Self-Love That Lasts A Lifetime

Young woman laying on dry leaves and enjoying life

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

Is February 14 a happy or a sad occasion for you?

At different stages of your life, you’ve probably experienced one feeling or the other. If you don’t have a romantic partner, or you’ve recently experienced a break-up or divorce, Valentine’s Day can be a cruel reminder of loneliness and loss.

I hope this Valentine’s Day is a happy one for you during which you are able to celebrate love, if not with a romantic partner, at least with children or friends. Many people bring love into our lives, and all love should be celebrated and gratefully acknowledged.

I have suffered my share of ups and downs on Valentine’s Day. I’ve indulged in a few pity parties and whine-fests on my “off” years without romance or even the hope of it on the horizon.

It has taken many years, but over time I’ve learned there is one steadfast love — one love that can last a lifetime if you embrace it. It’s the love you have for yourself.

I hope this doesn’t sound too hokey, because I firmly believe that self-love is absolutely essential to living happily and with self-confidence. In fact, you cannot fully receive and experience love from others until you are capable of loving yourself.

“You can explore the universe looking for somebody who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and you will not find that person anywhere.” ~Buddhist Saying

What does self-love mean?

Self-love is not . . .

  • narcissistic or vain
  • self-centered or egocentric
  • smug or self-righteous
  • selfish
  • conceited or prideful
  • pretentious

Self-love does involve . . .

  • really liking the person you are
  • the ability to enjoy your own company
  • accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all
  • a willingness to grow and change and learn from others
  • the ability to forgive yourself and move on
  • the awareness of how to treat yourself tenderly
  • the capacity to love others fully and unconditionally
  • the self-confidence to create appropriate boundaries
  • the desire to take care of your health and your body
  • the self-confidence to acknowledge your talents and abilities
  • the certainty that love is always available to you, that love is everywhere

There are probably more people in this world who do not have self-love than those who do. There are probably more people who look in the mirror and see ugliness, who think about themselves and feel shame, who see the glaring humiliation of past failures or unmet expectations.


confidence course


This is so very sad, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we don’t love ourselves, it becomes evident in our words, our posture, our moods, our behaviors, and our interactions. In turn, all of these contribute to the picture of a person who is unhappy and difficult to be around. Therefore, success and love continue to be elusive, driving one further into despair and self-loathing.

Is it possible to get out of this cycle and on a path to self-love. I know that it is. Believing that you are worthy of your own love is not only possible, it is the most honorable and productive endeavor you can ever undertake. Self-love is the key to your happiness and success in life.

“I don’t like myself; I’m crazy about myself.” ~Mae West

Here are some thoughts to get started on the path to self-love . . .

  • If you are wounded, suffering from past trauma or emotional difficulties, then it shows self-love to go to a counselor or other helping professional to begin the healing process.
  • If you hate your appearance, then it shows self-love to really “see” the beautiful parts of yourself, to acknowledge the wonder of your body, and to take care of your appearance.
  • If you are unhealthy, then it shows self-love to go to the doctor, to learn about healthy and nutritious eating, to begin a small and manageable exercise routine.
  • If you are lonely, then it shows self-love to initiate a friendship, to get a pet, to reach out to someone else who is lonely, and to focus on the joys of spending time with yourself.
  • If you lack self-confidence, then it shows self-love to remind yourself of your unique gifts and abilities, to try something new just to show yourself you can, to establish boundaries with people who attempt to control or manipulate you.
  • If you feel guilt or shame, then it shows self-love to ask for forgiveness, to consciously let it go, to remind yourself of the beauty of being imperfect even as you strive to improve.
  • If you feel unloved, then it shows self-love to offer love completely and unconditionally to someone else, to serve and give of yourself without expectation, to remind yourself of all those whose lives you have touched.

This Valentine’s Day, you might be giving and receiving cards and flowers, going out to a special dinner, or you might be sitting home by yourself. Either way, don’t forget the one love who is most deserving of your tenderness and affirmation — your beloved self. You would be nothing without you!

If you are struggling with issues of lack of self-love or low self-confidence, I invite you to check out Simple Self-Confidence: 30 Days to Personal Empowerment.

Comments

  1. Beautiful post Barrie!

    For me Valentine’s day holds a special meaning, as of now at least- guess I would want to do all those things that otherwise take a back seat due to our busy schedules and work at hand. The day is a reminder for all of us to let go and reach out to connect with our loved ones. It could be your partner, your spouse, or your family and friends- just about anyone who you love. I guess when we have such a day, it makes it all the more special as its a reminder for doing things that you otherwise tend to overlook.

    I love your list of self-love and how you can achieve it as well. Guess this is one kind of love that truly does last a lifetime and will only get stronger and better.

    Thanks for sharing and wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s as well :)

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Harleena,
      You are so right — Valentine’s Day should be a day that we acknowledge love even when we aren’t “in love.” Our relationships are the most important parts of our lives, so why not take the opportunity to let everyone we love know how we feel? We have a new kitten in our house, and if she could read, I’d send her a Valentine’s card! But maybe I’ll give her a head scratch instead. :)

  2. Simply beautiful, thank you! In general, I do practice that my loved ones (and my self) are loved and appreciated every day. Valentine’s Day holds “significance” only when we allow it to; because there are built in “expectations” of the day, some feel disappointed, some feel elated…but it is all external. We can release expectations and external and allow love and gratitude to guide us–and expand our world–every day, including Valentine’s Day:)

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Amen to all of that, Joy! I couldn’t agree more. Expectations always get us in trouble. Without them, everything that happens in life is a beautiful surprise. :)

  3. “If you feel unloved, then it shows self-love to offer love completely and unconditionally to someone else, to serve and give of yourself without expectation, to remind yourself of all those whose lives you have touched. ”

    Hi Barrie-
    OK, I “get” the part that says “remind yourself of all those whose lives you have touched.” But I don’t get “offer love completely and unconditionally “. Where does loving completely and unconditionally meet “you need to have appropriate boundaries”? If I love unconditionally and someone does not express love or do loving things in return (not necessarily a romantic partner), I am told, “You let people walk all over you” (even though it doesn’t feel that way to me).

    Similarly, “to serve and give of yourself without expectation”. I have been accused of being co-dependent because I help people in need (humane societies, homeless shelters or homeless people, or even just weeding my friend’s garden!!), even though I enjoy the feeling of being able to share my time and extra resources (I don’t give when I don’t have time or resources to give).

    Can you discuss the differences? Was Mother Theresa co-dependent and needy? LOL!

    I enjoyed your post. I believe I love myself, but the points you list gave me a “self-test” to confirm I’m on the right track.

    I also think it’s not unreasonable to expect to be a little wishful or wistful on Valentine’s Day, realizing that one doesn’t have a romantic partner with whom to share a snuggle or kiss. I think it’s getting bent out of shape over it that isn’t healthy.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Meg,
      Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean doing what people want you to do whether you want to or not. It means accepting someone for who they are and not expecting them to change to meet your needs. You can still create boundaries for yourself when you love unconditionally. In fact, you must do that to have self-love. You can love unconditionally and still request behavior change from someone, but if they refuse, then the ball is in your court. You stay and love them as is, or you let them go lovingly. You have to examine your motivations for serving and helping people. If it is because serving brings you joy and fulfillment, that’s fine. But if you are serving because you want something, or you feel guilty, or it brings you attention, then that’s where the co-dependency and unhealthy motivation comes in. But that doesn’t sound like what you are doing. Yes, being wistful is normal on Valentine’s Day, but only give that feeling about 2 minutes!

  4. Jon Sollie says:

    Happy Valentines Day Barrie…

    You keep outdoing yourself. This is yet another great post that gets printed up and posted for all to see (especially me :-))! Those of us with a tendency toward depression and negativity need constant reminders that happiness comes from within, and with just a little effort that’s where we’ll find it…many thanks.

    All the best,

    Jon

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You are so welcome Jon. It’s funny that when we least feel like taking action, thinking positively, etc. , that’s when we need it most. It creates some momentum to kickstart internal healing. :)

  5. Dear Barrie,
    So beautifully said, so gratefully received.
    Love and blessings to you friend,
    Cherie

  6. Christians are taught to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you do not love yourself in the ways described in this wonderful article, how can you possibly practice love and compassion and empathy for others?

  7. While I do have a sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, the importance of self-love is worth a reminder. People in our lives come and go; we must count on ourselves for love as much as we do other people. This is a lesson I’ve just begun to learn and embrace..Thanks for another uplifting post, yours has quickly become one of my favorite sites. :)

    Happy Valentine’s Day!
    - K

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Kaylee,
      I’m so glad you have a love in your life — but also glad you are learning the value of loving yourself. Self-love makes us all so much more attractive. Thank you for your kind words. I’m thrilled you are a reader and hope you will comment often.

  8. What a meaningful post on Valentine! Thank you for sharing this. It did me a lot of good reading this. Happy Valentine!

    http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.in/2012/02/lingering.html

  9. We should always love at first ourselves, and then all the others. Some people are very devoted to the others forgetting about themselves. It’s wrong I think. And yes, self-love shouldn’t be understood as egoism.

    Great post, Barrie! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Roman,
      No, it’s not egoism. It’s a healthy love and respect. It’s looking at yourself the way a best friend would and seeing the best in yourself.

  10. Doctor Cris says:

    This article is perfect for Valentines Day. Many people go out of their way to show affection for their loved ones but do nothing to show affection for themselves. Instead, we dwell on our imperfections and negative comments—why?? Is it human nature…I do not know. I do know that I have to make a conscious effort to ensure I remain loving towards myself and discern what others say and do—remain authentic and love all of me—including my so called faults and all.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cris,
      You are right that it almost doesn’t matter why we dwell on the negative. The point is to turn it around. If we don’t love ourselves, how can we ask others to love us? If we aren’t behaving and living in ways that we find lovable, why would anyone else? When you become someone you would love, then you naturally attract love from others. For the most part, faults don’t count, because we’ve all got them. And if we love ourselves, we continue to work on them.

  11. Awesome post! It took me many years to realize that I must learn to love myself before I can adequately love others! I do love myself! Yay! Thanks for the great post!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That’s wonderful Dominica. Not many people can say that about themselves. Either they truly don’t love themselves or they think it’s wrong to admit it. I think it’s something to shout from the rooftop. You are stuck with yourself 24/7, so why not have an amazing relationship with you!?

  12. Barrie
    I have followed you for some time and while reading your current post – I clicked on your different links and ended up here. I love your examples of self-love and how to find it in yourself. My company’s mission is focused on getting one to take some action in to their Heart and Soul – to love themselves. My logo is a symbol to inspire self love and start the Must Love Journey – it all starts one day at a time.
    <3 and Gratitude, Jen

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Jen,
      I’m so glad you found me! Thank you so much for your kind comments. Your company has a lovely mission. How wonderful there are people in the world like you!

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you need to improve your self-esteem or don’t feel confident in yourself as a capable, valuable person, then your relationship will suffer. Your insecurities will have an impact on your partner and on your mutual happiness. The best thing you can do for your relationship is to learn to love yourself. Offering unconditional love to yourself means you are able to view yourself as lovable and worthy — in spite of any perceived flaws or past mistakes. You can read more about self-love in this post. […]

  2. […] been hurt by love in the past. The move love you give away, the more it comes back to you. Start with yourself. Begin to love yourself the way you would love your best friend or […]

  3. […] been hurt by love in the past. The move love you give away, the more it comes back to you. Start with yourself. Begin to love yourself the way you would love your best friend or sibling.     […]

  4. […] want to love them unconditionally, and I want, more than anything, for people to feel safe with […]

  5. […] have done what you can to correct a situation, but feel remorse, shame, guilt, or embarrassment, practice forgiving yourself. Ask yourself for forgiveness, and then offer it lovingly and completely. This takes practice […]

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