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.
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.