“Love yourself.”

“Take time for yourself.”

“Treat yourself.”

“Celebrate you.”

“Do you Boo.”

In today’s society we are inundated with messages that admonish us to put “me” first. And while it is very important to love, accept and appreciate yourself to ensure your mental and emotional well-being are in order; it is equally important to not to become a conceited, self-absorbed nincompoop.

Learning how to love yourself is key to being able to love others. Establishing healthy relationships requires that the individuals in the relationship be healthy. Part of liking yourself involves recognizing your own good qualities, accepting your strengths and weaknesses and being ok with who you are–flaws and all.

Where healthy self love and respect derails and morphs into unhealthy egocentrism is when your self view becomes distortedly grandiose and you constantly crave the attention and admiration of others. You become oblivious to your own flaws and fail to recognize value in others. Then comes true narcissism. This occurs when you resort to putting down and demeaning others to make yourself feel better.

How to love yourself and why that involves loving others

An extremely distorted love of self robs you of your ability to grow, love and feel loved by others. Humans are relational beings and are born with an innate need to be loved and give love to others. The reciprocal process of giving and receiving love is essential to the wellness of all people. They are equally important.

Learning how to love yourself begins at a very young age. It happens simply. You are loved, accepted and valued by others which teaches you that you are loveable and valuable. You internalize those feelings and begin to view yourself–at least initially– through the eyes of others. This is how self-worth is developed. Transversely, when you love and cherish others you provide them a different view of themselves. Your love for them assists them in loving themselves.

Being overly self-absorbed limits your ability to grow. The unfortunate thing about being narcissitic is that you hyper focus on a few key aspects of yourself which you love and ignore, deny or make excuses for things you don’t. The narcissis will focus on their looks or a specific ability or gifting they may have and never work on short comings and weaknesses. This stunts their emotional growth.

Even worse, those with an inflated view of themselves often criticize and put others down to ensure their inflated ego remains in tact. This is the ugly side of distorted self-love. Mistreatment, contempt and disregard for others are bi-products of extreme vanity. The person that is completely and utterly in love with themselves becomes emotionally unavailable to genuinely love others–and they also limit the amount of love they can receive.

One of the purest signs that you posses a healthy amount of self-appreciation is in your ability to choose to put others first and to genuinely love another human being. This doesn’t mean that you allow people to walk all over you or guilt you into doing for them. These acts of service and self-sacrifice are sincere, pure, genuine and purposeful choices. They come from the heart–you do because you want to.

Love is a reciprocal force. The more you give the more you receive. Finding a balance between self worship and a healthy dose of self-appreciation can be a difficult balance to maintain. We are encouraged to put ourselves first and do what feels good even if that means disregarding the feelings and needs of others. True love is not selfish, abusive, vain and never degrades, demeans or belittles others. It is kind, gentle and uplifting.

Love yourself. Love others.

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