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Self-love has become a buzzword lately, but what is it really? How do we love ourselves in a balanced way? And what are the morals and ethics around it? These are questions I have been getting since I launched my book, “Do It For You,” last year.

Understanding self love, what it really means and how to practice it will transform your life.

What is self love?

A great definition of self-love comes from “Self-love means that you accept yourself fully, treat yourself with kindness and respect, and nurture your growth and well-being.” In other words, when you love yourself, you have an overall positive view of yourself. This doesn’t mean you feel positive all the time; that would be unrealistic.

For example, you can be angry and disappointed with yourself but still love yourself. Think of it like a relationship with another person. Your partner might do something that gets on your nerves, but you still love them. You love them unconditionally. The same goes for self-love—through all the ups and downs, you love yourself unconditionally and treat yourself with kindness and respect.

I often equate self-love with self-compassion because that’s what it has morphed into for me. It began as trying to have a more positive mental view of myself, but as I delved deeper into the work, it grew into having real deep compassion for myself. Holding myself with love, care, and respect as I unpacked my trauma and healed my wounds. That’s what self-love is all about for me.

Will self love make me a narcissist?

I received a question asking if it’s possible to love yourself and love others unconditionally at the same time. The answer is yes, but with some caveats. As a big proponent of balance, I believe we need to find a middle path and not swing too far on either side of the pendulum.

Another significant question I’ve gotten is whether self-love will turn you into a narcissist or make you self-centered. This is where fine-tuning is needed. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you ignore your responsibilities or others’ needs. Self-love is about treating yourself with kindness and respect, but also holding yourself accountable. It comes with a level of humility and self-discipline, almost like re-parenting yourself.

Self-love also means having boundaries. If you’re not used to loving yourself, you might have been living in a way that seeks approval from others, leading to over-giving and taking on burdens that aren’t yours. This is not loving to yourself or the other person. When we have no boundaries, we’re essentially telling others they don’t need to take responsibility for their actions. It creates an unhealthy dynamic.

Hyper-independence, where you believe you have to do everything yourself because you can’t trust others, is also a trauma response and not true self-love. Setting boundaries and being realistic about what you can handle is an important aspect of self-love.

When you start focusing on self-care, it’s easy to swing to the extreme—cutting people off and setting overly strict boundaries. Though this might initially seem self-serving, if done from a place of love, it benefits both parties in the long run. Both sides can relate to each other from a more balanced place. Loving yourself is intrinsically related to loving others.

Does self-love mean always prioritizing yourself? No, but it does mean prioritizing yourself a lot more. You can’t always put your needs first because of responsibilities like partners, kids, and jobs. However, self-love involves looking after your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health so that you can show up to your responsibilities in a more empowered and rejuvenated way.

It can be as simple as creating a 20-minute window in your day just for you—reading, meditating, or taking a walk. Think of it as charging your phone daily; you need to recharge your own batteries. If you’re constantly giving without recharging, you end up giving from emptiness, which isn’t truly beneficial.

Be kind to yourself

Creating a positive narrative about yourself in your mind is another vital aspect of self-love. Many of us have negative loops on repeat, which affects all our relationships. Being kinder to yourself, especially when you make mistakes or feel heavy emotions, is crucial. Everyone experiences such emotions, and judging yourself harshly only harms you. Practicing self-compassion softens your heart and allows you to extend that compassion to others.

Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean letting yourself off the hook; it means not spiraling into self-judgment. Self-love involves being respectful and kind to yourself, forgiving yourself for mistakes, and fostering a positive self-view. Treating yourself as your own best friend can change your entire dynamic, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

When you’re kinder to yourself, it transforms how you walk through the world and perceive reality. Practicing self-love can dramatically change your life without being narcissistic or self-centered. It’s about checking yourself with humility, reparenting yourself kindly, and keeping yourself accountable.

I know we covered a lot here. Let me know in the comments what resonates with you, how you’re learning to love yourself, or what practices have worked for you. I enjoy hearing from you all. Thank you for sharing this post, and I’ll see you in the next one.

Love always, V