Love yourself as you love others

I’m sure the purest form of love is that between a parent and their child, for it tends to be unconditional. Generally a parent loves their child no matter what they do, and from time to time I’m sure you’ve come across stories of parents who’ve continued to stand by a son or daughter after they’ve committed some dreadful crime.

Fortunately most parents don’t have to face dilemmas like this, and we tend to accept that the bond between a mother or father and their son or daughter really is unconditional.

Now you may or may not be a parent, but I wonder if you extend this principle to loving yourself?

Perhaps not. Do you love yourself on a good day, but exhibit substantially lower levels of self-compassion when you’re going through a rough patch? You know, you wouldn’t be the first if you did. When I feel reasonably happy I tend to feel OK about myself. But ask me to make a similar judgement when my mood has dipped, and the answer would be quite different. I’m not proud to admit I’ve gone through periods of substantial self-loathing. Ouch.

I truly hope you’ve not been unfortunate enough to share the experience, but you have my profound sympathies if you have. Ouch.

The highly-respected psychologist Albert Ellis described two outlooks when it comes to self regard.

The first is conditional, when we accept ourselves only when things go well. The second is unconditional, when our self-acceptance occurs no matter what happens.

Not one to beat around the bush, so seriously did Albert Ellis view the damaging effects of conditional self-love that he called them ‘deadly’.

A big part of self-compassion is learning to be comfortable with yourself. A parent doesn’t tell their child that they’ll only love them if they change, but isn’t this just what you and I say to ourselves at times?

Building levels of self-esteem, compassion and acceptance can be a big challenge, involving months or even years of therapy for some people. But maybe we can take a more immediate, less ambitious ‘nudge’ approach today?

And this, quite simply, is to be as kind with yourself as you would be with others, no matter what you might think you have or haven’t done.

You are who you are, and very little can change this. Please be nice to yourself today.

3 thoughts on “Love yourself as you love others

  1. Found myself heading down the path of giving myself a good talking to just yesterday. Why? Well first off I forgot my phone when going out to a meeting so was trying to think ‘it’s OK you won’t need it’ but ‘what if I break down what will I do then’ panic was rising.

    The meeting was fine and then I travelled 20 miles to see some friends and had got some things to give them and show them from my holiday in my bag. Except when I got there I didn’t have my bag as I’d left it at work so now am very cross with myself.

    Just managed to catch myself before I spiralled off into a personal attack of how useless I am. I thought why is this happening? Well being overtired could be a factor or it could be just one of those things as I’m only human- cue for a song -and a realisation I needed to slow down, laugh at myself, have a break and an early night.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing the story of your day, Christine! I know many of us have been there. It can be hard to be gentle and loving to the human inside ourselves. Sometimes it helps me to think of myself as a little girl of about 6 years old, and imagine that I could hold her sweetly in my arms and kiss her hair. I can’t stay mad at her. 🙂 And yes, slowing down, laughing, and getting some extra rest all sound like wonderful things to do!

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