Published on Monday, November 3, 2014

What is Self-Love?

What is Self-Love?

1. In your opinion, is there a difference between “Self Love” and “Self-Acceptance”?

Self-love is a term that is thrown around quite freely; and is often thought of simply as a state of feeling good about one’s self, but in actual fact it’s way deeper than that.

According to Dr Deborah Khoshaba; who is a Clinical Psychologist in California; Self Love is “a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.” So in other words, Self-Love is a process, it’s ever changing and growing it cannot be bought in a store or be accomplished by a quick makeover, it’s achieved through our actions, decisions or choices our daily living.

As for “Self-Acceptance”; I believe that through this process of loving yourself, you will start gaining more and more self-acceptance. Understanding yourself better, forgiving yourself for your mistakes and understanding and accepting your shortcomings.

So through the actions of loving myself, more and more, I get to a place where I accept myself for who I am.

2. Can “being tough” on myself be interpreted as “self-hatred”

It definitely could in some instances, especially in people with low self-esteem, people who have been taught that they are not good enough, that they will never amount to anything – and they believe that and can be very tough on themselves indeed.

But I think it depends on the intent you have with “being tough” on yourself and what that specifically entails.

One of the actions that support Self Love for example, is to act on what you need; rather than on what you want. And this can be very difficult!

For example if you are in an abusive relationship and you need to get out of there, but you really want to make this work… acting on the “wanting to fix this” is definitely putting yourself in danger and not focusing on your own personal well-being, no self-love there; but getting out of there on the other hand is what you need, for all the obvious reasons, doing what you need to do, instead of what you want to do, is Self-Love.

It’s a tough decision and many people really struggle to make that choice and to stick to it, so being tough on yourself; loving yourself enough to make that decision; getting the help and support you need and so forth is again an action that grows your Self Love.

Important to just mention here – nobody else can do that for you; these are your choices and your actions.

3. For somebody who has been in a dark place for most of their life – will this transformation be an easy process?

It depends to some degree on the circumstances, the individual, temperament, personality and so on, but big changes are very seldom easy ones. I honestly do believe, however;  with my whole being that we were created with the innate ability to adapt, to learn and to change and change does not happen overnight – it’s a process… we have that ability and the process starts with that initial decision, that choice that you personally have to make for yourself.

My counselling practice is called Vita Nova and that is Latin for New Life – and I believe that a new life is very definitely achievable- not always easy, but definitely possible!

4. Can bad experiences (like abuse etc) lead to self-hatred?

Unfortunately it can. Even more so if the abuse started in childhood already. As children, we take the messages that we receive about ourselves from parents, caregivers, teachers and we internalize them. Please remember that your past does not define you though, so now again, depending on a whole bunch of things, this child might very well internalize this verbal, emotional and or physical abuse as a very clear message that “I am worthless, I am horrible, I shouldn't be alive” and they believe that  of themselves – so yes. It might very well lead to self-hatred. And therefore a lack of Self Love; is often as a result of these and other internalized messages that we have received about ourselves, our roles in life and relationships, often times messages that are given to us from a religious stand point comes into play here as well.

A lot of Christians, for example, might have a big problem with the idea of Self Love. Comparing or linking it very closely to vanity, putting ourselves above others, but I don't agree with that. God says in the Bible; love others – like you love yourselves. So there has to be a certain type of love for yourself. And I believe it’s the people who are busy with that discovery of who they are, who God has created them to be, those who are learning to Love themselves for their positives as well as their shortcomings, those who can accept it all and strive to grow even more aware of and in awe of who they are; those are the people who can be an asset to society, who can make a positive difference, who can contribute and be the change that they would like to see in the world. Because I am not making excuses for who I am or am not, I am celebrating that and I'm consciously and with intent living that and growing that.

5. How can we best assist a person who is going through that time in their life?

Adults have to make their own choices. And it’s very hard for friends and family to stand by and to see someone being abused or mistreated, or horribly unhappy, but unfortunately no one else can make someone’s choices and decisions for them. So you as a friend or a family member can be there for support can give advice when needed, can be a shoulder to cry on, and can very definitely be that voice of reason. In my opinion, it won't even help to make an appointment with a counselor and to drag your friend there – it has to be an internal motivation or desire for change that brings that person to my office. So you can suggest counselling – yes, but don't force an adult to go; you might do more harm than good.

If this person has made that choice to get some help, an objective opinion; you can assist in getting a number for a reputable counselling center, you can motivate them to keep on attending sessions, you can comment on positive changes and reinforce those choices and behaviours by being positive about it, focusing on the good you see happening.

The important thing to realize is; that even though the decision needs to come from the person him/herself… you have a huge supportive role to play.

6. Any practical tips on how we can love ourselves more?

a) Really pay attention to what it is that you think and you feel, instead of just going with the flow. If you are mindful of this, your actions, will be directed in the direction of things that you need.

b) Take good care of yourself. So many of us put others first to such an extent that we compromise who we are. Remember that you are the only mother your children have, the only son your parents have and so forth-if you are depleted, how can you be of any good to anyone else. Love and Charity starts at home. Basic needs are important; good nutrition, enough sleep.

c) Setting boundaries are important as well. You have got to learn to say no when it is needed.

d) If you are someone who believes in God; make a study of all His promises to us in the Bible, and try to learn to see yourself through His eyes.

The key here is; Self Love is not vanity, it’s not putting you first to the detriment of other people – it’s not a nice to have or an optional even. In my book; it’s a necessity!

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Author: Anri van den Berg

Categories: Communication, Relationships


Anri van den Berg
Anri van den Berg>

Anri van den Berg

I truly enjoy working with people of all ages; and I wholeheartedly believe that I can, and do undoubtedly add value to every life through the work I do in my practice; Vita Nova Counselling

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