Learning to Love Yourself

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt-Stewart

February is the month of “love”—you might send valentines, enjoy a candlelight dinner with a loved one, or watch romantic movies. But what must come first is loving yourself. You can’t give to another if you don’t have it within yourself to give. Several world religions refer to loving yourself.

“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12:31, Christian Bible verse.

Prophet said: “None of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”—[Tirmidhi] Muslim saying.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”—Leviticus 19:18, Jewish Torah.

Many go through life not learning this important lesson, but it is not too late to make a change.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She offers steps to start loving yourself more each day. I relate to the following three to share with you.

1. Be willing to feel pain and take responsibility for your feelings.

“Mindfully follow your breath to become present in your body and embrace all of your feelings. It’s about moving toward your feelings rather than running away from them with various forms of self-abandonment, such as staying focused in your head, judging yourself, turning to addictions to numb out, etc.”

This is very important. For me, an illness can occur if you stuff your feelings. Give yourself permission to vent in healthy ways.

2. Learn about your false beliefs.

“Be aware about your beliefs and behavior and what is happening with a person or situation that may be causing your pain. Ask yourself, ‘What am I thinking or doing that’s causing the painful feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, jealousy, anger, loneliness, or emptiness?’ Allow the answer to come.”

I realized that old emotional wounds from parents’ messages were keeping me stuck. One biggie was that I was not good enough. I just could never measure up to their expectations, until I dealt with the emotional pain. I kept getting triggered by other people.

3. Take loving action.

“Sometimes people think of ‘loving myself’ as a feeling to be conjured up. A good way to look at loving yourself is by emphasizing the action: ‘What can I do to love myself?’ rather than ‘How can I feel love for myself?’ By this point, you may have tapped into your spiritual guidance.”

What is your passion? How do you enjoy yourself—sports, hobbies, music, etc.? Each of us has a talent to express. Take time to express yours. For me, volunteering has brought me so much joy. Keep yourself filled to the brim.

Dr. Paul states, “Over time, you will discover that loving yourself improves everything in your life—your relationships, your health and well-being, your ability to manifest your dreams, and your self-esteem. Loving and connecting with yourself is the key to being able to love and connect with others.”

Give yourself a hug … you are enough.

Rev. Suzanne, a SaddleBrooke resident, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained non-denominational, representing all faiths; her focus is “inclusive.” Email [email protected] for more information or discussion.