Learning How to Love Yourself
Do you know how to love yourself? If I asked you that question, what would your response be?
"Love myself? I don't even like myself!"
"Are you sure I'm supposed to love myself? I thought
I was supposed to love others."
"I don't know . . . I've never really thought about it."
"Isn't that conceited? It really sounds selfish."
Chances are your response might be similar to the ones above. Many women don't even like themselves, much less love themselves. But this is not the way we were created.
In Matthew 22:36-39 we read:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" (NIV)
You are to love your neighbor as yourself! This means that God has put self love in us as part of who we are.
If you are a mother, or know anything about newborns, you know that they are born loving themselves. How can you tell? They cry! They let you know when they are hungry, tired, scared, uncomfortable, bored, or lonely. They search for food, comfort, love - whatever they need. And if they don't get it? They cry harder.
One of the most fascinating things about seeing my babies on ultrasound was watching them pacify themselves. My oldest sucked on her tongue. My youngest sucked the inside of her lower lip. Before they were even born they knew how to pacify themselves!
As they grow up a bit, it is very evident that children love themselves. Often their first words include, "No!" and "Mine!" Sharing is a difficult skill to learn and often takes years to instill. Children want parents and caregivers to be at their beck and call 24/7, 365. They want what they want now, and no is not an option.
My point is, when you were born, you knew how to love yourself. As a baby and a young child, you did what you needed to do to get your needs met.
~Self love is as natural as the trees going dormant
in the winter and budding forth in the spring.~
Over the years, however, you may have been taught how not to love yourself. You may have understood from your parents or caregivers that you had nothing worthwhile to say. Worse yet, that what you had to say or the things you did were usually wrong or bad.
You may have been abused in any number of ways which took away the self love you were born with and replaced it with self protection, self neglect, self loathing, and self hate. You may have learned that it was better to shut your emotions down than to experience them. Even this was a form of self love, however. You were protecting yourself at all costs, so that you could survive.
~So many experiences can warp our self love into something
twisted, ugly, and emotionally unhealthy.~
By the time you are an adult you truly may not know how to love yourself. But just because the real you and your needs are buried under layers of abuse, neglect, and shattered dreams, doesn't mean things have to stay that way.
Learning how to love yourself and beginning the process of healing starts with learning who you are in Christ and just what you mean to the Father.
Recommended Resources for Learning How to Love Yourself