what is self love

Self Love and Loving Others

Self Love and Loving Others

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Self love is not an act of selfishness. In fact, it is actually the opposite. 

How you see and treat others is a projection of how you see and treat parts of yourself.

Now, I know that you could argue against the statement above, but I would challenge you to really consider how you are treating yourself and others.

The point here is that if you love yourself, and are working on a relationship with yourself, that will shift how you interact with others. You might be asking yourself, how can my self love improve my relationships with others?

Relationships are Essential

First, consider how human beings are wired for connection. From birth, we are wired to mimic and depend on others for survival. 

As we grow, we find that our connections with others can have a profound effect on our emotional wellbeing. Some of our connections are healthy and others are not. The human connection is a basic survival need even as we try to establish our individuality during adolescence.

Sometimes, we get the message that other people’s needs are more important than ours. We can also start to lose sight and love for our own selves.

Our instincts are to feel and show love for others, but it can get distorted if there is any kind of abuse or violation of trust. Due to this, we can start to focus more and more outside of ourselves for a sense of worth. 

On the other hand, we could end up building and fostering healthy and loving relationships that keep us thriving. Then we reach an age where our self worth and self love are more within our control, but do we have the skills to love ourselves while loving others at that point?

The First Relationship to Work On is the One With Yourself

When people move into a path of self love, it is usually because they see that their relationships with others are just not working the way they wish they would.

In many Buddhist traditions, there is an understanding that someone will continue to suffer over and over until they realize that they no longer want it. When someone is suffering in their relationships, they often can realize that they are missing something like self-esteem or self love. 

Once a person has decided that enough is enough, they can start working on their most important relationship, the one with themselves.

Many people avoid this because it can seem selfish, but that’s not what self love is.

Self love is when you begin to nurture yourself. You start to see yourself as worthy of love, boundaries, healthy relationships, and tenderness. As a result, you start to seek out tools to show these things for yourself.

As this starts, some of your more toxic relationships will no longer be tolerable for you. Conversely, the most healthy relationships you have will start to play a more important role.

As You Work On Yourself, You Benefit Others

A true self love journey is really just a journey about love itself.

When you are loving yourself, you have real and difficult conversations with yourself. 

The deep conversation with yourself will be to explore your values, define your vision for who you want to be, know how you will show up in the world, work on your boundaries, and more. You will move towards a consistent understanding of who you are.

Although your work will be internal, your changes will start to be external. Others will begin to see the impacts of your work. You will essentially be modeling how they also can begin to love themselves.

Here’s an example: 

You start to work on your boundaries and begin to realize that your boundaries actually communicate how much you trust others to handle their own lives. Because of this, you start to express how much you trust those around you to make their own decisions. Soon, others around you start to feel that trust and responsibility for themselves and they feel empowered.

Your Self Love Will Create Patience and Understanding

Your relationship with yourself, your modeling for others, and the growth you make will teach you patience and understanding of yourself.

As a result, you’ll begin to realize that everyone else might be working on similar skills. This will lead you to slow down and understand people more. You will start to communicate more with others in different ways so you can understand them and work through any problem in a loving way.

Finally, your assumptions about others will begin to feel more positive and humane, which will support deep relationships.


The above are just a few reasons why self love actually connects you to others, but there are so many more reasons.

When you learn to love yourself, you learn what love is. You begin to look inside of you and see something radiant and beautiful. Consequently, you start to see that same beauty inside of others. 

You cannot start to develop a deep and nurturing love for yourself and not see the worthiness of those around you.  

At the very least, it will do no harm to love yourself.

Dr. Autumn Thomas

By starting a self love journey, you are making a powerful statement to yourself and others. Begin with our program: Techniques for Self Love and Acceptance.

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Don’t Feed Toxic People as a Part of Your Self Love

Don't Feed a Toxic Person as a Part of Your Self Love

You’ve been there. A person is constantly triggering you.

For some reason, something about this person makes you feel like you need to defend yourself or argue. Whenever you are around this person you can feel the irritation and anger rise up.

This person is toxic to you. 

They might seem to be able to get along with others, or you may notice that they are always having the same problems with other people. In either case, YOU are not able to keep boundaries with this person. Also, you might notice that you act differently than you want to around this person.

You are improving yourself, keeping cool, regulating your emotions, but this person keeps finding ways to make you feel out of control.

Your Reaction Feeds Them

Whether they are conscious of it or not, a toxic person feels very comfortable with conflict. They might act dramatic or say that they are “no drama,” but that is just not true.

On the psychology side of this situation, toxic people continue to find themselves in hard and volatile situations. It is a part of their makeup. They were probably raised in chaotic environments and recreate this wherever they go. 

Unless they are coming to you to get support in their own healing journey, it is really their problem and not yours. (It’s never actually your problem)

Knowing this, you need to understand that your reaction or overreaction feeds something inside of them. There is a deep satisfaction that they get when you get triggered by the subtle (or obvious) things they do to you.

How to React

When you feel a trigger around someone, it is a sign for you to get some space. 

If you can, safely walk away and be with yourself. You might want to go process your feelings with someone, but be sure it is someone who will not tell your thoughts to the toxic person. A toxic person will claim they HATE being gossiped about, but that’s not true. The gossip will again feed their toxicity.

Instead, take a walk, journal, talk to your therapist, or meditate on the event. Decide if this person is toxic and then decide not to feed them.

By not feeding a toxic person, I mostly mean ignoring them. Communicate lovingly if you have to interact with them, but limit your time with this person. The JADE technique is a great way to remember not to Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain anything to this person.

Here’s what will happen. They might try to draw you back into some kind of relationship with them or lash out on you, at first. But gradually, you will no longer be available for them to get their fix. They will start to look elsewhere for the chaos that they create. 

You will begin to live in peace. Do you want peace? Or do you want the drama and chaos this person brings into your life? Reflect on that.

Dr. Autumn Thomas

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What is Self Love?

What is Self Love?

Start by Defining Love

If you are asking the question, what is self love? Then it might be good for us to first explore the word “love.”

bell hooks described her exploration for a universal definition of “love” in her book all about love. She chose Erich Fromm’s definition that love is, “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” 

The key word in that sentence is the word “nurture.” bell also emphasized that you cannot nurture and be purposefully hurtful or abusive. Furthermore, love is a verb.

There are so many definitions of love. Because of this, it is hard to decide which definition is the best. Many people have been taught that sometimes people who love us will hurt us. We have learned that love might be associated with affection and attraction (either physically or spiritually) to someone else. 

Instead, the word “love” describes the feeling we have for someone/something that we want to see thrive. Love is deep attachment to our curiosity about someone or something outside of us. We feel it on a spiritual level.

True Love

What we think of as love can make us possessive and competitive. It can pull out our egos and fill us with jealousy. The strong emotion that is usually associated with love can confuse us.

Yet, if you think about it, you know what true love really is. All you have to do is imagine your ideal self. Your ideal self is a person who is giving, kind, patient, and mentally clear. This ideal version of you loves in a pure way that is never selfish or hurtful.

This person nurtures all of the people around them. That nurturing is true love. True love is taking the elated and joyful feelings you have and transforming them into the acts of listening, guiding, caring, respecting, trusting, tenderness, and freedom.

If a person who is “loving” were to act in that way towards all the people in their lives, this would be the type of love described in all spiritual theologies. This person lives in you, they are a part of you.

Applying True Love to Yourself

If a “loving person” acts in a nurturing, kind, patient way. Then this means all of the people who come in contact with this person feel heard, cared for, and free to be themselves. Also, they can heal and grow.

Self love is applying all of these behaviors and actions to yourself. Self love is the act of nurturing yourself. Consequently, with self love, you can begin to release hurtful or abusive ways that you might treat yourself.

Gradually, as a result of working on a true love for yourself, you emulate that love for others. 

Self love is just like any other love, it takes investment, time, patience, and commitment. It is beautiful road with hills and various adventures. It is not always pleasant, but it is worth it.

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