The art of loving yourself and others

Many people, in the course of their lives, experience periods in which anxieties, guilt feelings or fears seem to cast a negative shadow on every aspect of their daily lives. Suddenly our self-esteem falters and certainties about who we are, what we want and what we need collapse.

In this article we will delve into the art of loving yourself and others . And there’s no better way to remember self-love than on Valentine’s Day.

Self love

One of the “solutions” frequently used to get out of periods of vulnerability and loneliness is to seek security, stability and understanding in the relationship with another person. Without realizing it, we entrust the responsibility for our well-being and happiness to our partner and distort love, reducing it to addictive relationships that sometimes become toxic relationships .

The truth is, there’s only one person you spend every second of every day of your life with: yourself. Learning to love yourself can be a long and complicated process, but it will also lead you to greater freedom and self-awareness.

What does it mean to love yourself?

Self love is a topic that is often used in normal conversation. You’ve probably already heard expressions like: ” You have to love yourself more ” or “You have to start loving yourself”. But when we talk about unconditional self love, what exactly are we referring to?

Loving yourself means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness . The meaning of loving yourself lies in taking care of your needs and not sacrificing your own good to please others.

Self-love isn’t just a feeling of well-being, it’s an action. It represents a choice. It is self-acceptance , a way of relating to one’s self which also implies understanding one’s mistakes and defeats. It means being able to communicate effectively with ourselves without harshly judging or punishing ourselves.

Loving and forgiving yourself 

Learning to love yourself is important to living happier and healthier lives in every aspect of your life. Loving yourself means accepting yourself as you are , in the present moment. And to do that, you also need to forgive yourself.

In fact, it happens that we are overwhelmed by situations that we perceive to be beyond our control: in these cases in psychology we speak of external locus of control , which can also lead to learned helplessness . Anger, resentment, hatred, frustration, and guilt are just a few of the emotions we may be addressing ourselves.

All of this often leads to a negative self-evaluation, so much so that we don’t forgive ourselves. ‍Only by learning to become aware of who we are and to understand that making mistakes is normal and that imperfections belong to each of us, will we be able to forgive ourselves and love ourselves.

Hassan OUAJBIR – Pexels

Not loving yourself: what does it entail?

As we have seen, loving yourself means forgiving , accepting and respecting who you are deep down. Including your good and bad parts. Self-criticism is at the heart of many problems that we, as adults, unknowingly create for ourselves.

The symptoms of not loving yourself involve low self-esteem and depression, moodiness, a tendency to withdraw into oneself, insomnia. We constantly feel inadequate and fear that we are not enough . Low self-esteem is a force that devours and destroys everything beautiful we can have: our potential, our talents, dreams, relationships.

Loving yourself, respecting yourself, giving yourself time – on the contrary – will be the fundamental pillars for a good relationship with yourself and others.

Loving yourself to be able to love others and be loved

Erich Fromm , German psychoanalyst and philosopher, in his famous book ” The art of loving “, explains to us how what he calls forms of pseudo-love are the result of an erroneous vision of love and mirror of a reality too centered on selfishness, about power and money. They end up reducing every sentimental relationship to a mere exchange of goods: my happiness in exchange for your understanding.

The author highlights how often we try to find the “right” person for us, instead of trying to learn to love. We focus on the other as a savior, a bringer of happiness and love in our lives, without realizing that loving is something that has to start with us . You have to love yourself to love others and be loved.

«Love is above all giving and not receiving. Giving is the highest expression of power and life. In the very act of giving I feel my strength, my wealth, my power, and this feeling of aliveness fills me with joy.” E. Fromm

Does loving yourself mean being selfish?

Focusing on yourself doesn’t mean being selfish. Taking care of yourself and being selfish are two completely different things . Sometimes we struggle to love ourselves because we fall into the manipulation of those who want us to think that our needs aren’t worth as much as theirs.

Loving yourself to love others 

One of the first teachings we receive as children is that you have to give love unconditionally. But however correct this concept is, it lacks a fundamental premise: ” If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others”.

The more we respect and love ourselves, the more love, without particular effort, will be available to others. How can you love someone, in fact, if you don’t love yourself first? Self -esteem in love is essential for giving yourself to the other and loving him.

It is a change of perspective that is not always understood. But if I don’t have this deep feeling of respect for myself, continuing to feel the need to “have to give love to others” ‍ , on the one hand I won’t have the time and space to love myself, on the other hand I will expect others to do the same for me, even when it comes to unrequited love .

The art of loving yourself

For Fromm, loving is an art, and like all arts it is not an instinctive and innate ability, but requires daily exercises through a learning process. Here are the elements that according to Fromm help us build a true love relationship:

  • Communication : love is possible only if two people communicate with each other from the depths of their being, trying to actively develop their personality and reach a high level of maturity;
  • Freedom : love is closely linked to freedom of choice and free will, elements that must always be valid for both members of the couple;
  • Taking care : love is an act and an active process, but above all it is care of oneself and of the other;
  • Respect : loving means respecting the other exactly for what they are and not for what we think they should be. One is capable of adopting this degree of respect only if full individual independence has been achieved, therefore when one is able to walk alone without handholds and without the need for domination.

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How to love yourself: the main rules

While learning to love yourself isn’t the easiest thing to do, we have the power to increase the number of kind thoughts we have toward ourselves. There are many self-love exercises , which we can use to really start doing it.

However, keep in mind that it may be difficult at first. You may not feel comfortable treating yourself with the level of kindness and respect you deserve, so take your time . Here are some ways to get started.

1. Awareness

Become aware of what you are perceiving and feeling , without any form of judgement. Being able to listen to your body and mind and be aware of your needs is the best thing you can do for yourself.

2. Forgive yourself

Sometimes we are very hard on ourselves, becoming our own worst enemy. However, it is important to take a break. When you believe you’ve made a mistake, decide what action you can take to fix it. Use self-talk to encourage you to take that step toward forgiveness .

3. Say “no” to others

Sometimes loving ourselves also means taking care of ourselves when others are around us. Set boundaries. Find time for yourself. It’s okay to tell people “no” if you think you need to .

Saying “no” every now and then means putting yourself first, but also exercising one’s right. We all have the right to decide whether to commit ourselves to others because with this we affirm, as mature people, our equality with them.

4. Don’t be afraid to end a toxic relationship

Self love is a continuous action, a continuous process, a continuous choice. If you’re dealing with a narcissist or an emotional manipulator , don’t forget that you can choose to walk away from them. It’s liberating, even if it can be painful.

It’s never wrong to walk away from situations or the company of people that are draining you . Any type of bond that doesn’t make you feel comfortable and doesn’t allow you to express yourself freely and authentically can be harmful to you and your inner well-being.

5. Integrate body, mind, emotions 

Well-being and self-awareness comes from the integration of body awareness , that of one’s emotional state and mental awareness. The harmonious development of these three dimensions increases our sense of identity and increases our love for ourselves.

6. Be grateful 

It’s a beautiful exercise to practice every day to learn how to live well with ourselves and others and attract what we desire. Pause to think about the good things you’re grateful for and often take for granted. Get used to recognizing what you have that makes you happy, even if you’ve stopped paying attention to it: you’ll be amazed at the many things you’re grateful for.

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‍ How do you learn to love yourself?

There are numerous methods to learn to love yourself. Meditation , for example , is a very useful exercise for developing self-love.

The primary condition for expressing and welcoming love is our psychophysical well-being. Meditation is a powerful tool to be able to achieve it, because:

  • helps to “be with” unpleasant emotions such as fear or resentment;
  • allows you to learn to live in the here and now;
  • it helps us to become aware of conflicts with ourselves and with others. 

Meditation accompanies us on the journey to get to know each other and to conquer that serenity that turns into conscious choices and relationships, transforming us and our lives into a positive one. It allows us to find our inner balance, to open ourselves to new possibilities.

Learning the art of loving with psychotherapy

Loving yourself is the first step towards happiness. Analyzing Fromm’s theory, the importance of dedicating oneself to one’s own path of personal growth and maturation appears very clear as an essential element in order to be able to build authentic love relationships, which are not the result of insecurity or unsatisfied needs.

Choosing to embark on a course of psychotherapy is therefore a real gesture of love towards ourselves, as it allows us to learn to:

  • gain awareness of our resources
  • cultivate the introspective ability to look within
  • change dysfunctional behaviors.

Taking these steps will then allow us to love others deeply and sincerely. We remind you that you can ask, at any time, for the support of one of the Unobravo online psychologists who will be able to guide you and accompany you on your journey towards self-love.

Books to love yourself 

There are numerous books on self-love. We leave you with a list of the most interesting:

  • “ I love myself. How to learn to love yourself and be happy ” by F. Cenci: a book that explores self-love to feel good alone first and then with others.
  • ” Knowing yourself better to love yourself and others ” by S. Atzori: a manual for getting to know yourself and others better, because if we fail to get to know ourselves first and relate to ourselves, we won’t be able to do it with others in a healthy and balanced way.
  • “ Àmati! Loving yourself and true revelation ” by F. Marchesi: the author explores the practices for a full and happy existence, starting from nutrition to thoughts and emotions.
  • “ Nothing is impossible. Knowing and loving yourself to transform your life ” by S. Lusuardi: a journey to know yourself, overcome difficulties and learn to take control of your life despite moments of crisis and discouragement.


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