The world talks a lot about self-love. Sometimes it refers to the way we take care of ourselves, other times it refers to how we view and value ourselves. It may even refer to the narcissistic behavior of those who love themselves a little too well. But what does it mean to love yourself?
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What is Self-love?
There are those who may argue that self-love, because of the connotation of those two words side by side, is selfish or self-centered.
For the purpose of this conversation, let me explain what it means to love yourself. Let’s define self-love as the way we view and value ourselves. What do you believe about yourself? How do you treat yourself when no one is looking (or listening)?
How do the things you believe about yourself translate to the way you allow others to treat you?
Why Self-love is Hard
If you’ve ever been in an identity crisis, you understand how hard it can be to love yourself. I mean, how do you live with someone you don’t know? Why would you get to know someone you don’t like? It’s a horrible cycle, one you can get caught up in for years especially as you tune to what the world tries to tell you about yourself.
For many of us, self-love is hard because we seem to be so caught up taking care of others we lose sight of ourselves. Is it just me? Have you spent years trying to honor your roles as a child, parent, wife, employee, church member that you just forgot all the things you loved? You spent so much time doing other things or taking care of other people you forgot to stop and take care of yourself.
Why Loving Yourself Is Important
One of the things Christians probably hear all the time is “love your neighbor as yourself “. This is usually intended as a slur…a kind of “why aren’t you nice? Why don’t you act more like the Christ you profess to follow?”
But how can you love your neighbor if you don’t know how to love yourself? One of the biggest reasons we need to love yourself is so that we are able to pay it forward.
This struggle to love oneself is one that Landra Young Hughes talks about in her new book A Different Kind of Love Story.
What Does It Mean to Love Yourself in Practical Terms
So we’ve talked about why it’s hard to love ourselves, but what does it mean to love yourself in your daily life? Does it mean you will have to ignore the needs of others? Does it mean you’ll spend every spare moment speaking positive affirmations to yourself? Not necessarily.
Learning to love yourself means taking the time to do the things you enjoy. It also means staying in tune with your emotions and mental state so that you can avoid things that are overly stressful or potentially damaging to you. Self-love in practical terms may involve some (or all) of the following things:
- time spent in prayer, meditation, and Bible study
- journaling your thoughts
- regular exercise
- proper hydration
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- spending time doing hobbies
- time spent with family and friends
- tune in to and silence negative thoughts
- share your pain with others and invite them to walk with you through it
- showing grace to yourself when you make mistakes
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it gave you an idea of how to practice self-care in your daily life. If you also take the time to read A Different Kind of Love Story you’ll uncover some of the things that may secretly be stealing your ability to love yourself.
A Different Kind of Love Story Review
This book is interwoven with the author’s struggle to overcome an eating disorder and references to The Bachelor. Her struggle to love and accept herself consumed her and nearly destroyed her life. While many of us will not have such a dramatically visible experience, the lessons imparted in this book will still get you on the path to loving yourself.
Know God–God created us to be loved in a way only he could love us. He did that because he wanted to create a desire in us for a relationship with him. When you understand how God loves you, it puts the way you view yourself in a new light.
You view yourself through his eyes. You love yourself because he does.
Know yourself–one of the things the author purports is the importance of knowing yourself in relation to who God is. When we base our identity on things outside of Christ, we run the risk of losing who we are in the process. We make poor choices and do things we wouldn’t normally do.
Run your race–every one of us needs to practice self-kindness. That means not listening to the “mean girl” in our heads and taking the necessary steps for us to be physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy.
Get your copy of A Different Kind of Love Story on Amazon. I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher as part of the Baker Bloggers program; a positive review was not required.
About A Different Kind of Love Story
If you’ve ever struggled with your identity, Landra Young Hughes has a radically simple message for you: give up. Specifically, give up your need to be in control of how other people see you. Instead, let God’s words–not yours and not others–define you.
Through her own deeply personal story of trying to control her circumstances and others’ perceptions of her through an eating disorder, Landra points the way toward a life free from self-obsession and self-resentment.
She shows you how to listen to God’s voice, let go of the struggle for perfection, and live authentically from your deepest self.
Because outside of a growing relationship with your heavenly Father, no other love (or lack of love) has the potential to improve or implode your life like the love that you have for yourself.
About Landra Young Hughes
Landra Young Hughes is the daughter of prominent pastor Ed Young Jr. and Lisa Young of Fellowship Church. Because of her upbringing, Landra has developed a passion for seeing people maximize their God-given potential and embrace their God-defined self-worth.
She and her husband, Brad, lead Fellowship Church’s Norman campus and live in the Norman, Oklahoma, area with their daughter, Sterling.
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