you have, the better prepared you are for healthy intimate relating. You will, also, start to attract people and circumstances to you that support the health of your heart, mind, and spirit.

I hope you liked my post today. If you did, please let me know by selecting the LIKE icon that immediately follows. You can also Tweet or Google +1 this post, to let other people know about the ideas in today’s post. Warmly, Deborah.

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26 Responses to “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love”

  1. avatar pratik says:

    So true and so nice content.When I was reading the lines I had actually been seeing different phases of my life. So true and so nicely articulated.
    I have a query.
    Can self love turn to self- obsession or narcissism? The way you have narrated self-love it is probably not possible for a person to be self obsessed. However, I want to know how could one differentiate between self love and self obsession ?

  2. avatar Dr. Deborah says:

    Thank you Pratik, You ask an interesting question, as always. Loving yourself in the seven ways that I talk about in this post are very different from a narcissistic personality disorder. A narcissistic personality disorder starts in childhood. It’s a problem in one’s development that actually keeps them stuck in an ego-centered frame of reference. It is stage appropriate for 2 to 7 year old children to be self-centered, because they are learning about how the world relates to them. But, as the child matures, they should increasingly be able to appreciate how others think, feel and appreciate experience (the basis for empathy). Sometimes parents who mean well over-indulge a child, which can make it hard for the child to let go of thinking that he or she is the center of the universe. And, if this child has a fine intellect, extraordinary talents, or is very good looking, then he or she will get confirmation from the outside world, which may serve to reinforce their sense of superiority over others.

    So, you see self-love is very different from narcissism as a personality disorder. But, it is true, that sometimes when we begin to value ourselves and love ourselves more, we can take it too far, at first. Hopefully, over time, everything balances out.

    Good to say hello. Warmly Deborah.

    • avatar Muhammad Asad Fareed says:

      I think we have to be mindful of our actions when we indulge in Self-Love in order to avoid self-obsession. A constant feedback and analysis of our actions will keep us on track. But, sometimes, this vigilance/mindfulness becomes so annoying (as hectic mind)and disturbing and we have to take refuge in complete disorder of what we really are.

      • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

        I agree Muhammad. There is a difference between self-love and over-indulging ourselves with self-love. I like the advice to be mindful of the difference and the constant feedback analysis of our actions. This is also true with assertiveness. Learning how to be more assertive, to stand up for ourselves, to ask for what we want and need, is an aspect of self-love. But, often, people take assertiveness to it’s extreme. Thus, I think there are many concepts that involve individuality and our right of love and self-expression that we must be mindful about. Thank you again Muhammad for your great comment. Warmly, Deborah.

    • avatar pratik says:

      Thank you so much. I have learned something from your reply. Actually it was not clear to me how much love is self love and how much is narcissism. Now, I guess I got a clear understanding.Thank you. 🙂

  3. avatar eisha says:

    hi very nice article…you know i lost a relationship and the person who broke it, has the strategy of life i.e to love only himself..
    But i have a question??
    Does loving your self means selfishness??Not caring about your relationship ???because he always thought of himself nobody else no matter if other person dies or lives
    Is selfishness and rudness the part of this behavior??/

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Eisha, I’m glad you liked this article on self-love. You ask a good question. No, loving yourself more is really about treating yourself with respect and appreciating your unique abilities, talents, contributions to loved ones and the world. There are some people who do not love themselves enough. They are always hoping to look like someone else or be someone else, rather than appreciate their uniqueness and true value. Some people may seem more selfish as they grow in self-love, because they are not letting others take advantage of them. One of the aspects of self-love is to set good boundaries with other people. Eisha, a person who does not care for other people is not the same thing as a person who loves themselves in a healthy way. The self-love I speak about here is toward good mental health. Some people who do not care about others’ needs or respect them as unique beings are narcissistic people. This is very different from the self love that I talk about here. If you also read my response to Pratik, you will see that I differentiate self-love from a narcissistic personality disorder.

      Eisha, your ex-friend sounded very narcissistic, rather than healthy self-love. Remember, what I said in this post, people who can love themselves healthily also help their friends, family and romantic partners to love themselves healthily too. You take good care of yourself Eisha. I know you are still reflecting upon that relationship. Trust that you are, indeed, very lovable. I can tell by what you say to me here and in other comments. I wish you much self-love in the days ahead. Your true love will come to you. I assure you. Warmly Deborah.

      • avatar eisha says:

        yes true we must value others but first our own self because if we would not value ourself and lay our self in front of others to walk on as a carpet then they will keep degrading,disrespecting and discouraging us and our care..Every thing should be in limits even our love should not let others to take us for granted.To avoid this we should avoid sharing our weaknesses and complexes with others because they always use it as a weapon to attack u…thankss alott

        • avatar pratik says:

          With every respect to Dr. Deborah’s reply, I would love to add my feedback on this regard.
          One can use this simple tool for self love.
          Logic 1. When you love someone you are loving a human being.
          Logic 2. You are a human being.
          Implies: Love yourself also as you are a human being.

          How’s that?

          • avatar Rabia Saleem says:

            Very nice

          • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

            Thank you Rabia. I’m glad you liked this article. I look forward to you stopping by again. Warmly Deborah.

          • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

            Hello Pratik, I hope all is very well. I’m always glad to get your insights and observations. Love the logic here. I think it’s great 🙂
            May I use it? Warmly, Deborah.

        • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

          Very true Eisha. I’m so glad you will value yourself and protect yourself, as needed. You are very welcome Eisha. Warmly Deborah.

  4. avatar tania says:

    nice article 🙂

  5. avatar Fatima Karim says:

    Very well written article 🙂 I want to know is narcissism a type of personality too or is it just personality disorder? Can some people have healthy narcissism by birth?

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Fatima, thank you. Yes, good question. There’s a little healthy narcissism in all of us. It gets us to take care of our health and want to look and feel good and also to achieve. But, some people do have narcissistic traits or features of their personality that are not enough to say they have a Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It is more in degree that distinguishes between the two. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder has a fixed, self-centered way of relating to other people. In fact they use people more than related to them.

      Whereas people with some of the narcissistic traits, but not the disorder, may show self-centeredness, fragile self-esteem, and other narcissistic features in some situations but not across the board.

      I hope this helps. Warmly Deborah.

  6. avatar amir hamja says:

    my love offer rejected a girl.being rejected I mentally broke down and even cant concentrate on my normal activities.under the circumstances,what can I do? so to speak I love her heart and soul but she promised to me that she never love me rather she die

  7. avatar munny says:

    hy…dr.deborah, i love ur article.i got the point what u have said here but,every time i try to except my past i just couldn’t.the only things is i cant find is ” WHY?” why all this things heppend to me.i know i dont love myself.i try to.everytime i tried to forgot my past or just love myself i cant.my mother died 6 years ago i was 14years old that time i thought ill able to be forgot it but i found that i was not even except that she is no more…every time i saw some1 with there mother i started to miss her its like old wounds fresh again.
    its like the person i love they never be with me…i love a man.i dnt knw he was with some1 else..the time i found out dat its too late i love him so much dat now i dnt knw how i m gonna forget him..i try to accept bt every time i cant..why this is heppeing to me this thing hunted me down.what should i do ?there was no 1 who can help me.pls advise me what should i do….plsssss.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Munny. I’m so glad you love this article. Munny, I”m sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. The need for a loving and supportive mother is important. You will miss and remember her always, I am sure. But, you wont’ be able to answer why now–it will take many years of living your life before you have enough understanding to see how the loss of your mother affects your life. Munny, I know one thing for sure, if you love yourself, as your mother loved you, you will carry her forward in your life. When we lose a parent so young, especially a mother, we have to mother ourselves in our lives. You will know perhaps more than most people the important of mother in all of our lives. Use this consciousness of mother for your betterment. Let her loss fill your life with understanding so that you honor her everyday of your life. So, I say dear Munny, don’t ask why; begin to love yourself as your mother would if she were alive and you will have her with you in spirit always. Thank you dear for sharing this painful loss with me. You take good care and love yourself today and always. Warmly Deborah.

  8. avatar nishat says:

    very nice article….dr deborah.it helps me a lot.but still am feeling wrong.i did something wrong(anger) to my bf.but i love him a lot.still now i love him so much.every time when i was wrong am feeling guilty and he broke up with me.but i dont want to break up.it is so painfull to me.now he left me forever.it is like that he doesnt want to stay with me.but i never want to live without him.now i feel that i cant be happy anymore.also i dont want to bother him…..i m in a pain dr….plz help me

  9. avatar Asad khan says:

    I am facing claustrophobia and agoraphobia…and using cipralex,inderal and afranil medicines from from last 5 months,,,, I m facing panic attack in evening time also afraid from travel specially by air…I cant wait in aircraft…and feeling the plane door is closed and I cant out this time,pl advise Regds

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Asad, the next step (because you are already on medication) is to see a behavioral psychologist who is an expert in phobias and their treatments. There are techniques that help but it takes time and you have to go to an expert for this. Wishing you well Asad. Warm regards Deborah.

  10. avatar April says:

    My boyfriend keeps telling me that I don’t know how to love myself.
    I agreed on some part. But on a spiritual level, we have our differences. Lets just say I’m a believer in a higher power.. And spiritual growth / having a belief helps strengthen me as a person. My bf on the other hand, said he’s agnostic. We had a very big argument about religion, said very nasty things when I tried to open up and shared my spiritual experiences.
    He wanted me to be on the same page as him.

    I am torn here.. If I stay on this relationship, And be on the “same page” as him.. Wouldn’t that means I don’t love myself enough ,or in your article referred to not being mindful of myself..?
    Or is my bf the one that has a self-centered issue..? Not appreciating what and how I think or feel , instead forcing me to have the same way of thinking as he is..?

  11. avatar Diane says:

    I am finally at a point in my life, where I was able to say no to a relationship that I wanted so much, but ultimately knew that it could hurt me on different levels. It is the first time that I acted with Self Love. I made this decision before I read this, but I am amazed and so proud of myself. After reading this, I realize why I keep making the same bad choices. I think I am on my way, little by little, in loving myself. Thanks for your help


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