How do You Learn to Love Yourself? A Key Question!
It’s essential to learn to love yourself. Without that vital affirmation, it’s difficult if not impossible to find meaning or value in life.
What does it even mean to love yourself? “Learn to love yourself” is a phrase that gets tossed around an incredible amount in New Age, self help and pop psych circles, but what does “loving yourself” actually look like? How can I positively value who and what I am? Does it even matter whether I love myself? Some people might even feel that “loving myself” is kind of…selfish!…
It’s understandable that there are very different reactions to the idea of loving yourself. There is a great deal of confusion between “loving yourself” and narcissism. Many people react extremely negatively to the image or idea of the narcissist. Narcissists are characterized by an inflated sense of their own importance, an over-the-top need for admiration and attention, and a complete lack of empathy for others. We’re all repelled by images in the media of public figures who are narcissists (you know who I mean!), and we’re quite certain we don’t want to be that.
So, what do we want for ourselves? How can you “learn to love yourself” in a healthy way?
We all confuse self love with wanting or needing to be perfect—a desire at the root of much anxiety and depression. This is because it’s all too easy to believe that we’re only lovable and acceptable if we’re perfect or flawless—a message that many of us have picked up from our early life experience! Yet loving ourselves—or anyone else—is about loving ourselves exactly as we are, warts and all. That may seem like a tall, tall order. Indeed as C.G. Jung himself stated in one of his most famous quotes,
The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
What Does Loving Yourself Even Mean?
To genuinely love yourself means, first of all to accept yourself fully. This is no small thing. To be able to look at yourself with honest, open eyes, and first of all, to accept everything about yourself, that, yes, this is the way I actually am can be something at which we have to work intentionally for a long time.
From a Jungian perspective, confronting and accepting the parts of ourselves that we have no wish to be, what Jung called the shadow, is a very large part of the process of individuation, the name Jungians give to the process of discovering and living out who we really are. It’s only when we begin to meet those parts with courage and kindness that the journey of becoming and honouring ourselves really begins.
To be continued…
With best wishes for your personal journey,
© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)