I’ve always had a particularly hard time with loving myself. A lot of us do. I have major depression, so it and my lack of love for myself reinforce each other. I often dislike myself. Influences in my background led me to believe that loving yourself meant you were arrogant or prideful, and that if you love yourself the way you are now, you’ve given up and won’t be able to improve yourself or grow. And it definitely led me to believe that being a hard worker was the only way to redeem yourself.
And yet, so many psychiatrists, therapists, self-help gurus, and friends tell us we have to start to love ourselves to grow and love others. Even the Bible has it, advising us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I would never treat a neighbor like that! Whenever I would try to wrap my head around loving myself as a good thing, I’d get frustrated and realize I didn’t have a clue what that would look like. Recently, during meeting for worship, it occurred to me that there is an explanation of what love looks like. I just need to apply it to myself. So I personalized the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 to make it obvious that it included me as well.
Love is patient with myself.
Love is kind to myself.
Love does not envy—looking at others and judging myself lacking.
Love does not boast—even to myself because that is approving of myself for what I do or have, and not just because I exist.
Love is not arrogant and doesn’t listen when others are arrogant towards me.
Love is not rude, not even to myself.
Love doesn’t seek its own way, since that is often driven by only approving of myself for what I can make happen, instead of just because I exist.
Love is not irritable or resentful, not even to myself.
Love doesn’t focus too much on suffered wrongs.
Love does focus on the truth of myself.
Love gently bears everything about myself.
Love believes all true things about myself.
Love hopes in myself.
Love endures in me.
It’s still a challenge, and maybe it always will be. But now, when I’m getting too far into self-doubt, or even self-hate, I try to come back and read this again. So far, it helps.